Founded Sept. 10, 1933, by some prominent area citizens, Nobles County Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the history of Nobles County, Minnesota. Initially, space was secured in the Nobles County Courthouse to showcase a few small artifacts, while others were placed in storage across the county in wait for a permanent location.
It took almost 30 years for that to happen. In 1962, a museum was established in the basement of the new War Memorial Building, below the Nobles County Library. At that time, there was ample room for displays and storage of the accumulated artifacts. But a remodeling project in 1996 reduced the space by 40 percent, and the lower level is now shared with Nobles County Art Center.
NCHS is currently renovating the historic Worthington Armory building into a new Nobles County History Center and plans to move into the new facility sometime in late 2021 or early 2022. The new building will feature expansive exhibit space in the Armory's drill hall; a comfortable office suite; expanded library and research room; and most important of all, ample climate-controlled storage in the Armory basement, so that all of Nobles County's treasures will be properly preserved for generations to come.
NCHS serves not only as a repository of documents and relics, but is also charged with interpreting the history for its citizens. To that end, the Society explores historical experiences, such as the Rural Schoolhouse Project, which located each of the county’s 103 rural schools and preserved the photos and memories of the students and teachers.
Another program involved researching all the neighborhood grocery stores in Worthington. NCHS just wrapped up an oral history project that recorded memories of National Guardsmen who served in the Worthington Armory, and has also taken on the monumental task of scanning the vast photographic negative storehouse of the Globe newspaper.
NCHS has published several books, including a history of area railroads authored by the late Ray Crippen, a local journalist and historian, and “Images of America: Nobles County,” a pictorial record, and also offers genealogy research services.
Besides the museum, NCHS maintains a historic site called Pioneer Village, which re-creates an early settlement community through more than 30 buildings, giving insight into early prairie life for school groups, families and tourists passing by on Interstate 90.