The Houston County Historical Society was first formed at the Courthouse in Caledonia on May 1, 1948 with the help of Dr. Carleton Qualley. The Society was the 58th county historical society formed in Minnesota and reported 63 members. The officers elected were: P.W. Steffen, Caledonia, President; Alvin Vick, Spring Grove, Vice-President; Mrs. Ralph Welsch, La Crescent, Treasurer and Gladys Lapham, Hokah, Secretary.
After the Minnesota Territorial Celebration of 1949, the society became inactive. October 25, 1960 a reorganization meeting was held. Mason Witt of Houston was elected President; Mrs. P.W. Steffen, Caledonia, Vice-President; Mrs. John Howard Benson, Houston, Secretary and William L. Murphy, Caledonia, Treasurer.
The Constitution of the Historical Society, as drawn up in May, 1948, was adopted with two amendments- quarterly meetings were to be held and a Board of Directors of five members – one from each commissioner district was to be appointed. Eight directors were appointed the first year. Wesley Happel, I.G. Iverson, Mrs. John Refsland, William Lockhart, Henry Haugland, Oren Lanswerk, Mrs. Robert Sprague and Lloyd Keefe.
In 1962, the second floor of the City Hall in Caledonia was made available for a museum. Because of fire damage to the City Hall, in 1966 a Building and Sites Committee of I.G. Iverson, Ove Fossum, Art Renner, William Murphy and Lyle Lapham was appointed. A building site, offered by the Houston County Fair Association, was accepted and Mr. Iverson donated blueprints and plans for a new building. The Houston County Board of Commissioners approved a one mill levy for the construction of a museum. C. H. Johnson of Spring Grove was awarded the contract and a 36 X 54 fireproof building of cement block was constructed. Ground breaking ceremonies were held June 30, 1968 and dedicated on October 19, 1969.
In 1967 the Houston County Historical Society was incorporated.
Today, the Houston County Historical Society continues to be a non-profit educational and cultural institution run by an all volunteer staff. Volunteers help to collect, preserve, and tell the story of Houston County’s past through museum exhibits, photographs, research materials, educational programs and tours. When it became evident that the Society had outgrown the original building, the Society made plans for a large museum addition. This project started with a capital fund drive in 2003 and continued until the formal ground breaking ceremony in December 2009. The additional space has allowed the Society to display the many donated artifacts that tell the county history.
The mainstays of early life in Houston County – church, home, government and school – are represented by the other Society buildings on the site. These include: Sheldon Presbyterian Church, Flatten-Swenson Pioneer Home, Mayville Town Hall, Daley School, and the Agriculture Building. Other exhibits are found in The Church of the Holy Comforter, Episcopal in Brownsville, and the Christian Bunge Jr. Store in Eitzen. Both are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Society also maintains the former Caledonia Presbyterian Church and manse.
Currently, the Houston County Historical Society is open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (with additional hours from June – August), and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.