Robert “Boots” Ingram, founder of fifth-wheel manufacturer Teton Homes Inc., Mills, Wyo., and his wife Betty, have contributed $1 million to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc. to complete a wing of the new RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Ind., in which historian David Woodworth’s collection of antique RVs can be housed by next August.
Ingram already had donated $1 million to the foundation so it could buy the 1,800 items in Woodworth’s collection of RVs and antique camping equipment that will be displayed in the new 20,000-square-foot wing.
“Ground already has been broken and we want the wing open by the time of the grand opening of the hall and the museum,” said foundation spokesman Al Hesselbart.
Although a “soft opening” is expected by the end of November, the new facility’s formal opening is scheduled at next August’s Hall of Fame dinner.
The foundation next week (Oct. 30) will begin moving its own collection of historic RVs into the new museum and foundation headquarters adjacent to the Indiana Toll Road northeast of Elkhart. Office equipment and personnel will move two or three weeks later.
The foundation in June took possession of a 1931 Chevrolet custom-made housecar once owned by actress Mae West, the first of Woodworth’s collection that is to be displayed in the new museum. The balance of the collection is being stored in California until completion of the Elkhart facility.
Hesselbart said that the Indiana Department of Tourism has estimated that museum attendance – now about 10,000 people a year – should triple in the new facility due to its prominent location and promotional material the state intends to distribute.
The new RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum will house an interactive pavilion sponsored by the Go RVing Coalition, which also financed the purchase of a computer-controlled electronic sign visible from the Indiana Toll Road. A conference center and convention hall, as well as a section dedicated to manufactured homes, will be added within the next couple of years.