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Architectural Tour of Downtown District

Architectural Tour of Downtown District


1) The Old Library (1897)

312 East 8th Street

This is a neoclassical structure of Indiana limestone, with a columned portico, a marble interior, and 12-foot high stained glass windows depicting the Shakespearean figures Rosalind, Portia, and Ophelia. Funds to construct the library were donated by local citizens, responding to a $10,000 challenge grant from industrialist John H. Barker. The total cost was $30,000. The building was designed by Reed & Stem, a Minneapolis architectural firm, who also submitted the winning design for Grand Central Station in New York City. From 1978 to 2003, the building served as the city's arts center.

John G. Blank Center for the Arts

2) Haskell-Boyd House (1875)

701 Spring Street

This house was constructed for the Haskell family, partner in the Haskell-Barker Company, which manufactured railroad freight cars. The rear portion of the house has Michigan City's only remaining example of Second Empire style, typified by the dual-pitched hipped roof known as a "Mansard roof". The third story, gabled front, and porch were added in 1908 by the new owner, Alexander Boyd, president of Merchants National Bank.

Haskell-Boyd House

3) A. J. Henry House (1904)

700 Pine Street

The house of A. J. Henry, owner of a lumber company, is an outstanding example of Queen Anne-style architecture. It is an asymmetrical building with a corner turret, "witches' cap" roof, fish-scale shingles and a large front porch wrapping around the corner. There is a Palladian window in the front gable and, on the north side, a large stained glass window depicting a butterfly.

A. J. Henry House

4) Masonic Temple - PACT Building (1923)

132 East 6th Street

The Lafayette architectural firm Nicol, Sholer & Hoffman, designed the Masonic Temple in 1922. This restrained and symmetrical three-story structure, with its pilasters and rusticated ground floor, is characteristic of the Renaissance revival style popular in the period following World War I.

Masonic Temple

5) Trinity Episcopal Church (1889)

600 Franklin Street

This church is one of the few Romanesque revival structures in LaPorte County. Its heavy masonry interior, square corner tower and rounded "Roman" arches give an impression of solidity and permanence. It is a limestone structure, by an architect named Starbuck. Attached to the rear of this building at 117 West 6th Street, is the Gothic revival Barker Hall, built in 1930, replacing the original 1886 structure. Above the 6th Street entry is an Alfonso Ianelli relief sculpture.

Trinity Episcopal Church

6) Merchants National Bank (1926)

601 Franklin Street

The bank building is a well-preserved Neoclassical Beaux Arts structure with an exterior facing of glazed ceramic tile and arcades framing three stories of windows, separated by pilasters with Ionic capitals.

Merchants National Bank

7) BPOE Hall (1927)

520 Franklin Street

The unusual upper story of this building has an open-air rooftop with exposed rafters, reminiscent of grape arbors in Mediterranean villages. The Neoclassical façade has engaged fluted columns with Ionic capitals. The building was constructed for the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. It was later occupied by the Eagles, and is today an office building.

BPOE Hall

8) Historical Site (1833)

The corner of 5th and Franklin Streets is believed to be the location of Michigan City's first structure. A log cabin was built here by Joseph Furman and his nephew, Joseph Bryant, for Samuel Miller, a trader with the Indians, who became the city's first permanent resident. The site became known as "Peck's Corner," and the marker with bronze plaques was placed here when Citizens Bank was rebuilt in 1973.

Historical Site

9) Horizon Bank (1975)

500 Franklin Street

The oblique structure and glass walls of this modernist building provide a striking contrast to the 19th century structures. The architect was John Novack of the Chicago firm C. F. Murphy & Associates. The plaza design retained the Doric columns of the previous bank building.

Horizon Bank

10) Old Post Office (1910)

126 East 5th Street

James Knox Taylor, the architect for many Indiana post offices, designed this building. It is a colonial revival style, characterized by dormer windows, balustrade, keystones and corner quoins, and a red brick exterior with white trim. The stone garlands are a Beaux Arts feature. The building currently houses Alliance Banking Company.

Old Post Office

11) Birk-Detrich Building (1880)

411 Franklin Street

This is one of the few remaining buildings with a business on the first floor and a residence above. It is Italianate in style, with elaborate "eyebrows" over elongated windows. Originally the Abraham Birk Department Store, it was later a cigar store, then a billiard hall. In 1988, it was restored by Dick Detrich, architect and preservationist.

Birk-Detrich Building

12) Northern Indiana Education Foundation (1880)

402 Franklin Street

Today a medical educational facility, this building was for many years a Men's and Boy's clothing store. It was operated by Michael Kromshinski, a German-Polish immigrant. This large Italianate building has projecting eaves with supporting brackets and an angled façade, which nicely turns the corner.

Northern Indiana Education Foundation

13) Michigan City Public Library (1978)

100 East 4th Street

The provision of natural light was the guiding principle of the library's architect, Helmut Jahn of C. F. Murphy & Associates, Chicago. This was accomplished through a saw tooth roof, translucent fiberglass walls, and an open interior court. The diagonal placement of skylights is a feature repeated in other design elements. The "High Tech" building won an AIA First Honor award in 1978.

Michigan City Public Library

14) Haskell-Barker Car Shop Houses (1897)

228 and 232 West 4th Street

These modest frame houses were constructed for workmen at the Haskell-Barker factory. The style is described as "shotgun", with rooms so lined up that a shot aimed at the front door would go straight through the house and out the back door. The western-most building currently houses The Golden Leaf tobacco shop.

Haskell-Barker Car Shop Houses

15) First Congregational Church (1881)

Washington and 6th Streets

The steeply-pointed spire and pointed-arch windows are characteristics of the Gothic revival style used frequently in 19th century American churches. The structure is of Roeske brick.

Christopher Roeske, already a successful businessman since the opening of his Eureka Flouring Mill in 1880, began his brickyard a few years later. Located on the north side of Michigan City at Roeske Avenue, the brickyard produced 30,000 bricks a day at its peak. Many homes, businesses, and roads throughout the city were built of Roeske bricks.

The stained glass windows were replaced after a 1907 fire.

First Congretional Church

16) Barker Mansion (1859)

631 Washington Street

The mansion, built for the Barker family, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The original residence was enlarged to form this imposing Jacobean structure with stepped gables, finials, clustered chimney pots, and rows of casement windows. It was donated by the Barker family to the city, with guided tours offered regularly.

Barker Mansion

17) Italianate House (1875)

117 West 7th Street

Little is known about the origin of this structure. It is a gable-front Italianate style, of local Roeske brick.

Christopher Roeske, already a successful businessman since the opening of his Eureka Flouring Mill in 1880, began his brickyard a few years later. Located on the north side of Michigan City at Roeske Avenue, the brickyard produced 30,000 bricks a day at its peak. Many homes, businesses, and roads throughout the city were built of Roeske bricks.

Unusual features are the circular windows, side entry, and row of arched windows across the façade. The west addition was added later. In the 1920's, the Schoenemann family lived here, and later it became Miss Dobson's Tea Room. Today it houses Wall Construction.

Italianate House

18) Rogers House (1908)

707 Washington Street

Washington Street was a prestigious address for the business and industrial leaders of Michigan City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This Tudor revival, with vertical half-timbers and stucco, was built for George Peabody Rogers, who succeeded his father as treasurer of the Haskell-Barker Car Company. It later became a Fine Arts Academy; today it houses Merrion Realtors.

Rogers House

19) Gilmore House (1926)

801 Washington Street

Another Tudor revival, this house was built for Dr. Russell Gilmore and later used as medical offices. It is an asymmetrical building with the characteristic cross-gables, clusters of mullioned windows, and a half-timbered story above a masonry first floor.

Gilmore House

20) Ford House (1890)

831 Washington Street

This eclectic colonial revival house was built for J. S. Ford, president of Ford & Johnson Chair Company. This firm, manufacturer of Hitchcock chairs, was one of the successful enterprises resulting from the rich timberlands in Northern Indiana. The building has been converted into professional offices.

Ford House

21) Norton Barker House (1915)

901 Washington Street

This expanded version of an American Four-Square house was constructed for Norton Barker, grandson of John Barker, founder of the railroad car manufacturing company. Norton came to Michigan City to be with his uncle after his father drowned in a boating accident.

Norton Barker House

22) St. John School (1882)

110 West 9th Street

The original German Lutheran congregation in Michigan City established a church and this school in 1867 on the corner of 9th and Franklin streets. The school building is Italianate in style, with tall arched windows, a hipped roof with cupola, and projecting eaves with ornate brackets. The building currently houses a restaurant.

St. John School

23) St. Paul Lutheran Church (1876)

Franklin and 9th Streets

Controversies arose among members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Some members split off, purchased land diagonally across from St. John's and erected St. Paul Lutheran Church. It is a Gothic revival building, with a tall clock tower and corbelled brick detailing characteristic of brickwork done in Germany. The architect was John Renkawitz. Next door, at 818 Franklin, is the church rectory, built in 1882.

St. Paul Lutheran Church

24) Zorn House (1907)

225 East 9th Street

The simplicity and roominess of the American Four-Square made it enormously popular. The two-story house has a low-pitch hipped roof with central dormers, wide eaves, and a porch extending across the width of the façade. Variations of this design are located at 219 and 215 East 9th Street. The corner house was built for Robert Zorn, who ran the brewery established in 1871 by his father, Philip Zorn.

Zorn House

25) First Baptist Church (1914)

301 East 9th Street

Although organized early, in 1837, the Baptist congregation reorganized several times and did not have a permanent home for many years. This building is a Greek Revival structure with Doric columns supporting an entrance portico.

First Baptist Church

26) Servaas Award House (1895)

319 East 9th Street

In 1995, this house won the Servaas Award, given annually by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana to an outstanding preservation project. Carpentry students from Elston High School did most of the work, under the direction of teacher Lynn Steinheiser. It is a frame house in free-classic style, with a gabled front and simple columns across the front porch. The original owner was the William Marshall family.

Servaas Award House

27) Vielhack House (1866)

402 East 8th Street

This is the oldest house still remaining in the Historic Downtown District. It is Italianate in style, with tall, narrow windows and projecting eaves with ornate brackets. This brick house was built for Frederick Vielhack, founder of Feallock Shoe Store (1855), which was operated by his family for 52 years. The front porch was added in 1935.

Vielhack House