WINONA LAKE — As the Indiana Bicentennial approaches the history that surrounds the county becomes more and more relevant. For the next few weeks, A Summer For History will produce a story a week concerning a different museum located in Kosciusko County.
This week’s museum is the Museum of Winona History, located in Westminster Hall at 105 Ninth St. It is a museum that chronicles the varied and exciting history of Winona Lake from its beginning as a dairy business and later an amusement park, through the modern day. The museum itself has been open since 1998 in one form or another, but was reorganized and combined with the Billy Sunday Museum in 2014.
“We generally have anywhere from two to five groups a week … Fair number of seniors and school groups,” said Terry White, the FGBC Church Liason for Grace College as well as the tour guide for the museum.
“The total [number of] visitors for 2015 was 1,122,” He continued, but that number pales in comparison to the amount of people that Winona Lake, or Eagle Lake as it was called, attracted when it was in its peak years.
“As many as 250,000 people would come here on the trains … They came for Spring Water Park and the Chautauqua programs,” stated White.
The Chautauqua movement was an adult educational movement that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and featured traveling speakers, musicians, theologians and performers of all kinds. Winona Lake was one of many centers across the country for this movement, which later made it an ideal location for the theological conference hotspot, as well as a place for evangelists like Billy Sunday to settle in.
The Museum of Winona History is open 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A donation of $2 for a tour of the museum is suggested but not required. A tour of the Billy Sunday home, however, does cost $2.