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Heritage Hall Museum

169 East Church Street
Marion, OH
Phone: 740-387-4255 - Tty: -

Statement of Purpose

Collection and preservation of historical artifacts is a key component of The Marion County Historical Society's purpose. We exist to maintain interest in the history of Marion County; create an interest where it does not now exist; to collect preserve, exhibit and interpret for public education and enjoyment, historical artifacts and information and to encourage historical research and publication. Our museum houses thousands of artifacts that illuminate Marion County history.

Highlights & Collections

In 2013 the temporary exhibits are on “Marion during the Civil War” a two part exhibition with displays on both soldiers’ lives and the   and a history of photography and how local families used photography to record their lives. Marion County and the Civil War

        Prior to the Civil War, the Underground Railroad helped runaway slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. Those who aided the runaways were called “conductors” and the places they where they hid fugitive slaves were known as “stations.”   There were at least three Underground Railroad stations in Marion County and a portion of the exhibit is dedicated to those conductors.     

    The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret order of Southern sympathizers in the North during the Civil War. Its members were known as Copperheads.  In Ohio the group was largely composed of Peace Democrats, who felt that the Civil War was a mistake and that the increasing power of the federal government was leading toward tyranny.  Many modern-day Marionites don’t realize the connections, Clement L. Vallandigham, prominent member of the KGC had in Marion County early in the Civil War.  In addition, several prominent local citizens were arrested for disloyalty and held for a time at Cleveland.

    At the time of the Civil War, the Democratic Party dominated Marion County politics.  Abraham Lincoln failed to carry the county in either of his presidential bids.  Even so, when the southern states seceded and Lincoln called for volunteers to help put down the rebellion, Marion County men responded.  Within ten days, two full companies of Marion County volunteers (about 200 men) went to Columbus for training.  An article in the May 2, 1861 Marion Democratic Mirror by one of these volunteers states, “A gentleman from Columbus informs us that the two companies from Marion are among the finest looking and the most promising soldiers at Camp Jackson.” 

            Of Marion County’s approximately 2,000 Civil War soldiers, 65 were killed in battle.  Another 290 died of other causes while serving in the military.  Marion County was indeed fortunate that so many of its soldiers “came marching home.”

The Marion County and the Civil War exhibit tells the story of the Civil War and its effect on the citizens of Marion County. This exhibit  is open March 3  thru Dec. 30. Call 740-387-4255 for more info or go to

          Hall Museum

Major Collections:

Some of the notable items in the collections are: a large collection of political badges used during the 1920 Presidential campaign; a complete collection of Warren G. Harding memorabilia (Marion was Harding's home town); quilts and coverlets dating to the mid-19th century; a wood cradle used by an early Marion County family; twelve dinner plates from the Hardings' White House china; a unique ink-on- paper group silhouette drawing of the Von Heyde family, some of whom settled in Marion County; an 1879 hand-pulled pumper used by the Marion Fire Department; an important collection of photographs relating to the Village of Prospect, located in southern Marion County; trophies and memorabilia related to the 1938 Miss America reign of Marilyn Meseke, a Marionite; and a record of stock sales by the Marion County Bank in the 1890s.

Two large collections of tools (mostly farm tools) help create an understanding of the type of work done on the farms of Marion County. As fewer people have direct connections to the farm, the significance of these collections will be even greater. Marion was a booming city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A wealth of material in the collections relating to this era reflects this. Notable artifacts include Victorian era parlor furnishings; catalogs and promotional material produced by The Huber Manufacturing Company and The Marion Steam Shovel Company, Marion's leading industries during that time; records and ephemera from the YMCA, Women's Christian Temperance Union, and other organizations; and photographs of individuals, families, businesses, and social and cultural events.


Major Research Fields:

The collections of The Marion County Historical Society preserve important aspects of Marion County's cultural heritage and provide valuable insight into the past. We strive to assist Marion Countians, scholars, and researchers alike. During World War II, the U. S. Army acquired a large parcel of land in Marion County. There they built the Scioto Ordnance Plant, Marion Engineer Depot, and a prisoner-of-war camp. The former owners of the land gave up family farms, a church, and their community to support the war effort. In the 1960s River Valley Middle School and River Valley High School were built on the site and were later found to have high rates of cancer among former students. Between 1998 and 2008 the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Army, and others studied the site to determine whether cancer-causing materials were dumped there. All consulted MCHS collections.


Permanent Exhibits:

On permanent display is Prince Imperial is a Norman, (a breed now called Percheron) horse born in France in 1865.  Jacob Howser obtained Prince Imperial in 1868 from the stables of Napoleon III.  Mr. Howser was a partner in The Marion Stock Importing Company and traveled regularly to Europe to buy stock to improve local bloodlines.

Prince Imperial

Prince Imperial became well known because of his unusually long mane, foretop, and tail.  For many years he held the world’s record for the longest mane.  He became a family pet of the Howser family and was shown at fairs and similar gatherings throughout the region. When he died, his body was packed in ice and sent by rail to Rochester, New York.  There, the Ward Scientific Company, the same company that had stuffed the famous circus elephant, Jumbo, prepared Prince Imperial, stuffing and mounting the body.  For a time, the stuffed horse was kept in the parlor of the Howser home.  The family continued to exhibit Prince Imperial’s body publicly.  Horse lovers may notice that in our exhibit Prince Imperial’s mane hangs on the wrong side of his body.   This was done for display purposes.  The boards on the divider behind the horse are from the crate in which the horse was moved from place to place to be exhibited after his death. 

MCHS’s also has two rooms filled with  Harding Presidential Collections which chronicle the life and career of Warren G. Harding of Marion, 29th President of the United States. This display includes a large collection of political badges used during the 1920 Presidential campaign and an extensive collection of Warren G. Harding memorabilia.

Rinker/Howser Resource Center:   The Marion County Historical Society and the Marion Area Genealogy Society jointly operate the Rinker/Howser Resource Center, a research facility for Marion County and Ohio history. Resources include books, manuscripts, family histories, bound Marion newspapers, videos, audiotapes  and Family Tree Maker software.

  Museum Shop: The Heritage Hall gift shop offers publications focusing on Marion County history and locally produced products as well as Marion and Ohio souvenirs.

Exhibits & Special Events

2013 Calendar of Events:

Night at Heritage Hall Gala Opening at Heritage Hall

March 21             Thurs.   6:00-8pm pm    

The Marion County Historical Society presents our first gala event with costumed re enactors portraying historic personalities, hors d’ouevres, and beverages.

Tickets are $15 individual and $25 per couple.   For more info call MCHS at 740-387-4255.


Night at Heritage Hall at Heritage Hall

March 22 & 23   Friday& Saturday 7:00-9:30pm  

Exhibits Come to Life During  “A Night at Heritage Hall”

Imagine roaming Heritage Hall at night! Picture yourself, as the doors close and the lights dim, you and your family head out with flashlights in search of adventure.

There are interesting characters around every corner.  Courageous participants explore the dimly lit museum with flashlights, meet historic personalities and discover many new things about the past as they travel among exhibits throughout Heritage Hall that spring to life to tell their stories.

    Pre-registration for non-members is $7 per person;   

    Tickets at the door are $8.

    Pre-registration for members is $3.50 per person; 

    Tickets at the door are $4.

Tour times: Friday, March 22 , 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM.  

      Saturday, March 23, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM

To register your family or group for one of the flashlight tours, send your check or money order to NAHH Heritage Hall, 169 East Church Street, Marion OH 43302  (be sure to specify which night) or purchase tickets online at

  For more info call MCHS at 740-387-4255.

The pre registration deadline is March 22.  Registration is limited so don’t delay!


Lincoln and Constitution Exhibit opening at Heritage Hall

April 20 Sat.        1-4 pm 

Using the Constitution as the cohesive thread, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” offers a fresh and innovative perspective on Lincoln that focuses on his struggle to meet the political and constitutional challenges of the Civil War. Organized thematically, the exhibition explores how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the war—the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties. Visitors will leave the exhibition with a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis. This exhibit will be at Heritage Hall through May of 2013.


A Rebellion to Remember; Heroes, Spies and Copperheads, Panel discussion, dinner/winetasting                            Palace May Pavilion

April 20 Sat.        5:30- 9pm

Join MCHS at 5:30 PM on April 20 at the Palace Theater Pavilion in Marion for our annual themed dinner and panel discussion.  This year’s event focuses on the Civil War and features costumed re-enactors portraying  key players on both sides of the conflict. The evening includes a wine tasting featuring locally produced wines, a dinner consisting of historic foods where guests may dine with a Civil War Era dignitary and a panel discussion on the war itself. This event is a partnership between the Marion County Historical Society and Primrose Retirement Community of Marion. For more information or to purchase tickets go to or call 740-387-4255.


Rummage Sale  (Open to the Public) held in Heritage Hall Auditorium

May 04 Sat.        9:00am


Claridon Prairie Tour       Intersection of SR 98 & SR 309, Marion OH

Aug. 11 Sunday 1:00pm

Learn about Marion County’s prairie flora and history at this free tour. The tour starts at 1PM. Go to or call 740-387-4255 for directions and more info.


Trella Romine Prairie Preserve Tour         Intersection of SR 203 & SR 739

Aug. 18 Sunday 1:00pm


Popcorn Festival – Museum Open Extended Hours

Sept. 05-7            Thursday, Friday,  Saturday 12– 6pm      

Learn about Marion County’s prairie flora and history at this free tour. The tour starts at 1PM. Go to or call 740-387-4255 for directions and more info.


Travel Through Time; Civil War reenactment       Sawyer Ludwig Park, Marion OH

Sept.21 &22        Sat. & Sun.          10-5 Saturday and  11-4 Sunday

The Marion County Historical Society presents a hike through the 18th and 19th century.  Meet Native Americans, militia, early settlers and Civil War soldiers as you step back in time with period food and vendors. Guests will also have the opportunity to travel a dirt lane through the south and forage with the 121st O.V.I. during the Civil War. For more information or to purchase tickets go to or call 740-387-4255


Behind Closed Doors      Marion County locations to be announced

Oct. 12  Sat.        1-5pm  

Join the Marion County Historical Society on Saturday, October 12 from 1-5pm as we go behind doors in Marion that are normally closed to the general public.

Tickets are $8.00 in advance and will be available for purchase starting October 2 at Heritage Hall or online at Each ticket purchased in advance will include a souvenir booklet with information and pictures of the various tour sites.  Tickets will also be available for $10.00 the day of the event at each of the 5 tour locations.


Ham & Bean Dinner        Kingston of Marion, Marion, OH

Oct. 19 Sat.        4:30pm

   The Marion County Historical Society and Kingston of Marion present the 5th Annual Ham & Bean Supper. Tickets are advance sales only and are available at the cost of $5.00 per dinner. Carry Out will be available upon request. There will be free entertainment, great food and silent auction items available.  The event will be held at Kingston Residence of Marion, 464 James Way, Marion, Ohio. Please contact the Marion County Historical Society (740) 387-4255  or go to to purchase your tickets.


Dinner with the Presidents          TRECA , Marion OH

Nov. 02 Sat.        5:30-8:30pm

Meet and dine with various Presidents of the United States of America  November 2, from 5:30 - 8:30 PM!

The evening begins with a gala reception and the arrival of the Presidents followed by a Buffet Dinner of dishes enjoyed by those presidents while in the White House! Reservations must be made by October 26th, 2013. Event Prices $25 single, $45 couple, children's meals available at $20 each, and  VIP $30 single or $55 couple. VIP seating with presidents is limited, order tickets early!


Holidays at Heritage Hall –

Dec. 07 Sat.        1- 4pm                  Heritage Hall Gift Shop

Book Signings w/ Local Authors; 20% Discount on Gift Shop Items for MCHS Members


1:00 – 4:00 PM  Wednesday – Sunday, May through October

1:00 – 4:00 PM  Saturday & Sunday, November , December, March & April

Museum closed to tours in January and February for exhibit change

Admission & Directions:

Key Personnel:

Gale E. Martin, Executive Director

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