History of the Museum

A Trip Through the Past

The Matteson Historical Society was founded in 1975 to collect items of significance to Matteson's storied past. The Society now houses it's vast collection in the Matteson Historical Museum for all to enjoy. The mission of the museum is to curate, conserve and provide access to the Society's historical documents and artifacts. From educational programs to a fascinating tourist destination, the museum offers an impressive look at Matteson's past.


  • Newspaper clippings: From 1943 to the present.
  • Maps: Topological, plat, zoning.
  • Photographs: People, places and things from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; aerial views.
  • Documents: Documents are listed in a 100 page catalog and include - Village government archives; Matteson Volunteer Fire Department minutes books and photo album; Matteson Civic Association; School District 162; histories of Matteson; property data; church archives; township and village publications; railroad history pertaining to the area; Lincoln Highway history; rare books used by early settlers, with particular emphasis on religious materials printed in German; early German encyclopedias and periodicals. Copy of Archives Catalogue is available at the Matteson Public Library.


  • Matteson Volunteer Fire Department: 1894 pumper and hose cart, helmets and uniforms.
  • Clothing: Early twentieth century women's clothing; military uniforms; firefighter uniforms.
  • Household equipment
  • Farm equipment
  • Business machines
  • Interior furnishings from Dettmering's Tavern
  • Seats from early I.C. commuter trains


  • Education: Classroom teachers and homeschoolers are invited to see how museum exhibits can be used as teaching aids. The museum also provides customized educational programs for school groups.
  • Genealogist: Consult obituary files, family histories and oral histories, and be linked to south suburban genealogical sources.
  • Researchers: (students, historians, writers, real estate developers, environmental engineers and others) Find information on railroads, farms, local businesses, properties, food history, Butterfield Creek, Lincoln Highway, Midwest architecture, German settlements in the Midwest region.
  • Speakers/Programs: Presentations on Matteson history and the Matteson Historical Museum.


  • Summer Passport Program: Fun for children ages 4 through 12 throughout the suburbs from June through August. Call the MHM for more details.
  • Monthly temporary exhibits
  • Program meetings of the Matteson Historical Society


  • Farm Implements: A scythe, and egg crate, a corrnshucker and a milk can...early Matteson was a farming community like thousands of others across the U.S. around 1900.
  • Dettmering's Tavern: One of the earliest businesses in Matteson, Dettmering's served as a farmers' hotel and a lunchroom for the locals. See the original mirror and bar from Dettmering's Tavern at MHM.
  • Illinois Central Railroad: Remember those wicker seats that snagged nylons during commutes to Chicago? MHM has two of them.
  • Household Appliances and Clothing: Outdoor washing tubs and a 1930's wringer washer are on display, and ladies dresses with waists so tiny you won't believe they're real.
  • Matteson Businesses: Typewriters and a calculator that stands on it's own legs and wheels are just two of the many pieces of business equipment and promotional items on exhibit at MHM.