WOLF LAKE — The owner of the building that houses the Luckey Hospital Museum has put the property up for sale.
Shirley Hile, 83, owns the building, and has been managing it since her sister died a year ago.
“I can’t do it anymore,” Hile said June 5. “It’s a gem and it’s going to be lost. I’m just sick about it. Sometimes, tough decisions have to be made.”
Hile has put up the museum, the apartments located inside the building and the adjoining home as a package deal. If someone wants to purchase the hospital building by itself, she would go that route, but won’t sell the house as a standalone first.
Hile has sought financial help from foundations such as Parkview Health Systems and Lilly and the IU Medical Center, but because there are apartments inside the hospital building, the museum isn’t available for many grants.
Until the building is sold, tours of the museum can be arranged by contacting Hile at 260-610-3314 or Bev Huntsman at 260-636-2312.
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.
According to the Luckey Hospital Museum’s website:
“Dr. James E. Luckey, founder of the Luckey Hospital, was born in 1865 and graduated from the American Medical College in Chicago in 1892. His medical practice was originally run from the family home, a large Victorian house no longer standing, located in front of the hospital building at the corner of U.S. 33 and S.R. 109.
“J.E. had three sons, Hugh, Robert (Bob) and Harold. Hugh became an oil inspector, Robert followed in his father’s footsteps and became a doctor and Harold an electrical engineer.
“As his family grew along with his medical practice, it became obvious he needed more space, and the impetus for a hospital grew. With Harold’s expertise in the technical aspects of construction, much of the actual design of the building fell upon him with input from his father and brother Bob.
“In 1929 construction began on the three-story brick hospital. The original design blueprints have never been located. It has been related that the terrazzo for the floors came from Italy. Construction continued into 1930 with the opening of parts of the building and by 1931 it was in full operation.
“Upon graduation from Indiana University Medical School, Dr. Bob joined his father in practice at the hospital and after helping design the building, Harold decided to become a doctor as well and enrolled in Indiana University School of Medicine. Both the younger Dr. Luckeys received their surgical training in Vienna, Austria, (sic)
“After Dr. J.E. Luckey’s death in 1938, his sons and other doctors operated the hospital untill (sic) 1957 when the remaining two doctors moved to a new building in southeast Wolf Lake and closed the hospital.
“The hospital building was used as a nursing home, then apartments and a private home until J.E’s two great-neices, Mary Adams and Shirley Hile, purchased the building in 2000.
“The Luckey Hospital Museum had humble beginnings when J.E.’s great-neices Mary and Shirley decided to open a small museum to display their private collection. Both retired as registered nurses and had been collecting obsolete medical equipment for years. The collection has grown and expanded to include the entire first and third floors of the former hospital.”
The apartments are located on the second floor of the hospital.
The decision to put the building up for sale wasn’t easy, Hile said.
“I can’t hardly talk about it sometimes,” Hile said. “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.”