Nauvoo opens 2 historic museums for summer tours

Nauvoo, Illinois opens two of its historic museums for summer tours.

This weekend, Nauvoo, Illinois opened two of its oldest museums for summer tours.

In honor of the openings, a local organization held an event to celebrate the longevity of both museums.

For decades, the Nauvoo Historical Society has had a very important mission.

"We operate two museums. One is the Weld House Museum, which we're in and the other is in the State Park of Nauvoo and that's the Rheinberger House Museum," Weld House Museum Tour Guide Marilyn Sen Candido said.

This year the society honored both museums with a special celebration.

"We have a German Heritage Festival and this is the first time that we've had it," Candido said. "And we celebrate a huge German population. Over two hundred years of history here."

Fort Madison's Brenda Graham brought her family to the celebration.

"We read about it in the newspaper. We have German heritage," Graham said. "We thought it sounded like fun, educational for the kids and especially hearing the band. Not music they typically get a chance to hear."

"All of the artifacts at the Rheinberger and Weld House have been donated by the people who have lived here through the years," Candido said.

The buildings date back to the early Mormon period of the 1830s and 1840s.

All of the artifacts inside the Weld House showcase different periods of Nauvoo's rich history.

"The things that the people come to see here is right along with our timeline," Candido said. "They first come to see our arrowhead collection and the Native American artifacts that we have from this area. We then move on to the very first settlers. We have a Mormon collection and those artifacts were from the family of Joseph Smith as well as from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and the Community Of Christ Church."

The Rheinberger Museum, owned by Alois Rheinberger in the 1880s, was one of the area's most successful vineyards.

More than 163 years later, the trees are still producing grapes.

Many years later it became a home for artifacts from the Civil War and World War I.

"When the Mormons left then, it was vacant," Rheinberger House Museum Tour Guide Iona Siegrist said. "In 1950, the state purchased the Rheinberger Home and they decided what are we going to do with after a few years. So then,they told the people around Nauvoo and they got up what they call a Historical Society in Nauvoo. And they open it in 1958."

The trip gave Graham a chance to bring history to life for her family.

"It's wonderful to come here and really see it," Graham said. "And see what our ancestors have given of themselves and what people are willing to donate to keep that history alive."

Both museums will be open for summer tours until mid-October.