The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 23, 2019 1:00 am

History not far away

No need to travel sizable distances to visit a museum

Blake Sebring | For The Journal Gazette

Maybe the budget dictates a staycation this summer, or maybe the kids' extracurricular schedule means there's limited time for anything too extensive as a family.

Or, maybe the opportunities in the area are just too intriguing to pass up.

Northeast Indiana is home to a number of small museums that are relatively inexpensive but can capture the attention of adults and children alike. Everyone knows of The History Center, Fort Wayne Museum of Art or the Kruse museums in Auburn, but here's a list of some of the cooler, smaller collections in the area.

Diocesan Museum

Formerly known as Cathedral Museum, the Museum of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend was recently relocated to 1103 S. Calhoun St. and reopened March 12. Previously in the basement of St. Mother Theodore Guerin Chapel, the new location allows for more exhibits and an extra day for visitors, according to director Father Phillip Widmann, who founded the museum in 1980.

“We've got about 40 more items up than we've ever had before,” Widmann said. “That includes some of the paintings Bishop Dwenger brought back from Europe, some of the statuary that we didn't have room for before and some of the little odds and ends mostly. It just all fits together.”

Wonder who Bishop Luers or Bishop Dwenger high schools were named for? This is the place to ask while observing some amazing paintings and stained glass window displays. There's even a handwritten scholar's Bible thought to be written about 1250. There are also statues, chalices and other interesting religious items.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, go to

Karpeles Manuscript Library

There's actually the manuscript library at 2410 Fairfield Ave. and a map museum at 3039 Piqua Ave.

The Karpeles exhibits are part of a national rotation of displays. According to Director Al Brothers, Fort Wayne is one of only two cities that have both manuscript and map museums.

The manuscript museum currently has displays on Samuel Morse and the invention of Morse Code and permanent exhibits of large-scale models of ships the USS Constitution, a Spanish Galleon, HMS Victory and the Vasa. There are also Egyptian sandstone and figurines, a 1793 map of Fort Wayne and an original proposal for the first modern Olympic Games.

Go to

Luckey Hospital Museum

After serving local communities from 1930 to 1957, Luckey Hospital stood as a nursing home until 2000 when it was converted into a museum, according to the facility's website,

The hospital was run by J.E. Luckey and his sons, Robert and Harold. J.E. Luckey's two great-nieces, Mary Adams and Shirley Hile, converted the building into a museum to show off their collection of obsolete equipment. Their collection includes an iron lung for polio patients, a cooling board, which was used to preserve bodies during winter months until they could be buried, and other historic medical equipment and clothing.

The museum, at U.S. 33 and Indiana 109 in Wolf Lake, is open by appointment only.

Mid-American Windmill Museum

The major purpose of the museum at 732 S. Allen Chapel Road in Kendallville was to display all windmills manufactured at Kendallville's Flint and Walling Co.

Since opening in 1992, 52 windmills have been collected for display. Perhaps sticking to its historical roots, the museum does not accept credit cards.

For more information, go to

Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum

This is a part of history that's fun for both adults and kids – especially the kids.

Located at 226 W. Washington Blvd., in what was once the city's largest firehouse, there are all kinds of antique vehicles like an 1848 Button Hand Pumper and an early Steamer on display.

Closed Wednesdays and Sundays, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. For information, go to

Gene Stratton-Porter Historic Site

This one takes a bit of a drive but highlights one of the most famous women in state history.

Gene Stratton-Porter wrote 12 novels, seven nature studies and various books of poetry, magazine articles and children's stories. In 1912, her family moved to Sylvan Lake where they built the cabin “Wildflower Woods.”

With eight of her books being turned into films, she moved about 1919 to California where she died in 1924 from injuries suffered in a car crash.

Among the interesting items on the site are a 16-room log cabin, the grounds and garden.

For more, go to

Hoosier Air Museum

There's more than 16,000 square feet of photographs, books, videos and models about aviation at 2822 County Road 62 in Auburn, but the thing that gets everyone excited are the aircraft , including planes and helicopters from 1915 to 1996.

It is open weekends from mid-March until early December from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, go to

Dan Quayle Learning Center

Opened in 1993 as the Dan Quayle Center and Museum in honor of former Vice President Dan Quayle, who is from Huntington, the facility was renamed as the Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center in 2008 and is home of the United States Vice Presidential Museum.

At 815 Warren St. in Huntington, the facility appeals to historians, but its main focus is educational programming. Topics include presidential elections, the Constitution, Congress, the General Assembly, symbols of Indiana and the nation, Indiana natives who have served as vice president and the history of the nation's vice presidents.

The center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. weekdays. There's more information at

Sheets Wildlife Museum and Learning Center

Another option while visiting Huntington is Sheets Wildlife Museum, which opened in 2005 to showcase the collection of Summer B. Sheets, a farmer who made hunting expeditions around the world. Wildlife specimens are preserved in taxidermy.

For more on the facility at 200 Safari Trail in Huntington, go to www.

Garrett Historical Railroad Museum

At 300 N. Randolph St. in Garrett, the site of a former Baltimore & Ohio freight station has been restored to reflect a typical rural railroad station of the early 1900s.

According to the website (, the basement of the museum is home to the Greater Midcontinent Railroad Co., an HO-scale model railroad layout. Outside is a passenger car and a former Chesapeake and Ohio caboose.

Greater Fort Wayne Aviation Museum

Before aviation security rules changed following 9/11, everyone visiting Fort Wayne International Airport (then called Baer Field) could visit the museum. Now, it's only open to passengers who have cleared security or are participating on a previously arranged tour.

Along with displays of aviation at Baer Field throughout its history, the museum showcases the lives of Fort Wayne natives Art Smith and World War I ace Paul Baer.

Tours are free and can be arranged by calling 747-4146, ext. 433. The website is

Chief Richardville House

Jean Baptiste de Richardville's home at 5705 Bluffton Road is recognized as the Midwest's oldest Native American structure.

Built in 1827, the house was named a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Richardville, the son of a French fur trader and a Miami Indian who was the sister of Chief Little Turtle, built a trading empire by taking advantage of the St. Marys and Wabash rivers.

The Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society bought the property in 1991 and restored the building's interior. Tours are offered the first Saturdays of May through November.

For more, go to

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