ELKHART — The Hall of Heroes is on the move.
The superhero memorabilia museum in Elkhart will be relocating this summer from 58005 C.R. 105 to 1915 Cassopolis St., where organizers hope to attract more visitors than ever.
“It’s a mile off the toll road, so it’s perfect for us,” Allen Stewart said of the new site, a former auto parts store. “It’s all one level and it’s double the square footage that we have now.”
The new facility will allow much of the museum’s collection to remain on display, unlike the current location. It will even have a display of classical comic book storage.
“It’s going to be done how it was back in the ’40s and ’50s when the company kept file copies,” he said. “The companies themselves kept file copies of the issues they published.”
With over 65,000 comics, the Hall of Heroes can’t possibly display them all, but Stewart hopes to make as many visible to the public as possible.
“They’ll be able to see the collection and get an idea of how massive it is,” he said. “We are the No. 1 superhero memorabilia collection in the world, but we’re the fourth largest comic book collection in the world after the Library of Congress.”
One half of the display room will feature a DC theme and the other a Marvel. The Iron Man car and the Ghost Rider motorcycle (Hell Cycle) will both be on display for photo opps.
Currently under renovation, the new property will have a gift shop near the front, a reception area and a classic arcade space.
“We’re also going to do a Batcave area, where it’s going to look like the set of the old TV show, with the Bat computer and all that,” Stewart said.
Near that will be a Batman- and Riddler-themed escape room.
“You, as a Bat Team, have been summoned by Commissioner Gordon to come to Arkham and figure out how the Riddler escaped,” he explained.
Visitors will choose which character of the Batman family they would like to play and will perform tasks and answers questions as their chosen character in order to uncover how the Riddler escaped his Arkham Asylum cell this time.
“It follows the comic book’s theme perfectly, but also the escape room, too,” Stewart said. “It’s going to be very popular.”
An event room with a private bathroom will be used to host superhero-themed birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings.
The building has been vacant for nearly a year, Stewart said, but it’s perfect for him. He’s hoping it will allow the museum’s foot traffic to increase from roughly 10,000 visitors a year to 50,000. If that’s the case, he’ll be able to start hiring paid staff and extending hours of the museum.
“The Hall of Heroes is already a major tourist attraction,” said Terry Mark, communications director at Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I think this move to Cassopolis Street is going to be a really good one for them. I think it’s a much more visible location. It has great traffic volume and I think it will also help in that Cassopolis Street will be right along our Heritage Trail driving tour.”
In Elkhart County, visitors spend nearly $370 million a year on hospitality and tourism, Mark said.
“People have been waiting for this a long time, just like we have been,” Stewart said. “We are excited.”
The Hall of Heroes expects to close on the property by June 1, but the not-for-profit organization is still seeking about $200,000 for renovations and for the purchase of the building so it can stay out of debt, Stewart said.