KEARNEY, Neb.- On the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, you will find the Frank Museum. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum was once the home of George and Phoebe Frank, and it was built in 1889 and 1890. They were land speculators, and wealthy individuals. But in the "Panic of 1893" they lost their financial standing, and lost the home. "When they lost the home, it later became a private sanitarium, and then eventually in 1912, it opened up as the Nebraska State Hospital for Tuberculosis," Frank Museum Director William Stoutamire said. "For more than 60 years, the building was integral to the state tuberculosis hospital," Stoutamire said.
Patients only lived in the home for a brief while in 1912. They primarily lived on the third floor. As the hospital expanded, the patients moved out, and the Frank House became more of a residence for the superintendent of the tuberculosis hospital, as well as a residence for upper level staff. In the 1970's, the hospital had very few patients, and the hospital was then transferred to Kearney State College, which is now UNK.
"For a while the college talked about tearing this building down," Stoutamire said. "But ultimately they concluded that it should be turned into a historic house museum." Stoutamire says what he and others connected to the museum are trying to do now is make the museum more modern, and more of a community history museum. "We have now restored most of the building to the way it looked in the 1890's or as part of the TB hospital, so as you come through the museum you transition through history, and we are putting in exhibits and interpretation that tell a more comprehensive story about the home," Stoutamire said.
An open house is planned for Saturday, April 14th from 1 to 4 p.m. to show off the new exhibits and offer museum tours. For more information go to frankmuseum.unk.edu.