Historical Society of Cheshire County, Keene

#8 of 13 in Things to do in Keene
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Historical Society of Cheshire County(HSCC) was unique from the beginning because it was, and remains, the only county historical society in New Hampshire.

The first public meeting was held in July 1927. At the meeting bylaws were adopted and officers were elected. Samuel Wadsworth, a Keene jeweler, surveyor, and local historian, was selected as the first president. The interest in the Society was enormous as 250 charter members were enrolled. The Keene Public Library made available meeting and museum space. Historical lectures were presented at regular meetings as they are today. Most importantly, the newly established society laid a strong foundation for the encouragement of donations and important artifacts.

In 1974 the Society opened a local history museum at the Colony House on West Street in Keene. Building on their already extensive collection of local glass and pottery, the Society transferred its remaining collection from the public library to its new home at the Colony House Museum.

Today, the Historical Society of Cheshire County is located at 246 Main Street in Keene and has evolved to more than 1,000 members, 5 employees, 100 volunteers, and a 13,000 square foot facility that includes a research and genealogy library with more than 300,000 local history items in the collection. The dreams that Frank Kingsbury, Clifford Wilbur, and Ella Abbott had of an organization to preserve the county's history have been realized, and the Society itself has now been a part of the region's rich history for more than 80 years.

HSCC also owns and operates The Wyman Tavern, one of Keene's most historic houses. Built more than two centuries ago, the Tavern has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and maintained as a period house museum representing the periods from 1770 to 1820 and 1820 to the 1870s.

The Tavern was built by Captain Isaac Wyman in 1762 and operated as a tavern by the Wyman family for 40 years. The first meeting of the trustees of Dartmouth College under President Eleazar Wheelock was held here on October 22, 1770. It was also from this tavern that 29 minutemen started their march to Lexington and Concord in April of 1775 under the command of Captain Wyman, a veteran of the Indian Wars.

All photos on this page are from the collections of the Historical Society. Please do not reproduce these images without obtaining permission from the Society. For reproduction permission or to order prints, please contact Kathy Schillemat at 603-352-1895 or hscc@hsccnh.org. Thank you.
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  • Historical Society of Cheshire County is very popular in Keene for their works in and around Keene. All round the year their events in Keene covering range of age groups of family audiences with...  more »
  • We have visited many times and enjoy the special programs. The store is great at Christmas. We are members of the organization.  more »
  • So this place has really friendly staff. You want to find something? A relative, a story, just history of your home...they will help you. Their museum shop is incredible. They have changed over to having almost exclusive local artisans and authors. You will find gifts you won't find anywhere else. They don't stock stuff that is stocked at every gift shop in town. The Wyman Tavern is truly a lovely visit when it is open, but don't overlook the mansion where the store and collection of local history is found. ALSO, ever changing exhibits and pop up events that are fun. Be sure to get on the email list if you live in the area. (Did I mention the store is wonderful? Truly shopping locally or finding something that you won't find anywhere else!)
  • i am a wyman, i think i am related to the person that lived and ran this tavern when it was a tavern, do you think this might be possible

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