The Spirit of ’76 Museum was founded in 1968 when the need for space to house the Alex Justice collection became apparent. The Southern Lorain County Historical Society was formed to create such an establishment. The founding members of the society included Harrison Comstock, Ernst Henes, Col. James MacDermott and A.J. Weber. Mr. Henes and his wife, Margaret Skelton Henes who provided space on the second floor in the Museum’s current building which then housed the Wellington Enterprise.
The Museum’s building was built in 1870 as one of the first warehouses to house cheese. The third floor of the museum was originally built and engineered to allow for the draining of the ice used as a cooling system before refrigeration. Although the first and second floors were suitable for housing artifacts when the museum was first established, the third floor needed to be revamped and there was no money available. Through the efforts of the founding members and other workman who volunteered their skills to create a space that allowed for the 3rd floor to be used as exhibit space for our ever growing collection.
The gentlemen sought to share the “colorful history” of Wellington and the surrounding country side. A call for artifacts was sent out and the response was overwhelming. Memorabilia and artifacts poured in from people around Wellington and around the country, includung eight oil paintings by artist Archibald Willard that were donated to the Herrick Memorial Library and given to the museum to be housed. The name for the museum was called “The Spirit of ’76 Museum” to honor one of the artist’s most famous paintings titled “Spirit of ’76”.