Allen County Museum

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Allen County Museum
Established 1908

620 West Market Street

Lima, Ohio 45801 United States
Type Children's Museum, History Museum [1]
Website Allen County Museum

The Allen County Museum is located in the city of Lima, the county seat of Allen County, Ohio, United States. Occupying a half city block, the museum campus includes the main museum building, a log house, the MacDonell House (a Victorian mansion), a Shay Locomotive display, Military/Transportation building, the Children's Museum, and the Children's Garden. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. According to recent reports of the American Alliance of Museums Accreditation Department, less than 800 museums, out of more than 11,000 in the United States, are accredited. Standards for accreditation apply across the board to both small and large institutions.

The Allen County Museum is operated by the Allen County Historical Society which was formed in 1908. Originally located in Lima's Memorial Hall, the Historical Society outgrew the available space by 1935, and began privately raising funds to build a museum. Spearheaded by Elizabeth M. MacDonell, and supported by the notable John Wesley Van Dyke, Chairman of the Atlantic Refining Company, the organization successfully raised the needed funds to build a separate facility.

World War II interrupted construction plans, but by 1954 the cornerstone was laid—a stone from the original White House, Washington, D.C. Since that time, the Historical Society has amassed a large collection of items—both local and international. Archival and documentary railroad collections include builder's prints and diagrams from the Lima Locomotive Works, which was the third largest steam locomotive builder in the United States. Central to the production of the Lima Locomotive Works was the Shay engine, invented by Ephraim Shay.

MacDonell House[edit]

MacDonell House
MacDonell House in Lima, front.jpg
Front of the house
Allen County Museum is located in Ohio
Allen County Museum
Allen County Museum is located in the US
Allen County Museum
Location 632 W. Market St., Lima, Ohio
Coordinates 40°44′25″N 84°6′58″W / 40.74028°N 84.11611°W / 40.74028; -84.11611Coordinates: 40°44′25″N 84°6′58″W / 40.74028°N 84.11611°W / 40.74028; -84.11611
Area less than one acre
Built 1893
Architectural style Shingle Style
NRHP Reference # 78001999[2]
Added to NRHP September 20, 1978

The MacDonnell House, also known as Banta-Van Dyke House, is a Shingle style house that was built in 1893. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The listing included two contributing buildings.[2]


Among its outreach programs, the museum has presented a post-millennium series of panel discussions and unique tours of area historical attractions. These were offered during the years of 2001-2003 and were organized by Jean Engstrom, a popular columnist for the Lima News, famous for her "Makes My Heart Smile" tagline. The indoor programs were preserved on videotape and are available from the museum on VHS cassette. They covered topics such as:

  • Lima octogenarians
  • Septuagenarians
  • WW II as experienced by Lima soldiers
  • Korean War as experienced by Lima soldiers
  • Life at Superior Coach
  • Life at Westinghouse

One of the programs, "Growing Up In Lima During the 1930s", was based on the 2003 book of Lima stories, Come Reminisce With Me, by Dr. Emmett Murray Jr., and was the best-attended lecture-style event in the museum's history.


  1. ^ "Allen County Museum Museum: About". ARTINFO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  2. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 

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