Editor’s note: This article is one of a series of articles provided by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance and leading up to the annual Historic Home & Garden Tour. This year’s tour is an opportunity to visit eight homes, a couple museums, a garden, a church, a business and a railroad car. The tour is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 29 and 30 in Urbana. Pre-sale tickets are available at local banks and retailers, and a complete list is available at www.ccpapreserveohio.org
The Champaign County Historical Museum, 909 East Lawn Ave., is a free museum of county history maintained by the county’s Historical Society. The collection was begun in 1934 and current holdings include over 9,000 objects ranging from prehistoric artifacts to Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh’s tomahawk to a 1931 Buick to computer mainframes from the 1980s and almost everything in between.
The original building was built in 1912 to house the Humphrey Memorial School for the County Children’s Home, which stood on these acres from 1891 to 1958. This raised-basement, two-story red brick structure has Colonial Revival porches and wide roof eaves, popular features in academic architecture in the early 20th century. Several additions have been added to the structure and recent modifications, including the addition of an elevator lift, have made the facility ADA compliant.
The building was used as a school from 1912 until 1924 when it was converted into residences for the Children’s Home maintenance staff. In 1929 it was repurposed as the dormitory for “little boys” until the Children’s Home was closed in 1958.
By 1960 only this building remained. All other buildings, including the barns, were razed and the land was sold for building lots and the city park. In 1958 a school for children with disabilities was established in the building and the name was changed to Lawnwood School. In 1972 Lawnwood School relocated south of Urbana and the county commission leased the building to the Champaign County Historical Society (CCHS).
The CCHS opens the free museum to the public Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with more open days planned in the near future) and by special appointment. Historical programs are held each month on the third Sunday at 2 p.m. And history articles are provided to the Urbana Daily Citizen every other week.
The public is always welcome to visit the museum. The CCHS receives no financial support other than dues and donations. Individual annual memberships are $15 and family membership is available at $25.
Learn more about this organization at its website: https://www.champaigncountyhistoricalmuseum.org/
Info from the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.