Fort Wayne, Indiana was named the “most lawless town in Indiana” by the Chicago Tribune in 1875. The History Center features an exhibit known as the “calaboose,” an old slang term meaning jail. Police memorabilia, county history, Native American artifacts and tons of other historic pieces make up the collection at this Indiana museum. The former City Hall building now houses the History Center, and it’s operated by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. It’s a fun destination for an educational day trip from Indianapolis.
The calaboose shows visitors what jail life was like from the early 1900s to 1971 when it closed. Guests agree that the cells look rather primitive in the dark, borderline creepy basement area. The “drunk tank” cell is said to be haunted by two prisoners who allegedly committed suicide while in the cell. Jail keepers put wire screening around the cell’s bars to prevent any deaths, and it can still be seen in the drunk tank today. The ghost story attached to this Hoosier attraction make it a fun haunted site in Indiana. Perhaps even a day trip around Halloween would be festive.
The first floor of The History Center recounts the early days of the area. The city of Fort Wayne is named after General Antony Wayne, who decided to establish an American fort there in 1794. A 1700s era camp bed used by General Anthony Wayne is on display on the first floor, along with artifacts from Miami Indans like chief Little Turtle. That’s not all this portion of the museum teaches about the area. Johnny Appleseed, known for planting countless apple orchards throughout the midwest, is featured in a display here too. His real name was John Chapman, and he died in Fort Wayne in 1845. A flask of his is part of the exhibit about his deep roots in the Crossroads of America.
One floor up is an exhibition on aviation and clothing. Audio-visual kiosks are also on the second floor, each with short historical vignettes. Temporary exhibits are found in the Freimann Room, also known as the former city council chambers and city courtroom. The third and fourth floors flours of the sandstone museum building house historical society offices.
This day trip destination is about two hours from Indianapolis. The Moore-Youse Home Museum in Muncie, the Luckey Hospital Museum in Wolf Lake and the Jay County Historical Museum are all nearby day trip destinations too. A small admission fee is charged to get into the History Center. It’s open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
The History Center
302 East Berry Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana 47802