History of Science Central
On August 29, 1908, the city of Fort Wayne opened its first publicly-run electric utility, called City Light & Power, on the location where Science Central now stands. With two 500 Kilowatt coal-powered steam generators and three boilers, the plant provided electricity to 420 arc-streetlights, schools, and government buildings. As demand for electricity grew, capacity at the plant was expanded and the city began to provide power for commercial applications and residential homes.
In 1929, a major expansion project was started that would eventually replace the original 1908 power plant. When construction of phase one was finally completed in 1934, the building’s two new generators and three boilers produced a total of 22,500 Kilowatts of electricity. With time, the power plant underwent several more phases of expansion and grew to serve about 33,000 customers within the city limits. At its peak, during the 1950’s, City Light & Power’s four generators and five 60’ tall boilers produced a total of 47,500 Kilowatts of electricity. On February 28, 1975, the City Light & Power plant produced its last electricity and on March 1st of the same year, it was leased to competitor I&M who had grown from Fort Wayne’s first power company; Jenney Electric Light & Power Co. For sixteen years, the old City Light & Power plant sat empty, slowly falling into disrepair.
In November 1991, I&M, along with many other donors, began a $9.2 million renovation that included removing excess equipment, replacing windows, and preparing the building’s structure for use by the public as a science museum.
Science Central History
Science Central was originally incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1987 by a group of teachers, parents, engineers, and community/business leaders who wanted to see the creation of a local science discovery center. While working towards that goal, the group also set about developing hands-on
science programs for use in schools, camps, and public settings. In June of 1989, Science Central sponsored the animatronic “Dinosaurs Alive” exhibit at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and by its fifth year, over 130 schools and some 30,000 participants had taken part in the organization’s popular Teach Reach program.
During this time, Science Central, originally known as the Science Collective of Northeast Indiana, Inc., grew to include more than 200 volunteers. On November 5, 1995, this dedicated group’s dream became reality and Science Central opened its doors to the public for the first time. On that day, Science Central also became Indiana’s first hands-on science center.
Today, Science Central is an exciting mix of inspiring and fun hands-on learning and engaging fun! Each year through attendance, programming, and outreach we impact over 140,000 individuals and have served over 2.6 million people since opening!
Video courtesy of Andrew Knoblauch