A glimpse of LaPorte County’s fascinating history beckons behind the doors of this stunning brick building, with exhibits about fancy cars, a sports hero, pioneer life, and a murderous legend, plus a huge collection of rare guns. In addition, the museum hosts many special exhibits.
The downstairs level houses the W.A. Jones Collection of Ancient Weapons, one of the largest private gun collection in the world. Jones, who owned an iron foundry in Chicago, searched exotic locales around the globe for his purchases. With the gun collection are featured military items from the Civil War and later.
The Kesling Automobile Collection features more than 30 vintage cars, including two made famous in movies: a 1982 DeLorean, like the one featured in “Back to the Future,” and a 1948 Tucker Torpedo, that actually appeared in the 1988 movie “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.”
Fourteen period rooms reveal what life was like during various time periods in LaPorte County. A 1920s kitchen is complete with an ice box like the ones that were fitted back then with ice cut from area lakes. Elegant period furniture fills the Victorian parlor. In the Pioneer room, visitors see the necessities of settlers’ lives such as a butter churn, spinning wheel, and candle mold plus furniture and household items actually brought to LaPorte County by pioneers in the 1830s. Other rooms include Doctor’s and Dentist’s offices, a schoolroom, 1950s and 1920s living rooms, a general store, a turn of the century office, Victorian bedroom and dining room, and a music room featuring a stained glass chandelier and window from the old LaPorte Theatre.
Memorabilia from local sports star Ron Reed can be viewed in the Sports Display. Reed was raised in LaPorte, played basketball at Notre Dame and then in the NBA before becoming a professional baseball player. In the Belle Gunness Exhibit, learn the dark history of a Norwegian woman who came to LaPorte County in 1886 and purportedly murdered husbands and suitors before disappearing herself. It’s all part of a colorful past!
For more information on special events and exhibits, call or visit the museum’s website. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for seniors 60 and over, and children under 18 are free.