Originally constructed as the Free Public Library, this beautiful stone Richardsonian Romanesque structure was built by the Chicago architectural firm of Patton & Fisher with limestone supplied by the Frederick W. Menke Stone Works of Quincy. The Museum is two-story structure with a circular corner tower that rises to three stories and overlooks Washington Park. This building is a contributing historic structure of the Downtown Quincy Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
The Quincy Public Library occupied the building until 1974 when it relocated to a newer facility and Quincy philanthropist John Willis Gardner bought the property. In 1977 the Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design opened and was housed in the building until 2012. When the museum closed, the structure was given to the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County, who has reopened it as the new History Museum in April of 2015.