The Elbert County Historical Society evolved from an early “Pioneer’s Picnic” in June of 1956. The picnic far exceeded the expectations of the sponsors, as a crowd of over 200 people -many of whom were descendants of early settlers- gathered at the newly constructed, red brick Kiowa Elementary School. Before the end of the day, the group had decided to organize a county historical society and elect a board of directors, with Jake Kruse being chosen as the first president. Their original vision of preserving the history of Elbert County through photographs and artifacts took shape in the years to follow as collected items were stored in barns and garages across the county, waiting until a museum could be established.
With a sense of historic pride in the mid-1970’s brought on by America’s Bicentennial; interest in the Elbert County Historical Society was rekindled and a younger generation of county residents embarked upon the ambitions of the original group. This second generation actively worked towards building a museum through their diligent fundraising efforts and continued perseverance towards collecting county relics.
The most recent renewal of the Elbert County Historical Society came in the early 1990’s, when it acquired the original Kiowa High School building. The unique design of the Spanish colonial revival style structure seemed to be the ideal location for a county museum and the timing couldn’t have been better. Built in 1921, the building had served its original purpose of educating the youth for 60 plus years, but after being replaced with modern facilities and used as storage for the school district; the structure was in a state of growing disrepair.
After the Society obtained the old school house in 1991, work began on the building and plans were drafted for its first displays. A grant made possible through the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities funded the first permanent exhibit Window to the Past, Door to the Future, which was unveiled in June of 1993 during the official opening ceremonies of the Elbert County Museum.
Today, 60 years later, the resolve of the Elbert County Historical Society remains intact and centered on preserving the county’s history for future generations.