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8/31/2017 7:04:00 PM
John Dillinger Museum closes at old Lake County Courthouse
A officer guards a replica jail cell in the John Dillinger Museum where John Dillinger spent his time after being arrested. (Jim Karczewski/Post-Tribune)
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A officer guards a replica jail cell in the John Dillinger Museum where John Dillinger spent his time after being arrested. (Jim Karczewski/Post-Tribune)
A sign stating
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A sign stating "Crime Doesn't Pay" hangs inside the John Dillinger Museum, located in the historic Old Lake County Courthouse in downtown Crown Point. Photo courtesy of South Shore Visitors and Convention Authority

Meredith Colias, Post-Tribune

Crown Point's John Dillinger Museum has seen its final day.

In a press release, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority announced the museum had permanently shut its doors at 11 a.m. Thursday.

"Museum is closed, we apologize for any inconvenience," it read.

South Shore CVA spokeswoman Erika Dahl declined to say why the museum was closed.

"We were actually very impressed with the (attendance) numbers that we had there," she said, "which exceeded the numbers in Hammond."

The contents of the museum will be put in storage, she said. Its employees will shift back to the Indiana Welcome Center, she said.

In July 2015, the 2,100-square-foot museum moved to a space at the old Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point from its home since 1999 at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond. Since then, the museum had received 20,000 visitors, according to their website.

Lake Court House Foundation President Martha Wheeler declined to comment on the museum's closure.

"We were all quite surprised," said Jack Laninga, former owner of the courthouse's clock repair shop. "We came in and there were trucks outside and they were moving out."

The museum housed an extensive collection of historic Dillinger memorabilia and memorial to police killed in the line of duty. It also hosted specialized events dedicated to the history of the notorious bank robber including movie screenings of the 2009 biopic "Public Enemies," displays featuring memorabilia like handwritten court records and a 25-cent admission promotion it held in February.

Last year, two 1921 Thompson submachine guns taken from police during Dillinger's 1934 escape - and that hand-carved wooden gun he is believed to have used to break out of jail with another inmate were put on display to mark the anniversary of Dillinger's March 1934 Crown Point jail escape.

"The Museum was an asset to Crown Point's downtown as it generated additional foot traffic to our local merchants and brought in visitors from across the nation that may not have normally stopped in Crown Point," said Mayor David Uran, according to the statement.

"The Museum not only economically helped our City, but it told the story of our local law enforcement, the FBI and ultimately that crime doesn't pay," he said.

Copyright 2017, Chicago Tribune

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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