History of The Spirit of '76 Museum
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, provided space on the second floor in the museum’s current building which then housed the Wellington Enterprise.

The building was built in 1870 as one of the first warehouses to house cheese. The third floor of the establishment is slanted allow for draining of the ice which was placed there as a cooling system before refrigeration. Although the first and second floors were accommodating 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 allow for the ever growing collection.

The gentleman sought to share the “colorful history” of Wellington and the surrounding country side and sent out a call for artifacts. The response was overwhelming and memorabilia and artifacts poured in from people around Wellington and around the country. Also, eight oil paintings by artist Archibald Willard which had been donated to the Herrick Memorial Library were given to the museum to be housed. The name for the museum was thus the museum was named the Spirit of ’76 Museum to honor one the artists most famous works.