The Lake County Historical Museum, located in the Old Lake Courthouse in Crown Point, was established in 1982. The museum was funded by the Oktober Committee, organized by Hank and Bea Baum, and is now operated by the Lake County Historical Society. The Lake County Historical Society was established in 1875 with its mission to collect, preserve, and display the history of the county, its pioneers, and early settlers. This goal is accomplished today by the Lake County Historical Museum.
Located on the second floor, the museum houses many interesting exhibits that reflect the history of Lake County and its many communities. Within its four spacious rooms are documents, pictures, and artifacts representing such cities and towns as Gary, Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, Munster, Griffith, Highland, Merrillville, Deep River, Ainsworth, Hobart, Lake Station, Crown Point, Lowell, Cedar Lake, Schererville, St. John, Winfield, and many more.
In the old Clerk's Office, for example, one may stand at the counter where couples obtained their marriage licenses. Crown Point, nicknamed Gretna Green after the famous Scottish border town, was known as the Marriage Mill in the early 1900's because there was no waiting period. A gallery of pictures of such notables as Rudolph Valentino, Cassius Clay, Tom Mix, Red Grange, Colleen Moore, Michael Todd, Joe DiMaggio, Red Skelton, and the Mills Brothers represents some of the many people who obtained their marriage licenses in the courthouse. In the Recorder's office is the rolltop desk used by Captain Norton in 1906 as he mapped out the city of Gary for the Gary Land Company.
An extensive military collection established by Charles McFadden, Military Curator, depicts Lake County's participation in the wars and conflicts throughout history. Represented also is Space Travel featuring photos of Crown Point native and astronaut Jerry Ross who journeyed seven times into space. Clothing and accessories depict the changing fashion throughout the ages. One entire room is devoted mainly to agriculture and its impact on Lake County. Other displays of United States Steel Company and Inland Steel Company photographs depict the introduction of the steel industry at the turn of the century in Lake County.
Many important events are also documented including the Cobe Race, forerunner of the Indianapolis 500 and the LaSalle Expedition through the Calumet region. Schools, government, police and fire departments, businesses, roads and trails, children's toys, household appliances, tools, clothing, furniture, and musical instruments are just some of the displays represented in the museum.
Historic books and documents are available for reading in the library maintained in the office of the museum. The museum also maintains a list of burial records for most cemeteries in Lake County.
For more information, contact Bruce L. Woods, Director at (219) 662-3975 or click here to send email.
The museum, located on the second floor of the Old Courthouse, is open May through October every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Special tours may be arranged by contacting the museum. Please do not request through the website. A donation of one dollar for adults and fifty cents for children is asked.
The museum is a member of the Association of Indiana Museums, the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce, and the Historic Communities of Northwest Indiana. The museum is a 501(c)(3), making donations tax deductible. Please support our efforts in our 25th year of operation by joining our society or donating to the museum.
Historic books and documents are available for reading in the library maintained in the office of the museum. The museum also maintains a list of burial records for most cemeteries in Lake County, and a series of old government books useful for research which were split between the museum and the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest. You can find a listing of these books through the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society website at http://www.nwigs.org/governmentBooks.php .