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The Portage Historical Museum Preserves and Displays Portage's Past

The Portage Community Historical Society Alton Goin Museum preserves and protects the history of Portage, Indiana. For over 30 years, the museum has been carefully curated and has grown.

The museum features history about the first mayor of Portage, which includes a replica of his office, with many of the original items, a display specifically dedicated to Portage High School where you can find an abundance yearbooks, and a display celebrating the culture of the Potawatomi Native Americans. There are model planes, and old toys too.

The bottom floor is reserved for celebrating the Portage Police and firefighters, and also features farming equipment. Demonstrations are held at a loom with lots of colorful fabric set up in it.

Some of the items in the museum actually belong to the members. Charter member, Lois Mollick, donated some of her mother’s china and her Portage yearbook.

Val Roach, President of the Portage Community Historical Society, has donated some of her son’s old toys. Their donations are a way for them to help educate Portage about the past.

“It’s very important to keep the history for the youth. To get them to understand, what it was like back in our time, and how things were,” Roach explained.

Her favorite thing about the museum is the kitchen area. It’s made to look like a real kitchen, complete with details like an icebox and flour sifter.

“It reminds me of my kitchen from when I was a little girl,” Roach said.

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Mollick remembers the first meeting of the Portage Community Historical Society.

“I’ve been here since it was started in 1988. I was here in June of 1987 when Carl Fisher, the park superintendent, put an ad in the paper wanting to know if anybody was interested in starting a historical society. There was about 20 of us that met behind the original old house, ad by 1988 we were a not-for-profit organization,” she said. 

30 years later, the museum has outgrown two locations, become a source for the history of Portage, and has created a history of its own along the way.

As for the history behind the name of the museum: Alton Goin, was a Portage native and instrumental in the building of the museum.

“He went to Portage High School and was the class of 45," Mollick continued “In 2003 we got this old fire truck that belonged to the volunteer fire department in Portage, and after we became a city, we gave it to South Haven and South Haven used it for a good many years until they gave it to us in 2003. That’s when Al became involved, he used to drive that exact truck when he was a volunteer firefighter.”

Mollick was involved in the naming of the museum and heartily agreed when Alton Goin’s name was suggested.

“There’s no doubt he deserves it,” Mollick said. “He helped build one of our buildings.”

When asked what the oldest thing in the museum was, Mollick joked, “Me!”

The museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit http://www.inpchs.com/

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