"Go West, Young Man"

A Tour of Greeley's Museums

Article by Emily Montgomery

Photography by Tiara Rose Photography

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Before founding Greeley in 1870, Nathan Cook Meeker had the idea of building a “utopian farming community” with “like-minded people. He visited the Colorado Territory on his way to a reporting assignment, and upon returning to New York decided he wanted to settle his Colony in the West. After touring Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, Meeker then decided Greeley, originally established as the Union Colony, would be the perfect place. 

That was just the beginning of a very controversial history and each Greeley museum holds different pieces of how it became the city it is today.

Meeker Home Museum 

The Meeker home became Greeley's first museum in 1929. Meeker lived in this home with his wife, Arvilla, their daughters Mary, Rozene, and Josephine, and their son Ralph. The home features original décor that makes it feel like it is frozen in time.

The Meeker Home Museum tells the story of Nathan and his family; however, museum staff are working to also broaden the story to include the native tribes and their history after Greeley’s settlement including the 1878 Meeker incident on the White River Indian Agency. 

Centennial Village Museum 

The Centennial Village is a parallel universe into historic Greeley with over 35 historical buildings, costumed interpreters, heritage farm animals and 8-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

The Centennial Village Museum represents the hard work that it took to make Greeley into the special community it is today. The exhibits honor the diverse cultures, traditions and challenges faced by northeastern Colorado’s pioneers whose dwellings tell the story of perseverance, industry and settlement. The Swedish-American Stuga, the German-Russian Shanty and the Spanish Colony House are among other important historical homes located in the museum.

Greeley History Museum 

The Greeley History Museum's main exhibit is “Utopia: Adaptation on the Plains," which presents the formation of the Union Colony, the area’s agricultural heritage, water usage and growth over time and features some of Northern Colorado’s most famous residents like “Rattlesnake” Kate Slaughterback and Greeley's Founder Nathan Cook Meeker. 

"ReFashioned: Giving Objects a Second Life" is a temporary exhibit that celebrates the creative reuse of items, as well as the ingenuity of past Weld County residents. The exhibit is open to the public until July 15, 2023. A special exhibit to honor Chicana activist Dolores Huerta called “Revolution in the Fields” will open to the public September to December 2023. 

"Viewfinder: Through the Lens of Time" is another temporary exhibit that is open until January 7, 2024 and shows the development of cameras. The exhibit shows the early innovations of cameras and how that inspired their current adaptation. 

Finally, the Greeley History Museum has an exhibit dedicated to the Greeley Tribune titled "Reporting from Greeley." This exhibit includes historic photos, stereotype mats and turn-of-the-century printing equipment including an 1899 Chandler and Price treadle press. The building that houses the Greeley History Museum was originally built in 1929 for the Greeley Tribune. Greeley History Museum also includes the Hazel E. Johnson research center, where the public can access thousands of books, letters, and photos from Greeley’s historical records. 

White Plumb- Farm Learning Center 

The White-Plumb Farm Learning Center is the embodiment of Greeley today. The landscape honor’s Greeley’s roots as a tree claim of both old standing trees and newly planted ones. White-Plumb Farm Learning Center further honors new growth through a partnership with the CSU agricultural extension to plant the 1.5 acre field for educational purposes. Still standing is the potato cellar which pays homage to Greeley’s deep agricultural heritage as a leading potato producer. And of course, there is nothing that symbolizes a farm more than a little red barn. While the White-Plumb Farm is still transitioning to a public attraction, it is refreshing to stroll around the grounds and connect with the Western way of life and nature.

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