The mission of the Maumee Valley Historical Society is to collect, preserve, study, interpret and communicate the history and culture of the Maumee Valley for the public. This mission is accomplished through a variety of educational programs, events and projects, which are presented within the context of an early nineteenth to early twentieth century recreated village around a central green on the grounds of the Wolcott House, using period structures containing appropriate furnishings and artifacts.
The roots of the Maumee Valley Historical Society extends back to 1864 when a group of early pioneers and entrepreneurs came together to form the Maumee Valley Pioneer Association. Their stated purpose was to protect the historic artifacts of the Maumee Valley and to document the history of the early settlers for future generations.
John Hunt served as interim president until July of 1864 when Jessup Scott presented a formal constitution and Peter Navarre was chosen President, a position he would hold until his death in 1873. The group included many prominent early residents as members and trustees, including James M. Wolcott who helped apply for the first official charter in 1902. D.K. Hollenbeck was elected first president under the charter, whose provisions continued to be collection and preservation of manuscripts, relics and monuments and acquiring “ a place of security to preserve them.”
By 1918, as many of the original members passed on, the group evolved into the Historical Society of Northwest Ohio with newer leadership and the Honorable John Doyle of Toledo as President. The HSNW perpetuated and broadened the original purposes. Their stated goals were to acquire books; to encourage the writing of manuscripts; deliver lectures on historical subjects; to collect objects of historical interest and provide for their preservation and exhibition and, importantly, to provide a museum to house their collections.
This last goal would be realized in 1957 when Rilla Hull, the last descendant to live in the Wolcott family home would leave the building and grounds to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with the hope that it would become a museum to honor the early settlers of the Maumee Valley. St. Paul’s lacked the resources to operate a museum. However, visionary members of the church and both the HSNO, and the local Maumee Historical Society devised an arrangement whereby the church would sell the property to the City of Maumee and the two societies would merge as the Maumee Valley Historical Society with the primary intent to restore, interpret and manage the new Wolcott House Museum while perpetuating the original goals of their predecessors. Judge Lehr Fess, president of the HSNWO became the first president of the Maumee Valley Historical Society.
Although the original mission has continued to be a guiding force throughout the years, it has expanded to include the operation of a six building museum complex and a broad range of educational, cultural and historical programs. From publishing an annual collection of historical reminiscences, the Society publishes the highly regarded Northwest Ohio History and each year plays host to hundreds of school children and adults who tour the buildings and are introduced to the rich history of the Maumee Valley.