Welcome

The Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Inc. would like to thank you for visiting this website!


Location:

Located in Syracuse, Indiana in the Syracuse Community Center across from Lakeside Park, the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, has been offering a glimpse back in time for the Lakeland area since 1987. It was founded with funds gained from the Syracuse Sequicentennial Celebration and occupied a room in the Syracuse Public Library until June, 2002 when it moved to its current location in the Syracuse Community Center.


On Sale Now!mier car postcard

The main attraction at the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, the Mier Car, has been made into a postcard and is available for purchase at the museum for $1.00 plus tax.


Comments

Welcome — 23 Comments

  1. What is the cost to visit your museum and do you have a gift shop?

    Gladys Airgood, volunteer
    North Manchester Center For History

    • The Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum is free to all; donations are appreciated.

      We house a small gift shop with books, note cards, pictures, and DVDs of local interest. Check out the “Products” tab for additional information.

  2. I am looking for any pictures you may have of the Hoosier Skateland on St. Rd. #13 South in Syracuse. (where the American Legion is now) We are going to tear down the South part of the building soon & want to sell pieces of the rink floor and would like to put a picture of the building when it was a skating rink on the boards, We are hoping to offset the cost of the tear down with the sales of the pieces. Please contact me, so I may come in to view anything you may have. Thank you for your time. Debbe Kuhn

    • The property on which the Oakwood Inn and Conference Center now sits was originally farmland known as “Conkling Hill”. The first hotel at Oakwood was a large, wood frame structure on top of the hill; it was originally built as a farmhouse, but began receiving guests in 1875, the year when the B&O Railroad commenced service to Syracuse. In 1892, a committee was appointed by the Indiana Evangelical Conference of the Evangelical Church to find and purchase a permanent camp meeting ground; the Conkling Hill 40-acre tract was found and later purchased by the IEC in 1893 from W.F. Frederick for $5,000. At the time, the site consisted of the hotel, a barn, and an ice house. The first camp meeting took place in August 1893 in a large tent. As years went by, attendance grew, buildings were built, roads were paved, etc. The first youth camp, Camp Oaks, began in 1926. Other important programs over the years included Chinese Family Camp (started in 1950), a camp for mentally challenged children (started in 1966), and various week-long camps for training Sunday School teachers. The original hotel has been razed and replaced or renovated several times in its past – once in 1926-27, again in 1995-96, and most recently in 2012-13.

  3. FYI – Marjorie Teetor Meyer has written a book called One Man’s Vision. The Teetor family vacationed for years at Lake Wawasee. They were from Hagerstown, Indiana. Marjorie’s book is about her father, Ralph Teetor; he developed the cruise control. He was a 33 degree mason and an engineer. Why is this important? He was blind! The book tells the story of this remarkable man and his accomplishments. It was published in Indiana and is still available from Amazon.

    • I find record of Mark Honeywell from Wabash, Indiana, residing in Vawter Park on Lake Wawasee in the 1920s and 1930s. He is listed in both the 1928 and 1936 Lake Wawasee Directories. No additional pier information is given. His name does not appear directories from later years. Hope this is of help to you!

  4. We heard it could possibly have been Pier #501. Would that be in Vawter Park, and who would own that lot currently?

    • On further research, it appears that the Honeywell house at one time stood on the land of pier #502. The original house is gone. Check with the WPOA for landowner information.

  5. I am doctoral student currently researching for a dissertation on the professional career of Gary Smith. I am looking for information concerning the Smith Baton Twirling School and the Smith Walbridge Camps that operated near Boner Lake from 1949-the mid 1990s prior to it being moved to The University of Illinois and now Eastern Illinois University. Any historical photos or written correspondence would be appreciated. Merl and Margaret Smith (Gary’s parents) started the camp in 1949. The microfilm from the Syracuse-Wawasee Journal at the Public Library was very helpful but anything else would be appreciated.

  6. I grew up in Syracuse, and I remember the site where Parkside Deli, across from the fire station, was built. To build it, an old car dealership, then vacant was torn down. I don’t remember it being open when we moved to Syracuse in the early 80′s, and can’t remember what the name of it was, or any history on it. Do you have any details on it? Name, type of vehicles, when it closed? Just curious.

    • That location was originally owned and developed upon by the Harkless family of Syracuse. The building was constructed by Herschel D “Pete” Harkless, middle son of Sheldon Harkless, in 1947. It was a Hudson automobile dealership and a Maytag and Frigidaire appliance dealership. It remained an appliance dealership through the 1950′s, run by Harry Appenzeller (married to Betty Harkless Appenzeller) and children. In the Spring of 1963, they opened a full-line Chrysler Corporation Dealership (Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Dodge Trucks, Imperial and used automobiles) at that location known as Lakeland Motors and it remained as such until it closed in1970. At that point the building served as a used-car reconditioning facility until 1976. The building was then leased to a succession of businesses….a printing company, an advertising specialty company, and finally, about 1982, to a used-car dealership called “Buzz” Keck Quality Used Cars. “Buzz” was there until about 1986 then moved on. The building was then sold by the Harkless/Appenzeller family. The building was never torn down; it was added onto and built around. The original building is still there underneath the current façade.

  7. Hello
    I live next to the Spink Condos. I understand there is some pretty rich history from that site. Apparently there was a day when it was a hotel and casino and had some famous clientele. Do you have any information about that property over the years?
    Jeff

    • Yes, We have loads of historical information about this lakefront location. The first building on the site on record was the Cedar Beach Club House, built in 1882 by the Cedar Beach Association, a club whose members were representatives of prominent families from several Indiana cities who had discovered the merits of Lake Wawasee as a summer retreat. Eli Lilly, founder of the pharmaceutical firm, was active in the club. The Cedar Beach Club House burned in 1891. The Wawasee Inn was the successor to the Cedar Beach Club House. It opened in 1892 and changed ownership multiple times over the years before it was also destroyed by fire in 1919. Next, the Spanish-revival style Spink-Wawasee Hotel was built in the mid 1920s on the site. It was run by the Spink family of Indianapolis and marketed as a destination resort, complete with a gambling casino. The hotel was sold in 1947 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend following the untimely death of the Spink-Wawasee Hotel’s owner in an early spring blizzard in the Great Smokey Mountains. The hotel became first Our Lady of the Lakes Seminary and later a Catholic boarding school called Wawasee Preparatory School. It shut down in the mid-1970s. After several years of lying vacant, the hotel was again sold and converted into condominium residences.

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