Steele City Museums
In historic Steele City, you can visit a working blacksmith shop, livery barn, school, a turn-of-the-century bank and an 1880’s stone church as well as an antique farm machinery display.
- Blacksmith Shop: This native stone building, pictured above left, was built in 1902 by J.W. Peters, a bachelor blacksmith who had his living quarters on the second story. He ran the shop for many years. The shop was restored in the 1980’s and is open by appointment or during Living History Weekends. See the Events Calendar for specific dates.
- Livery Barn: Built around 1900, the livery barn was restored in 1986-87 by the Jefferson County Historical Society and now houses a collection of livery items and living quarters on the second floor.
- Steele City Exchange Bank: Built of brick and native stone in 1890, was originally the Harbine Bank. It was purchased in 1895 by B.E. Pickering, and became the Steele City Exchange Bank on Aug. 5, 1901, when it was purchased by D.B. Cropsey, C.I. Clark, Chester Andrews and Hugh Clapp. Clapp, who was later brigideer general of the Nebraska National Guard, operated the bank until 1915, when it was sold to J.S. Taylor and became the Farmers State Bank of Steele City. The bank was sold to First National Bank of Fairbury in 1938. It was also used as a printing company and a shoe repair business in later years. It was presented to the Jefferson County Historical Society in 1967 and restored in the 1980’s. The front half of the upstairs represents the bank as it was at the turn of the century with the back half of the upstairs representing living quarters. The basement, which housed the kitchen in former times, is now used as a textile display and demonstration area during Living History Weekends.
- Baptist Church: The Baptist Church was built in 1882 with the help of Arthur Bauer, an Englishman who had moved to Steele City. He drew a picture of a church he had seen in England and using native stone brought from south of Steele City, they built a replica. By 1920, most of the congregation of the Baptist Church and the Methodist Church had joined the Presbyterian Church, so they built a new, large church, which still stands. The Knights of Pythias bought the church building then and used it as a meeting place. The Jefferson County Historical Society purchased the building in 1974 and restored it in 1981.
- Steele City High School: This three-story school building, built after Steele City’s first school burned in 1913, houses society’s ecclectic collection. You’ll find everything from fossils to the old-fashioned wooded desks commonly used years ago. Step into a refurbished classroom or take a look at some of the alumni items.
- Antique Farm Machinery: The Society’s collection of antique farm machinery includes one of the first bulldozers and a showing of antique tractors,to a threshing machine. The machinery is exhibited by appointment and during the annual Flea Market and Farm Machinery Show the third weekend in September.