The original part of the Carriage House and Barn was built around 1859, shortly after the home. In 1980, after the death of P. W. Dillon, the property was given by the family to the Sterling Park District. The home was opened later that year as the Dillon Home Museum. In 1981, after remodeling, the Carriage House and Barn was opened as the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum.
The museum collection originated over 100 years ago when W. W. Davis, a local educator and historian, began collecting items of historical interest. Davis was also instrumental in forming the first historical society in this area, the Whiteside County Historical Society.
Early in the Twentieth Century this group used the Davis collection to establish a historical museum in the old Sterling City Hall. After a number of years the society disbanded and the collection was put into storage in the attic of the library.
When the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society was formed in 1959, the Davis pioneer room collection was donated by his children to form the basis of a new historical museum. The museum was located in the Sterling Coliseum until 1981 when it was moved to the Dillon Home carriage house.
The Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum traces the history of this area from prehistoric days to the modern industrial era. Permanent and temporary exhibits combine to tell the story of our local history and the area's place within the stream of U.S. and Illinois history.