Originally established as a Community Project by the Gwynn's Island Civic League to commemorate the Mathews County Bicentennial in 1991, the Museum started out on a small scale, primarily with Indian and Colonial artifacts from a private collection, and was housed in the Cultural Center, formerly the Shiloh Methodist Church.
From the beginning it was obvious that there was a great deal of interest about preserving the long and colorful history of Gwynn's Island and Mathews County. The Museum grew rapidly and by the end of the first year, space for the exhibits in the Cultural Center had become quite limited. Plans were then made to look for a new home on the Island.
Thanks to the Allen family, an old building at the corner of Rte. 633 and Rose Lane was donated to the Civic League in memory of W. Hayes Allen and Helen V. Allen, lifelong residents of Gwynn's Island. The 100 year old building originally served as the Odd Fellows Lodge and later was acquired for use as the Island's first public school.
In 1921, the Island residents built a new Junior High School on the site where the Cultural Center now stands across from the Baptist Church. The old School House was purchased by the Allen family for use as a general store and barber shop. In 1992, the building was declared structurally sound.
Dedicated volunteers helped restore the building as you see it today. On June 25, 1994, during the Annual Gwynn's Island Festival, the Gwynn's Island Museum opened for the first time.