An Afternoon at the Westchester Township History Museum

This post was contributed by our community engagement director, Brooke Allen.


It’s time to admit something a bit embarrassing. I’ve lived in Chesterton for a decade and have never stopped to visit the local Westchester Township History Museum. I suppose it’s sort of like how Chicago natives have never been to the top of the Sears/Willis Tower or New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty. Even though a treasure sits right at home, you just never make the time to see it.


Armed with a little extra time last week, I decided to stop in to the museum one afternoon and wasn’t disappointed. I was greeted by Joan, a volunteer who walked me through the museum to tell me its history.  Housed in the historic Brown Mansion, the Westchester Township Museum is a relic itself, furnished to the time period in which it was built. The addition to the building is a small gift shop and museum.


Some things I LOVED:

–The original details still with the house are special. Stained glass windows, little architectural features, and oh my goodness, the Audubon print in the dining room is gorgeous!

–A couple of original Frank Dudley paintings over the fireplaces were a lovely connection to the dunes.

–The giant grandfather clock in the sitting room chimes at the quarter hour, and it’s tone is beautiful.

–You can tour the entire house with a guide, even the upstairs bedrooms currently converted into offices for the museum.


Sun rays coming through the original stained glass around the front door.



The grandfather clock. I think I remember Joan saying it weighs hundreds of pounds because it’s so big!



Frank Dudley’s famous paintings capture the Indiana Dunes perfectly.



The gift shop is a hidden gem of Indiana Dunes items! I’m pretty sure I can get all of my Christmas shopping done here this year. South Shore Line posters, kids toys, postcards, Indiana Dunes books, mugs – so much to choose from.


So many great gifts and souvenirs, many of which are Indiana Dunes-themed.



Finally, I enjoyed the kid-friendly exhibits, too. It was really neat to see the local history laid out as a timeline that wrapped around the room. I learned some things that I didn’t know about the area, and I think it’s worth visiting whether you’re a resident or tourist.


From prehistoric times through the modern era, the exhibit traces local history.


But my final, favorite part of the visit? When I was done browsing, Joan (my guide), walked me out the front door with an invitation to return, as if it was her own home and I was a true guest. When was the last time you visited a museum with personalized attention like that?!


For more information on the Westchester Township History Museum and the historic Brown Mansion, check out our video in our Three Interesting Things series:



When you’re done at the museum, extend your adventures by checking out some other local treasures in Chesterton like the Chesterton Art Center, Yesterday’s Treasures Antiques, and grabbing a bite to eat at Octave Grill!

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