Museum Preserves Gentleman Rancher Legacy

Main house of Quarter Circle A Ranch, home of Bradford Brinton. (Photo by Pat Blair
Main house of Quarter Circle A Ranch, home of Bradford Brinton. (Photo by Pat Blair

Fine art and furnishings and rare documents including an original letter by Abraham Lincoln preserve the history and tastes of Bradford Brinton, the gentleman rancher who gave his name to the museum and memorial just outside Big Horn.

The land was originally homesteaded by the Clark family in 1882, then bought by William Moncreiffe in 1892. He established the Quarter Circle A Ranch, the name under which the site was added to the National Register in August 1976. Chicago businessman Bradford Brinton bought the main ranch house and another 640 acres in 1923. He later bought an additional 2,200 acres to the east and added new buildings, including the horse barn across the creek and Little Goose Creek Lodge. In 1927 and '28, he remodeled the main house, adding porches and bay windows, and an extension to the south and west.

He died in 1936, and his older sister, Helen Brinton, inherited the ranch, which became her summer home until her death in 1960. Her will left the ranch in a trust with a company in Chicago. The museum today is administered by a board of trustees, and is open to the public through Labor Day. Twelve of the 20 rooms of the main house are open to the public in a guided tour. The Reception Gallery on the grounds is the only building that doesn't date back to the Brintons' time. The gallery houses the Brintons' collection of American Indian artifacts, an area for changing exhibits, a sales gallery and a gift shop.

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