TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The newly renovated Vigo County Historical Museum is now open.
The museum is located on Wabash Avenue near 9th street. The space includes a café, gift shop, and auditorium. This location is double the size of the old museum. The project has been years in the making. Construction on the museum began in March 2018.
“Well, we’ve been working on this for a long time, getting the building renovated, raising the funds to do that, building out the exhibits…we’re very, very happy with how it turned out, and we’re so excited for people to come out and see it,” Director of the Vigo County Historical Society Susan Tingley told News 10.
Among the three floors of the museum, you’ll find the first face guards for football helmets. Vern McMillian designed those guards, and Terre Haute native George Leach made them in his basement at night after he finished his day job.
“Because at that time no one had ever heard of a faceguard,” Leach said. “And boys were getting their jaws broke, their nose broke…and so once the word got out the orders just started coming in.”
The item soon swept the nation; watching football took on a whole new meaning.
“We had a little TV about this big, and we’d all get down there and when they’d show close-ups of the players, we’d say, ‘Oh look! That’s our faceguard. We made that,’” Leach said.
He shipped his first order of face guards in 1935. He kept two items from that order as a souvenir. They’re now on display at the museum.
“What we also want to talk about is the pride of place that people who live here can feel when they come to the museum and see all of the parts of our history,” Tingley said.
The museum will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 19.
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