Nelson Algren museum coming to Gary's Miller neighborhood

Author Nelson Algren stands outside his Miller Beach cottage.

The famed Chicago writer Nelson Algren, who won the National Book Award for his classic “The Man with the Golden Arm,” is getting a museum in Gary’s Miller Beach neighborhood.

Miller already has a pocket park on Lake Street and an annual summer festival dedicated to Algren, who had a beach cottage and a famous dalliance with the French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir there.

The Nelson Algren Society of Miller Beach is going to build a museum in the lower level of the 1928 Illinois Bell Telephone Building, which was once owned by Algren friend Dave Peltz. Indiana Landmarks operates its Northwest Indiana field office in that building on the Lake Street commercial corridor.

Algren’s desk, chair and typewriter will be in display in the museum.

“This desk is the heaviest desk known to man. How Algren got it to the second floor apartment on Wabansia and then to the third floor of the Evergreen flat, I cannot imagine,” Nelson Algren Society of Miller Beach founders Sue Rutsen and George Rogge said in an email to members. “Moving it into the museum, a mere three steps down, was a huge challenge. Luckily we had the help of two denizens of our local drinking establishment Thumbs Up, who were happy to help us out for some mad money.”

The nonprofit is seeking donations of any Algren-related items, such as a pool table rumored to be owned by him.

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“While I hope he didn’t have a piano, we are happy to follow up on all offers,” they wrote.

Algren is one of Chicago’s most celebrated authors, best known for work championed in the down-and-out like “Chicago: A City on the Make” and “A Walk on the Wild Side.”

Plans call for opening the Algren museum in Miller at 3 p.m. on March 26, 2017 to celebrate what would have been Algren’s 108th birthday.

Mary Wisniewski, author of the recently published “Algren, A Life,” and Algren scholar Richard Bales will speak at the dedication.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.