About the City of Greeley Museums

The City of Greeley’s Museums trace their origins back to the 1870s.

On December 7, 1870 Nathan C. Meeker, Greeley’s founder, suggested to the townspeople the following:

Now, while we are daily exploring the prairies, mountains and streams and even bringing up the buried treasures of the ages from the ground beneath us, we hope that our people will bear in mind the fact that we are organizing a museum for the benefit of the whole colony and whenever anything appropriate may be found, let it be placed among our common treasures and we will soon have a collection that will be both instructive and entertaining.

Bring specimens of fossils, petrification, minerals and even birds and small animals, which will be properly prepared. Many of our people have rare articles which they have expressed a wish to donate so that it could be cared for. A room has now been appropriated for this purpose in connection with the Reading Room by the trustees and it will be placed in the hands of competent persons for the classification of all donations.

Nathan C. Meeker

Today, the purpose of the City of Greeley Museums remains essentially the same: to collect, preserve, interpret and share the history of northeastern Colorado.

The Meeker Home, built in 1870, is a unique adobe two-story austere home, originally built to house the City of Greeley’s founding family. Nathan Cook Meeker, his wife Arvilla Delight and their three daughters: Mary, Rozene and Josephine, lived there.

In 1929, Greeley residents organized and purchased the Meeker home to be Greeley’s first official museum.  Within a few decades the Meeker Home Museum was too small to house the artifacts, photographs and documents that were collected. The Greeley Municipal Museum was created in 1968 in what was to become the Lincoln Park Library in downtown Greeley.

Just over one hundred years after the Meeker home was built, citizens of Weld County began work to acquire local historic structures to create an open air museum. Its original focus was to tell the tales of the determination and bravery displayed by this region’s early pioneers. Structures were collected and exhibits of collections installed in them to tell our unique heritage. Celebrating Colorado’s centennial and the nation’s bicentennial, the collection was named Centennial Village, and located next to Island Grove Park Regional Park. Centennial Village held its grand opening July 4, 1976.

By the end of the 1990s, Greeley’s collections of historic artifacts, images and documents had grown so excessive that proper storage and history was impossible to appropriately manage.  A number of options were debated; funding requests were made and the 2-A Bond project was accepted by Greeley voters in 2002, permitting the acquisition of a downtown facility for exhibits and artifact collections care. The result was the Greeley History Museum, installed in the 1929 Greeley Tribune Building at 714 8th St., and opened to the public in July 2005.

Greeley History Museum has multiple exhibit galleries, the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center, numerous public spaces, staff offices and essential storage areas for 2-D and 3-D artifact collections.

At the City of Greeley Museums, we continue to collect, preserve, interpret and share the history of Northeastern Colorado. We welcome the public to be a part of our museums. Consider donating or volunteering today!

Do you remember anything about July 6 in the year you were 13 years old?
In her oral history, part of the Greeley History Museum’s collection, Charlotte Beeten recalls what she saw near her home in Johnstown on that day in 1924, when she was 13 years old :

“The meteorite fell on July 6, 1924, and I shall never forget that day. My sister had been visiting us from California and she was leaving for home that day. My father and I were putting her suitcases in the back of the car. We were out in the yard doing that. All of a sudden we heard this horrible, horrible roar and we looked up and saw this big ball of fire coming from the southwest. It looked as if it was going to land right in our front yard. My father said, “Run into the house!” By that time my mother and sister were running out of the house to see what was happening. So I never did get into the house. It finally landed right across the road from Village [?] Chapel and, of course, we saw the landing and we saw the smoke still coming from it. My father was the first one on the scene. When it was cooled and the smoke had subsided, he held the meteorite out of its resting place. […] It embedded itself about two feet into the ground.”

The 20-pound meteorite was given to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and its story has lived on in newspapers as recently as 2000. On July 6, whatever you’re doing, watch the sky - you never know what a day will bring!

Please note : Personal stories are a really important way of saving history. If you’re interested in helping us transcribe oral histories like this one, please call 970-350-9220.
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