The Lightner Museum, Main Facade, photograph by Tom Schifanella

From Hotel to Museum: The Alcazar and the Lightner Museum of Hobbies

“There is demand for a museum of this type. Here the collection that afforded its owner so much pleasure, that made them an authority on the subject, that inspired many others with the same hobby, that was the fruit of long hours of labor, can find its last resting place.”

Otto Lightner, Hobbies—The Magazine for Collectors, August 1947

The Hotel Alcazar closed permanently after the winter season of 1931. The shuttered building was ultimately purchased by Midwestern magazine publisher and collector, Otto C. Lightner (1887-1950).

Born in Norwich, Kansas, Lightner was a major advocate for hobbies in the United States through his publication, Hobbies—The Magazine for Collectors. In 1934, Lightner opened a unique museum in Chicago dedicated to hobbies and collecting. The museum primarily featured artwork and furnishings purchased by Lightner from Chicago’s grandest Gilded Age mansions during the Great Depression, but he also encouraged hobbyists to donate their collections for display.

Following a stay in Florida at the Hotel Ponce de Leon in 1946, Lightner purchased the former Hotel Alcazar to serve as the permanent home for his eclectic collection. The new Lightner Museum of Hobbies opened to the public in 1948.

Otto Lightner at the Lightner Museum of Hobbies, Chicago, IL, c.1940s

Hobbies - The Magazine for Collectors, August 1947

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