The Negaunee Historical Society was founded as a non-profit organization by a group of local residents in the early 1980s who were concerned with the preservation of the rich heritage and history of the area. It was founded on November 22, 1982, and bylaws were created. The first public meeting was conducted on Tuesday, June 12, 1984, and the first board of trustees meeting was held the following evening. The first governing board was comprised of President, William Jennings; Vice President, Marilyn Mutch; Secretary, Nan Nicklas; Treasurer, Dave Larmour; Executive Director, Dave Bridgens; and Trustees Robert Juidici, Bill Taggert, Saima Kuivila, Jim Paquette, Rose Collins, Joyce Merrick and Art Shaw. The original location of the museum was in the former Apostolic Lutheran Church on Prince Street. Our present museum is located on the corner of E Main Street and Brown Avenue.
The land the museum rests on was the original site of the Catholic cemetery as part of St. Paul’s Catholic Church. The church was moved to its present location in 1871, but no record is shown as to when the cemetery was moved. Antoine Barabe bought the land from the Dioceses in 1877 and resided there with his wife until his death in 1898. Marie Barabe had her new home built in 1901 but poor health led to her moving to Oneida, WI where she passed away in August 1905. Thomas Pellow, grandfather of Thomas and Dick Pellow of the Pellow Printing Company, purchased the house following Mrs. Barabe’s death. However, the Pellow family never did reside in the home as Mr. Pellow’s new job assignment caused them to move to the Mesabi Range in Minnesota. Mary Pellow later sold the building in 1926 to the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. and was used by American Legion Post #66. The building was officially donated to the American Legion in 1958. When the American Legion disbanded, the Negaunee Historical Society purchased the building from them and set up its present museum in 1990. The Negaunee Historical Society then purchased the property from the Cleveland Cliffs in 2000.
Shown below, Frank G. Matthews, Sr. (1902-1985) was a local historian who was involved in preserving Negaunee’s heritage. A mining exhibit in his honor can be visited at the museum. A Frank Matthews Scholarship also is awarded to a Negaunee High School graduate each year to honor his commitment and dedication in preserving the history of Negaunee.