Fall River Historical Society was founded by a group of individuals intent on preserving the history of Fall River, once an important textile center with the distinction of being the world’s largest producer of cotton cloth. The Society was originally housed in rented rooms in the Buffington Building, a commercial structure that was destroyed by fire in 1928. At that time, the majority of the collection acquired by the organization was lost, save a few important artifacts. The organization found a permanent home in 1935 when David Anthony Brayton (1900 – 1975), scion of a prominent city family, donated the residence of his late aunt, Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton (1865 – 1935). Remarkable for its fine state of preservation, the structure, once a station on the Underground Railroad, is the only intact example of the mansions built by the affluent mill owners during the period of Fall River’s greatest prosperity.
The FRHS operates as both a house and local history museum, featuring period room settings and exhibits on various topics. Its holdings of objects, ephemera, and archival material constitute the largest and most important collection of its kind.