Dr. James E. Luckey’s medical practice in Wolf Lake, Indiana started as a small office and grew into a three story hospital and clinic facility. For nearly 30 years Dr. Luckey ran the hospital with his two sons. Luckey Hospital closed in 1957, and it was eventually converted to its current state as a museum and apartment building. Each year, hundreds of Hoosiers and other guests visit the Luckey Hospital Museum. This fun adventure is great for Indianapolis kids, and it’s a perfect destination for a day trip from Indianapolis.
The hospital’s founder, Dr. James E. Luckey died in 1938. The family business was run for its remaining 19 years by Luckey’s sons. After the hospital closed, it was used as a nursing home, video store, beauty shop and laundromat. Sisters Shirley Hile and Mary Goodrich are Dr. Luckey’s great nieces who purchased the old hospital building in 2000. It was in terrible shape before the two renovated the place, turning it into the museum it is today. It required a new roof, water drainage system, well, septic tank and over 125 gallons of paint. Hile and Goodrich collected medical artifacts for several decades, and now they have a museum to display the items.
The historic hospital building was divided into several different units. The emergency room, the clinic, the pharmacy, the x-ray room and the business office were all on the first floor of Luckey Hospital. Sixteen patient beds were on the second floor, along with a small maternity ward and nursery. The next floor up is where surgeries were performed. Oh, and the basement was reserved as a cafeteria and sterilization area.
The Luckey Hospital Museum is now set up a little differently. The second floor is mostly made up of apartments. The first floor displays equipment and antique nurses uniforms. Shirley Hile even has a few of her old outfits in the collection, including a 1960s miniskirt length nurses’ dress. The third floor of the hospital is being set up as the surgery unity display. This is where visitors can check out the ancient equipment and setup found in a typical surgery in the early 1900s.
Guests to the Luckey Hospital Museum are especially fascinated by the bloodletting instruments displayed. It was a common early medical practice to release bad blood from a person’s body in order to aid the healing process. Another visitor favorite is the museum’s fully functional Iron Lung. It’s a full body respirator that was used in the treatment of Polio, a disease that was eradicated from the United States in the 1990s.
The Luckey Hospital Museum really makes for a fun day trip from Indianapolis. Escape from the Circle City and take the short three hour trip to Wolf Lake, Indiana. This small northeastern town is conveniently located near Fort Wayne, Indiana. This educational adventure could even stretch east to the nearby Mid-America Windmill Museum in Kendallville, where Hoosiers can learn about windmill history and its future as a leading energy source. The Warsaw Biblical Gardens in Warsaw, Indiana and Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in Goshen, Indiana are other nearby Indiana attractions.
Museum hours are summer weekends from 1p.m. to 4p.m. Other times to visit the Luckey Hospital Museum are available upon appointment, so be sure to plan your getaway from Indianapolis in advance.
Luckey Hospital Museum
P.O. Box 143
Wolf Lake, Indiana 46796