The La Porte County Historical Museum is a great attraction for both visitors and residents alike. The museum allows all of Northwest Indiana to take part in a piece of this great county’s history. They have preserved many works of art, history, and even machinery from long ago, and have always kept their displays on point. Nevertheless, the La Porte County Historical Society felt it was time for an upgrade.
Among the recent changes to their showcases, the museum wanted to enhance the display of their wealth of guns. The gun collection belonged to W.A. Jones before his passing in 1921. His prized possessions have been housed with the Historical Society Collection ever since where it is greatly admired by the public. With nearly 850 weapons on display, Jones’s ancient gun collection composes the majority of the downstairs level of the museum, so the restoration was a huge undertaking.
When he retired, Mr. Jones built a beautiful home on Johnson Road that overlooked Pine Lake. Today, the house is known as Arbor Hill Inn, where it serves as a bed and breakfast. His gun collection was displayed there up until it became a part of the Historical Society Collection soon after his passing.
Before his retirement, Jones owned an iron foundry in Chicago. He spent time travelling the world in search of items to expand his collection. Jones collected pieces from Mexico City, Paris, Dublin, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Cairo, and all around the United States. A variety of miscellaneous items such as war uniforms and pieces brought to him by veterans are also preserved to this day in the La Porte County Museum.
To pay tribute to the guns’ history, the Historical Society wanted to resurface the cabinet stands that support the gun cases. The wooden stands were made with matching grains to fully integrate these additions into the museum. The Historical Society felt that the gun cases were distracting and did not flow with the rest of the museum, so refacing them was their best decision.
“It was time,” said Susie Richter, curator of the museum. "We’ve had them for all these years. They serve their purpose, which is why they were refinished instead of replaced.”
Carpenter Mike Belzowski and his crew completed this project, allowing the guns to be properly presented. The Historical Society invited the Jones family descendants to the grand re-opening of the gun collection. Being able to see the remarkable influence that W.A. Jones had on the museum was really special for them.
Not only is the museum proud to present this upgrade in the collection to the Jones family, but they have also seen an immense amount of positive feedback from the public. Visitors have shared how much they enjoy the exhibit since it fits in well with the rest of the museum. It is safe to say that the restored gun cases complement the legacy of this prized collection.
The La Porte County Historical Society Museum may seem small from the outside, but by adventuring through its exhibits it is clear to see that it holds three floors of great treasure. The tour of the museum is known to be neat and informative while making you feel as though you have traveled back in time all at once. It is refreshing to know that the history of those before us is valued and appreciated by the people of La Porte County.
To plan your visit to see the ancient treasure within the La Porte County Historical Society, check out their Facebook page! Open from 10 AM - 4:30pm, the museum is eager for new visitors, so stop by!