In 1964, the Will County Historical Society was established as a not-for-profit organization, growing out of the work of a small group of dedicated individuals and the need to preserve the history and heritage of Will County.
The organization grew rapidly, and within a short period of time the need for a museum building became evident. With unfailing determination, the Will County Historical Society pursued several avenues in order to establish a museum. Several prospects developed, and ultimately failed, before the Illinois and Michigan Canal Office Building in Lockport, Illinois became available. After two years of discussions and negotiations, official transfer of the historically-significant Canal Office took place on September 4, 1969.
Work was carried out day and night to repair, restore, and preserve this very important structure, and establish within its walls a proper museum facility. On April 16, 1970, Will County celebrated the grand opening of the award-winning museum.
Since 1970, the Will County Historical Society has gone on to also establish a settlement village on the property adjacent to the museum. Fourteen historic structures from throughout Will County has been moved to the settlement village including Well's Corner School (a one-room schoolhouse), the Symerton Depot, an 1873 farmhouse, the Mokena Village Jail, an 1830s log cabin, a blacksmith's shop, and a tinsmith's shop.
Today the organization remains as a not-for-profit. Through the dedicated efforts of its volunteers, the organization is growing in tandem with the county.