The Oelwein Area Historical Museum is located at 900 – 2nd. Ave. S.E. It sets adjacent to new Hwy 150 S between Dairy Queen and the National Guard Armory. This attraction has no direct access from Hwy 150; but can be reached by 7th. St. SE near the Dairy Queen or 10th. St. SE near the Armory.
The Museum is open Sundays from 1:00-4:00 PM from June through September. Tours may be arranged anytime. If you have questions about the Museum or to arrange a tour, please call 319-283-4203.
Inside the Museum, located both in the Entrance as well as the Main Hall are paintings by Oelwein artists, past and present.
The “Oelwein Room” contains information and artifacts about the Oelwein family for whom the town was named. In addition, one will find photos of the downtown, advertising items, many scrapbooks of local interest, as well as showcases. Of special interest to all who visit are 3 racks containing page after page of news clippings, stories, old valentines, snapshots, business ads and much more. Did you realize that both Walter P. Chrysler and Charles Lindburgh had Oelwein connections?
The “Schoolroom” contains a “1930′s Classroom” as well as a museum area. This area contains photos of early graduating classes, school Annuals, scrapbooks of every school in Oelwein from the early 1900′s through the present, including the Oelwein Business University and Corn Belt Business College. Also on display are trophies from the 1920′s through the 1950′s.
Room III contains several “Period” rooms, as well as several showcases. Visitors may view a 1920′s Kitchen, 1930′s/40′s Kitchen, a Parlor, a Bedroom, as well as a Sewing Room. In the showcases, one may see everything from hats to handbags, miniatures to muffs, a large pencil/pen collection and the extensive Delft collection of the late Ruth Gerstenberger Warner. The Parlor piano is played, each year, by local musicians for the annual Christmas Open House.
Upon leaving Room III, guests enter an area highlighting Medicine, the Railroad, especially the Chicago Great Western, the Military, Toys, Photography, and much more. You may visit a “General Store”, see a myriad of Business Machines, and view a wonderful telephone exhibit donated by the Telephone Pioneers of America. And before you wend your way back outside, be sure and visit the “Music Place” containing early television sets, early radios, a Civil War Drum, scrapbooks, and highlights of Oelwein’s very own Coliseum Ballroom where couples danced to many of the “Big Bands” of the 1930′s and ’40′s. It’s said that Lawrence Welk really liked Oelwein’s New Home Cafe and would come in for breakfast following his band’s performance.
The Oelwein Area Historical Museum is handicapped accessible and air-conditioned. Admission is free but donations are always welcome.