History Center

Brief County History




To collect, preserve, interpret and disseminate Waseca County history, and to create excitement about our past. 

1938 WCHS Charter
Members & First Board

The Waseca County 
Historical Society was organized on February 26, 1938 in the court chambers of the Honorable Judge Fred Senn at the Waseca County courthouse. 

Herman Panzram, President
Martha Cummings, Vice President
Charles Bailer, Treasurer
Robert Hodgson, Secretary
R.T. Barry
Albert Bartelt
L.H. Brandvold
Arthur Brisbane
W.A. Clement
J.P. Coughlin
Jean Latham Day
G.P. Madden
Pansy Panzram
Norman Peterson
Arnold Runnerstrom
Judge Senn
Mrs. R. Percy Ward
Dana Wobschall
F.A. Wood
Mrs. F.A. Wood

Waseca County History Center

The Museum

The Waseca County History Center is an admission free museum, with donations appreciated. The museum building houses main floor and balcony exhibits, a gift shop, offices, processing, and collection storage. There is an accessibility ramp on the 4th Street side, and a main floor lift to the balcony level. 

The Center is closed Mondays, open Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; other times by appointment. Call 507-835-7700, for a gathering. We welcome family and high school reunion groups, organization meetings, and family groups of all sizes.

The Waseca County Historical Society was formed in 1938.

Early artifact donations were exhibited in a space in the basement of the Waseca County courthouse.

In 1940, John Oleson and the A.F. Sponberg family donated original hand-hewn logs from log cabins. The logs were used to reconstruct a pioneer dwelling on the south lawn of the courthouse. The society's collection was displayed inside the cabin for a number of years and then a block annex was built to the west of the courthouse to accommodate the growing collection.

By the mid-fifties, the society was in need of more space and the county needed the area to expand. The cabin was moved to the Waseca County fairgrounds and enclosed in a cement block building dedicated as Hodgson Hall.

In 1962, Edgar Johnson, his brothers and families bought the former Methodist Church building. Two years later, after renovations, the Johnson families donated and officially dedicated the building as Waseca County's museum.

The Bailey-Lewer Research Library

The research center is the primary steward of Waseca County’s historical records, archives, microfilm, library, and other data accessible on our website or by visiting the Bailey/Lewer Research Library. There is an accessibility ramp on the 4th Street side.

You may visit the WCHS Research Center to conduct research during our regular scheduled hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. or by special appointment. Non-members are charged a $5.00 Daily Research Fee. There is no fee for members of the WCHS. Call 507-835-7700 for more information about researching your family history.

The Bailey House is one of Waseca's oldest homes built in 1868, as Waseca County was being settled.

Originally built by Dayton Smith, an accused horse thief, it was acquired in 1872, by P.C. Bailey, a hardware merchant, county official and director of the first committee to build a school in Waseca. P.C. Bailey died in 1907, and the house was purchased by the Ewald W. Lewer family who owned it until 1991.

In 1991, the Waseca County Historical Society acquired the house along with a generous donation from the Lewer family. The house was restored and placed on the National Historic Register in 1994 as the P.C. Bailey House.

The renovation of the Bailey-Lewer House was completed in April 2000 and designated as the Research Center for the Waseca County Historical Society.