When History Gets Personal
History Lovers Getaways to Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne’s historical attractions offer you the chance to better understand your own history as you take time to learn at sites throughout our community. Whether you wish to reflect and pay tribute at a replica Vietnam Wall, bring more understanding to the life of Abraham Lincoln, or discover your own family history, they all offer a chance to better understand your own history.
Fort Wayne's Historical Highlights
The History Center
Located in Fort Wayne’s former city hall, and built in 1893, the History Center is a museum and a historic building full of treasures to explore! “Do time” in the old city jail, and discover exhibits, artifacts and photographs which tell the stories of our local heritage, from Chief Little Turtle and General Anthony Wayne to recent innovations.
The Old Fort
Visit the The Old Fort, where history is brought to life through hands-on demonstrations and re-enactments. Time periods from the early 1600s through World War II are represented at different events throughout the season, and the grounds are open year round.
Fort Wayne is honored to be home to this "Vietnam Healing Wall," located at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum, an 80% size replica of the original Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. Set on 40 acres of wooded land, the site and museum honors veterans from all eras of U.S. military service.
The Embassy Theatre
The Embassy Theater opened in 1928 as the Emboyd Theater and was used as a movie palace and vaudeville house. Complete with a pipe organ and 250-room hotel, the Emboyd had the biggest acts of its time. The named changed to the Embassy Theatre in 1952. However, at this time the organ was used much less, so local volunteers like Buddy Nolan paid to maintain and restore the organ. As times changed in the 1960s and 1970s, the Indiana Hotel adjacent to the theatre closed, and in 1972, the Embassy was slated to be demolished. Fortunately, community members were able to save the Embassy with two days to spare. Today, the Embassy has a renovated interior and new sign. The Theatre offers tours and other events for a small fee; check their website for dates and availability.
The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research
The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research at the Allen County Public Library is a new attraction highlights thousands of amazing items including original photographs of Abraham Lincoln, his family, Cabinet members, and generals; letters and documents to and from Lincoln; diaries of Civil War soldiers; and so much more.
Find your story at The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, the nation’s largest public genealogy library. With one of the largest physical collections in the world, plus unrivaled access to world-class digital resources—and free, one-on-one help from professional genealogists—the Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana is one of the best places in the country to research your family history. And did we mention it’s all completely free?
While in Fort Wayne, you can travel the original Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road in the United States, dedicated in 1913. It winds its way over 3,000 miles between New York City and San Francisco. Stop by the Visitors Center at 927 S. Harrison (located right on the route!) to learn more and see a historic Lincoln Highway marker.
Located in historic engine house No. 3, the Firefighters Museum houses artifacts used by the city’s earliest heroes. See two floors of equipment and photos from 150 years of firefighting in Fort Wayne.
The Diocesan Museum
The Diocesan Museum is home to hundreds of religious artifacts, some dating back to the time of Jesus Christ and Abraham. Discover rare, hand-written bibles, beautiful stained glass, statuary, carvings and relics.
See the final reting place of grower, wandering missionary, and friend to all who knew him, John Chapman, a man known throughout national folklore as Johnny Appleseed. Johnny Appleseed’s Gravesite is located in Johnny Appleseed Park, home to a campground and the famous Johnny Appleseed Festival, held annually in September.
Chief Richardville House
Nestled along the banks of the St. Mary’s river stands a stately brick mansion once owned by Jean Baptiste de Richardville. Chief Richardville was the nephew of the famous Miami war chief and the wealthiest Native American in Indiana, having accumulated his fortune in trading. The Chief Richardville House was built in 1827, financed in part by Richardville himself and partly by the U.S. government and was considered one of the finest homes in town. The property along Bluffton Road often hosts events to honor traditional Miami culture and heritage.
Fort Wayne’s oldest cemetery still in continuous use, Lindenwood Cemetery, was once considered outside the city limits, but with the growth of the city, now resides comfortably in the heart of Fort Wayne, just behind the campus of the University of Saint Francis. Morbidly beautiful, Lindenwood features many lovely stone pavilions and sunken gardens, and it has the somber feeling of walking among the remnants of an ancient stone city. Lindenwood’s acres of land and winding paths offer a peaceful place for a casual Sunday stroll or a lovely backdrop for photographers. In addition, it also contains the gravestones of many of Fort Wayne’s famous forefathers and hundreds of Civil War veterans, along with memorials commemorating their sacrifice.
Near downtown Fort Wayne, explore the history of Swinney Park and the Swinney Homestead. Colonel Thomas W. Swinney's home from 1844 was leased to the in 1893 under Swinney's direction that the land be used to benefit the entire city. The home and surrounding land became a city park, which from 1920 to 1953 was leased to other organizations and hosted an amusement park. Today, the park and Swinney Homestead is on the National Registry of Historic Places. You can tour the Homestead, operated by Settlers, Inc., during its public tours. Be sure to check the calendar for dates and availability.
African American History
Located in the John Dixie Building, the African/African-American Historical Society and Museum has preserved African-American history from Allen County. This cozy museum has docent-led tours through its ten exhibits by appointment only. Exhibits include information on African villages and coming to America. Diary entries from William E. Warfield, publisher of Fort Wayne's first Black Newspaper are featured on the first floor of the museum. There are also exhibits about music, local history, the Underground Railroad, and sports.
Bill Blass Centennial
And, in Summer 2022, Fort Wayne is proud to be hosting a 100 Year Celebration of Bill Blass and his Contributions to WWII’s “Ghost Army.” In honor of his 100th birthday, the Fort Wayne History Center is celebrating Bill Blass, an American fashion icon and WWII Ghost Army soldier. Born in Fort Wayne on June 22, 1922, Blass is best known for being one of the premier American fashion designers of the 20th century. This exhibition illustrates Blass’ multifaceted life, containing sections dedicated to his upbringing in Fort Wayne, role in the Ghost Army, and success as a master of design and marketing.