You may think you’ve learned all you can about Indiana in history class in high school, but there are hundreds of historic sites around the state that are always teaching Hoosiers new things about Indiana’s past. If you’re not sure where to begin with digging up some of the keys to Indiana’s past, start with these 11 historic hidden gems.
1. Camp Atterbury POW Chapel - Franklin
In Franklin, Indiana is a modest little POW chapel that has a bit of history tied to it. This chapel was constructed in 1943 at Camp Atterbury. This area was used as an internment camp between 1943 and 1946 and held approximately 15,000 POWs, mostly Italian and German soldiers. This chapel was built by Italian POWs, using leftover stucco and brick for the exterior and berries, flowers, and other natural elements to paint frescos. The building has since been restored and can be explored as a piece of the history of POWs in Indiana.
2. Civil Rights Heritage Center - South Bend
The Civil Rights Heritage Center is a prominent building in supporting the study and documentation of civil rights for the public and University of South Bend students. This building, however, has a fascinating history. It used to be a Natatorium whose swimming pool was limited to whites. However, blacks were soon granted partial access, and finally full access was granted in 1950. The pool remained open for another 28 years.
3. Gannett Records Walk of Fame - Richmond
The Gennett Walk of Fame opened in 2007, to honor the historic Gannet Records. Gannett Records first opened in Richmond, Indiana in the early 1900s as a jazz label. Some famous talent on this label include Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Jaybird Coleman, and Zack White. This awesome Walk of Fame has record art featuring some of the label's most prominent talent. Music lovers have to check out this historic site.
4. Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church - Brookville
This small church was first put together in 1797 by the first settlers of what is now Franklin County, Indiana. The building itself was built in 1812 and still stands on the original foundation.
5. Madison Railroad Station Museum - Madison
This train station museum once served as a train depot for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The building was built in 1895 and was operated out of until 1931.
6. Benjamin Harrison Home - Indianapolis
Located on the old Northside, this famous house now operates as a museum for the twenty third president of the United States. This home was built in the late 1800s by architect Herman Brandt. Ten of the sixteen rooms in the house can be explored by the public.
7. Pyramid Mound - Vincennes
If you've never heard of Pyramid Mound before, it's a pretty prominent archaeological site that used to be an Indianan cemetery. This site is located in the center of the park in Knox County.
8. Cairo Skywatch Tower - Cairo
This intriguing Skywatch Tower was commissioned by the United States Air Force on 1952 during the Korean War. Volunteers would take turns keeping watch in this observation tower for enemy planes before there was a national radar system.
9. Immanuel Lutheran Church - Valparaiso
Also referred to as the Heritage Lutheran Church, this structure was built by J.M.F. Riedel, an architect from Ft. Wayne. This historical gem represents a stunning example of Victorian Gothic style.
10. Gene Stratton-Porter Cabin - Rome City
This stunning cabin, also referred to as the Cabin at Wildflower Woods, was built in 1914. The cabin was owned by Gene Stratton-Porter, inspired by a fictional cabin from her writing. Now, the first floor of this cabin acts as a museum, with Stratton-Porter's art and designs on display.
11. Paramount Theater - Anderson
Formerly part of the Publix Theaters chain, this grand building was built to give the appearance of having an open starry sky. This style of theater is referred to as atmospheric, and this building is one of 12 atmospheric theaters remaining within the U.S.
Have you ever heard of any of these historic gems in Indiana? Perhaps visited one or two? Let us know what your favorites are!