Our History



The Kendallville Historical Association, Inc. was initially formed to give a formal repository for the research archives of the late Russell Frehse, Kendallville’s unofficial historian – a collection that grew as a result of a 30+ year passion with the city’s history.

The year was 2003 and Russell Frehse was, in his own words, “getting old.” Russell was 93 years old and he was discussing his plans to dispose of his properties with his friend and neighbor, David Christianson; with plans to then move into an assisted living facility. They both agreed that his archives would have the greatest value as a collection housed with some sort of public entity such as the public library or the City of Kendallville; or perhaps some other organization that could preserve, protect and make them accessible to future researchers.

On October 29, 2003, the Downtown area of Kendallville, Indiana, was entered into the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures and then on December 23, 2003, it was declared an Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places.

During the research needed for this historical designation, participants recognized the need to preserve the various artifacts and memorabilia that might be coming to light as a result of this designation. Ray Scott, through his affiliation with the Kendallville Chamber of Commerce, lobbied the Chamber for support of an historical society to preserve the unique heritage of the Kendallville. On May 18, 2004, the Chamber authorized a Task Force headed by Ray, to study such a proposal. On July 20th an Historical Committee was formed with Ray Scott as Chairman, and members Russell Frehse, David Christianson, Scott Frick, Luanne Coda, Tom Leedy, Bob Pruitt, Hertha Meyer, Terry Householder, Bob Gagen and Sarah Thomas. They had their first meeting on November 8, 2004.

On January 13, 2005, the Committee met with the specific goals of creating a mission statement, choosing a name for the society, organizing the society into a 501(c)3 corporation, joining the Indiana and the Noble County Historical Associations, acquiring local collections of historic items, securing a safe and dry space for storage and planning a community celebration to introduce the new historical society to the community. At the conclusion of the meeting a mission statement had been drafted, a name had been chosen and, shortly afterwards the Chamber offered the use of their second floor storage area.

Sadly, Russell Frehse, the impetus behind the formation of this society, died on February 11, 2005; and his large collection passed, effortlessly, into the newly emerging Kendallville Historical Association, Inc., where it forms the core collection from which we hope to build.

The rest of the year was spent completing the paper work necessary for incorporation and for recognition by the Internal Revenue Service. Hertha Meyer led the way through the paperwork and expertly guided the committee members through each step of the process.

On April 25, 2005, the Committee ceased to exist and the new Kendallville Heritage Association, Inc., selected its interim Board of Directors (consisting of the original committee members) and elected their interim officers:
Ray Scott, President
Luann Coda, Vice President
David Christianson, Secretary/Treasurer
to serve until November when its is hoped the Association will have a membership that can elect its own Board.

An anonymous donor gave $1000.00 to help get the Association off the ground.

On June 29, 2005, incorporation papers were accepted by the Secretary of State and work is almost complete on gaining IRS recognition. The Kendallville Heritage Association has joined the Noble County Historical Society and a public event is planned for January 31, 2006

David Christianson, Secretary, 16 January 2006