Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin, Indiana

Indiana history is well preserved in small towns, because many of them have fabulous historical museums with collections that began in the early 1900s or before. The Johnson County Museum of History dates back as far as 1923, when the county centennial placed exhibits n store front windows throughout town. In 1931, the Daughters of the American Revolution was granted space in the county courthouse basement, and the museum was housed there for a few decades. It moved into a small house in town where visitors could explore and study area history, and in 1988 the county purchased a former masonic temple on Main street where the museum has been housed ever since.

It’s been an uphill climb for this Indiana museum to stay afloat. In 1997, the third story ceiling collapsed and the exhibits temporarily closed until 2004. Numerous other improvements have been made on the building over the decades, and today it’s an educational stop for a day trip from Indianapolis.

One of the most popular exhibits that can always be seen at the Johnson County Museum of History is Nick’s Candy Kitchen. It’s part of the museum’s Fabulous 50s display, and it was a major hot spot in the evenings after local Indiana sports events. It was frequented in the 50s and 60s, when the drive-in dining style was a huge craze.

Other big hit exhibits at the Johnson County Museum of History are the war memorabilia and Civil War display. Accounts from the Indiana infantry make up the majority of the Civil War exhibit along with information about pioneer settlers and early inhabitants. This Indiana attraction is best known for its genealogy library. Locals are welcomed to come trace their family tree back for generations.

Johnson County Park is one of several Indiana parks nearby, and it’s home to the Sawmill Barn. Inside the barn, Hoosiers can witness antique farm equipment from days past. Another blast from the past at the Johnson County Museum of History is an 1830s log cabin. Just next door to the museum is the former log home of Lewis and Sarah Hendricks, and their seven children.

The home was moved to the museum site after being dismantled and stored for several months. The cabin is a rare piece of Indiana real estate from so far back in time. Dozens of other historic gems complete the collection at this Franklin, Indiana museum, and some change throughout the year.

There are often new additions made to the interactive or educational exhibits at the Johnson County Museum of History, a premier Greater Indianapolis museum.

Video profile of two volunteers at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin, Indiana


Don’t forget to visit the many day trip destinations nearby. The Grave in the Middle of the Road is a unique  site to see. It’s the grave site of Nancy Kerlin Barnett that her family fought to preserve. Now it’s a historical site. Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area is just south of there is Johnson County. It’s the perfect getaway from Indianapolis if you love to hike, bike, fish and spend the day outdoors. The Mallow Run Winery is another day trip destination that’s located to the north of the Johnson County museum of History. It’s a nice spot to sample wine and kick back. Johnson County is a very close destination for a day trip from the Circle City. It’s only a 15 minute drive south of Indy.

Admission to the Johnson County Museum of History is free, but donations are encouraged.

Johnson County Museum of History
135 North Main Street
Franklin, Indiana 46131
Read more about the Johnson County Museum of History here.