Preserving the Past

When the country needed them most, the residents of Evansville delivered. During World War II, Evansville was the most productive manufacturing city in the world, per capita. Workers in the city produced planes, ships, bombs, and much more for the war effort.

Now, nearly seven decades after the war ended, a group of local citizens is working to preserve Evansville’s wartime history. The Freedom Heritage Museum, officially founded in 2012, doesn’t have a physical location yet, but is already active in the community.

The museum’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the objects produced by and the personal accounts of local residents during the war. That will allow future generations to become educated about the effort and sacrifices that were made in the cause of protecting freedom.

Freedom Heritage Museum President Richard Litov and Executive Director Jack Buttrum say the group is trying to step up its publicity efforts this year. The Freedom Heritage Museum board members have formed a partnership with the LST 325 board, and have cooperated on fundraisers. And they also have formed bonds with World War II groups and museums across the country.

“We have great relationships with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and a number of other museums,” says Litov. “We just spent two days in Texas at the Greatest Generation Aircraft Museum. We are all about connecting up with other museums.”

The ultimate goal is to have a physical location in a hangar at the old airport location. That will require a capital campaign to raise the necessary funding. The cost hasn’t yet been determined.

“We’re a fully established museum,” says Litov. “We just don’t have established hours or our hangar finalized yet. We need to get more publicity out there, showing that we are active.”

The museum is working to build its collection. It already has an engine and a canopy from P-47 Thunderbolt aircrafts. Also on display will be an operable World War II-era training aircraft, which will be on loan to the museum.

For more information on the Freedom Heritage Museum, visit

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