The Peshtigo Fire Museum is located on the site of the Catholic church that Father Pernin lost in the fire. The building itself was the first church rebuilt in Peshtigo after the fire, but is not original to the site. It is actually the former Congregational church, which was moved across the river after the Catholic church was destroyed by fire (again) in 1927. When St. Mary Parish later built a new church on Ellis Avenue, the building was acquired by the Peshtigo Historical Society. It has been home to the Peshtigo Fire Museum since 1963.
Due to the near total devastation of the village in the fall of 1871, the museum has only a few artifacts salvaged from the fire -- notable among them the tabernacle that Father Pernin rescued from his church. The remainder of the collection is devoted to the whole of the area's history and consists of many interesting items.
The Peshtigo Fire Cemetery adjoining the museum building contains many graves of fire victims, as well as others (the last burial there was in 1916). The Mass Grave contains the remains of up to 350 unidentified fire victims.
The museum is open from Memorial Day through October 8 each year and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help offset operational costs.
There were 11,555 visitors to the museum in 2000, representing all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and 22 foreign countries. Thirty-one group tours were conducted. (Source: Peshtigo Historical Society, as reported to the Peshtigo Times.)
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