We hope this isn’t the last heartbeat of the Luckey Hospital Musuem in Wolf Lake, but at the moment, the prognosis isn’t good.
This week, we reported that 83-year-old owner Shirley Hile is putting the building at the corner of U.S. 33 and S.R. 109 up for sale. Hile, one of the great-nieces of Dr. James E. Luckey, the founder of the hospital, is coming to terms with the reality that caring for the buildings and its collection is just too much at her age.
“I can’t do it anymore,” Hile said Wednesday. “It’s a gem and it’s going to be lost. I’m just sick about it. Sometimes, tough decisions have to be made.”
A final birthday party for the museum will be held July 13. The celebration will be open to the public.
Hile is still holding out hope that someone will purchase the building and keep the museum intact. If that does not happen, however, anyone who has donated items to the museum will be able to retrieve those items.
The museum boasts two full floors of medical-related memorabilia from days gone past.
The decision has clearly been a painful one for Hile. You can hear it in the way she talks about the museum.
“It’s a passion. The kids said it would be a money pit and it was. We’re not sorry (we opened it). We told our kids it was our beer and cigarettes. It’s been an addiction,” she said.
Museums, especially small ones with curious collections, are a tough business. The Luckey Hospital Museum wouldn’t be the first to close in the region recently.
The Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana auctioned its collection in July 2018 and closed.
The Ligonier Public Library, which owns the former Ahavas Shalom Reform Temple that housed the Ligonier Historical Society Museum, was also listed for sale in September.
The Kruse Museum and Expo Center in Auburn recently went through a sale, which for a while put a question mark next to whether the World War II and classic car exhibits would continue there.
There are plenty of other small museums in the area that, we are sure, work hard every year just to keep the doors open.
We can’t say what the future of the Luckey Hospital Museum will be. Maybe a local buyer will purchase it and carry it on or maybe it will be turned into something completely different.
Whatever may happen in the future, we suggest that if you haven’t ever visited or haven’t recently, make a trip to Wolf Lake soon.
Plans are to maintain museum hours until the property is sold, Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with group tours available by appointment.
You can never find a lost opportunity. Don’t wait for this one to pass you by.
And, if nothing else, we would wager your visit might make it a little easier for Hile on the day she turns over the keys to the next owner, knowing that her many years of devotion to the museum were worth the effort.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.