Pope County Historical Society Museum

William and Edward Watson 
     Free admission to the museum.    
 
Museum will reopen April 6 & 7, 2024
Come see us the weekend before the Solar Eclipse.
The museum will also be open on Monday, April 8, 2024!
 
Written by Paul L Trovillion Jr., MIldred B McCormick, and updated by Cheryl and Charles Cossey
 
In the summer of 1965 a small group of citizens met with Dan Malkovich, publisher of Outdoor Illinois, to discuss the possibility of purchasing the old Sloan house on the south hill in Golconda for a Riverboat Museum.  Before the movement got off the ground the house was sold to someone else.  The spark, however, had been struck.
 
Coincidentally, the next year, 1966, marked the 150th year of the founding of Pope County - the Sesquicentennial year.  At an early meeting, the group determined to organize the Pope County Historical Society.  A board of directors was chosen, with temporary officers, and application was made for a "not-for-profit" charter for the Society.  In the 1965 Deer Festival parade a sign proclaimed:  "The Pope County Historical Society Announces the Sesquicentennial of Pope County in 1966".
 
The charter was on hand at the organization meeting of the Society January 14th, 1966 when over forty people gathered to make the Society a reality. The officers elected at that meeting were: President Paul L. Trovillion, Jr.; 1st Vice President: Ralph Aly (membership); 2nd Vice President: Rue Densch (program); Secretary: Helen Cummings; Treasurer: Wallace Walter. 
 
Early meetings were devoted to establishing goals, adopting a constitution and By-Laws, etc. In the spring of 1966, the Pope County Historical Society joined forces with the Golconda Rotary Club and other interested parties to organize a Pope County Sesquicentennial Committee. All activities of that summer were funneled into the big Sesquicentennial celebration in August, 1966.
 
In the winter of 1967 the Society purchased the Rondeau House more recently known as the Madge Trovillion home on the east side of the courthouse square in Golconda. The energies of the Society were turned to establishing a fine museum there. Although money for the purchase, restoration and maintenance of the museum has come from several sources - donations, dues, gifts, etc - most of the money came from a rummage sale established for that purpose. A number of devoted women maintained the sale which for years has been known as the "Not-So-New Store." Without them the financial story of the museum could have been bleak. Much of the early restoration and maintenance of the building was done by the "Green Thumb" program. 
 
The museum was made possible through work, donations and gifts or loans of articles and displayes for the museum. The museum's first official curator, Mabel Stannard, "tied it all together". The Society was proud to welcome visitors to enjoy the exhibits in the museum. It is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays, April through November. It is also open by appoinment at other times for clubs, tourist groups, etc.
 
The first museum burned in 1987. The Presbyterian Manse located next to the Presbyterian Church was the next museum home. The museum soon out grew the manse so a new location was found. The next location was the business building formerly owned by the W. S. Watson family near the east end of Main Street.
 
The museum has had several curators and volunteers over the years. All of them have given much time and effort to continue one of the finest museums in the state. Items are continually donated and or loaned. People from the county and all across the United States continue to share family heirlooms.