By Tom Interval
The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada, was a public museum and tourist attraction devoted to the legendary magician and self-liberator Harry Houdini (1874-1926).
Opened in May 1968 at 5019 Centre Street, the museum housed many significant items from Houdini’s personal collection, including a multitude of handcuffs and leg irons, a wooden packing crate he used for underwater escapes, and the famed Water Torture Cell.
Four years after opening, the Hall of Fame moved a half block southeast to 4983 Clifton Hill, into the old Victoria Park Railway Station, where it remained until it burned down 23 years later, on April 30, 1995.
While some of the collection, including the Water Torture Cell, was destroyed in the fire, a lot of the paraphernalia survived and exists in many private collections, including that of illusionist David Copperfield.
If Houdini knew any of his magical equipment survived, he would probably be infuriated. Why? Because he clearly stated in his will that all of his paraphernalia, bequeathed to his brother Theodore Hardeen, should be “burnt and destroyed” upon Hardeen’s death.
Of course, many people have fun speculating that the spirit of Houdini himself caused the 1995 fire. But in the true spirit of critical thinking, which Houdini used in the latter part of his career to expose fraudulent mediums, let’s assume the fire was an unfortunate coincidence.
To learn more about the Hall of Fame and to see related photos, brochures, a souvenir booklet, and more, please check out the new Facebook page devoted just to the museum. While there, be sure to click on the Albums section to see photographs organized by subject.