Helping preserve the rich history of Douglas County, Kansas

The Douglas County Historical Society, a non-profit organization established in 1933, preserves the heritage of Douglas County and encourages civic engagement by sharing stories of the people and events that have shaped our communities. Since 1975, the Society has operated the Watkins Museum of History. The Watkins Museum, housed in the 1888 Watkins Land Mortgage and National Bank Building, provides educational resources and activities, programs and public events, and changing exhibits that explore the heritage of Douglas County and connect the past with issues that affect our communities today.

Watkins Museum of History
Admission is Free!

Coming Events

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Presentation: James Terry, Halloween, Day of the Dead, and Death in Ancient Mexico
7 p.m. Free
James Terry, a former instructor at McGill University, is a PhD candidate in pre-Columbian art history at Yale. His talk looks at death in ancient Mexico, the motif of death in art, and how Halloween and Day of the Dead are not the same thing at all! Note: some imagery is gruesome, discretion is advised.

Saturday, October 25, 2014
Members-only “Boiler Room to Bathtub” Behind the Scenes Tours

2-3:30 p.m. Free

Saturday, October 25, 2014
Presentation: Dr. Dennis Domer, J.B. Watkins and the Watkins Building

4 p.m. Free and open to the public
Dr. Dennis Domer explores how J.B. Watkins’ land mortgage business influenced the design and function of the Watkins National Bank Building. He will provide a glimpse of the workings of J.B’s company and his sometimes contentious relationship with Lawrence’s business community. This program marks the close of the Watkins Building’s 125th anniversary year.

Friday, October 31, 2014
Final Friday: Halloween at the Watkins Museum
4:30-8 p.m. Free
Featuring family activities and treats for the kids

Thursday, November 20, 2014
DCHS Annual Meeting
6–9:30 p.m. $40 per person
Location: Eldridge Hotel
Call 785-841-4109 to make a reservation or register online here
The featured speaker will be Henry Fortunato, relating stories from his recently completed "Walk Across Kansas." Visit this link for more information on Henry Fortunato?s walks. The 2014 Annual Meeting is sponsored in part by the Eldridge


Support Watkins Museum

Use the convenient PayPal button below, to help support the programs provided by the Watkins Museum.

Membership in the Douglas County Historical Society supports the museum and offers inside information and members-only programs. Join Today!


How to Find Us

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Freedom's Frontier Heritage Area
The Watkins Museum is a partner in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area
 
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens

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    A new permanent exhibit, installed on the museum’s second floor opened August 17 to record crowds.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • Quantrill’s Raid Artifacts

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    View an exhibit of artifacts from Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence.

    Raid Artifacts
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens

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    Another view of the new permanent exhibit exploring Douglas County heritage that opened August 17, 2013.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • The Watkins Building

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    The Museum is housed in the historic Watkins Building in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.

    Watkins Building
  • Beer Night

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    Fresh local brews and old local history were united at Beer Night on January 19, 2013.

    Beer Night
  • The Community Room

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    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    Community Room
  • The Milburn

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    See a rare Milburn electric car on display in the exhibit area of the Watkins Museum.

    The Milburn
  • More than a Game: Basketball and Community Spirit

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    Visitors explore the exhibition and discover basketball as a source of community pride and a force for social change in Douglas County..

    More than a Game
  • The Community Room

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    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    community room
  • Trivia Night

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    A crowd gathers to test their knowledge at one of the Watkins’ Trivia Night events.

    paperboys

DCHS Receives Douglas County Heritage Grant

The Douglas County Historical Society was awarded a grant of $10,000 from the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant Program. The funds will partially support a $40,000 project to refurbish, improve, and add interpretive materials to the museum’s Stair Hall, the first part of an effort to complete the new core exhibit that is planned for the third floor. We are grateful to the Council and to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners for their support.

Stair Hall view

Watkins Museum Receives Donation from Cans for the Community

In August, Cans for the Community, a non-profit organization providing financial support to other non-profit organizations in Douglas County, Kansas and surrounding communities by recycling aluminum beverage containers, gave the Watkins Museum a donation of $1,000. This donation is the result of recycling about 35,000 cans! The funds will be used to update and refresh the museum’s 1870s playhouse and the dress-up clothes used in the third floor family area. We are grateful that Cans for the Community chose the museum as a beneficiary of their charitable work and generosity.

cans-for-community
Representatived from Cans for the Community present Watkins Museum staff with their donation.
Exhibitions Now on View

Doing Our Part: Lawrence During the Great War
Third Floor

La Catrina Speaks: Political Discourse and Dia de los Muertos
Second Floor

The Eldridge Dining Table:  A Relic from Early Lawrence
Second Floor

Reel Lawrence: Our Community’s Cinematic Past
Third Floor

Mass Street Merchant: The Leo Beuerman Story
Third Floor

Watkins: The Couple, the Building, the Legacy
First Floor Lobby

More than a Game:Basketball and Community Spirit
Third Floor

News
 
Community Room

Community Room is available for your receptions, birthday party or reunion. Call 1-785-841-4109 for more information.
Read more here.