Welcome to the Palmyra Historical Society
You've made a great decision to come and visit us!
We're celebrating the Palmyra Historical Society and Carlin House Museum's 40th Year with over 170 years of history!
For archived newsletters (from 1980 through Winter 2016) that you can read online or print and read at home, click here. Newsletters from Spring, 2016 to the present are available to society members. Want to become a member and get the latest news from the Palmyra Historical Society? Contact us and we'll tell you how you can join our growing number of supporters, to whom we extend a heartfelt thank you.
The Palmyra Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible and always welcome.
Nestled along the west edge of the scenic Kettle Moraine Forest in southeastern Wisconsin, Palmyra is a charming community of 1,700 people that is steeped in history and tradition. From its early days, Palmyra would make a mark on Wisconsin history, as when the first Wisconsin railroad was laid through the village in 1852, a posh resort hotel and healing spa was built in 1874, and one of the state's first Old Settlers' Day celebrations was established in 1885.
Many prominent businesses would spring up in Palmyra over the years, starting with a sawmill built in 1847, water bottling companies in the late 1800s, and a prosperous and highly awarded automobile sales business in the early 1900s.
Amid a flourish of development activity in the mid-to-late 1800s, Palmyra gained notoriety for having one of the "great wonders of the world," which drew nation-wide attention from journalists and celebrity figures alike. The wonder still exists, and we'd love to tell you more about it and all the other special things about Palmyra and the surrounding area.
And so we invite you to view more of our website and then stop in and visit us at the Carlin House and Turner Museum, located at 112 N. Third St., Palmyra, Wisconsin (about 50 miles southeast of Madison and 45 miles southwest of Milwaukee), Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm (first weekend in May thru the first weekend of December).
With so much to boast about, it's easy to see why Palmyra is called the "Heartbeat of the Kettle Moraine."
What's New at the Palmyra Historical Society?
Plenty, it turns out.
Some of the new things are old, just new to us. We are constantly adding objects to our collection which by definition are old objects. We are proud of our fixation with the past. Our motto is: “Securing our Place in History.”
To keep track of our large and growing collection, we recently completed a project that will categorize and computerize everything we have. This “Past Perfect” project, which required well over two thousand volunteer hours was completed at the end of 2018. Our institutional memory resides in our computer. That’s new.
To spread our collection out and provide more space in the storage room, we purchased an additional carriage. Each carriage has two sides, called cabinets which have eight shelves which in turn have a varying number of drawers to store items of various sizes and shapes. Three of the carriages are movable which make them fully accessible to our board members. That’s new.
Since it takes modern strategies to preserve the past, we have made significant infrastructure improvements in recent months including new furnaces and zone controls in both the Carlin House and the Turner Museum. These things are new.
Recently, we jumped at the opportunity to annex a piece of Palmyra history when a small wooded property along the Scuppernong River was offered for sale by a private owner. It included the historic Xenobia Springs, which, with the Deep Rock and other springs, helped to define Palmyra to the public for more than a century. We were able to buy the property and donate it to the Village of Palmyra with the stipulation it be used for a park. As of December, 2018, work to build the park is nearly complete. Being a real estate maven was new to us.
The changes at the museums are mostly unseen but essential to our mission. When you visit you can expect to see both the historic Carlin House (built in 1845) and the Turner Museum, built in 1988 to house rotating exhibits and store our artifacts.
As we move along into 2019, we will be changing exhibits in the Turner Museum to be ready for the opening Saturday, June 5. (after the conclusion of the Student Art Show). However, you can always be sure of seeing the permanent exhibit called “Palmyra, then and Now.”