2008 Hoosier Heritage Pilgrimage:
"A Day in Historic
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, Indiana
Twenty-nine Pioneers and their guests enjoyed
a fascinating and delightful day visiting historic sites in Tippecanoe
County on Thursday, May 15. The first stop on the itinerary was truly
unforgettable: the historic Haan Mansion in Lafayette – a massive,
Colonial Revival home that, in addition to having an unusual past, currently
houses what’s generally considered to be the best collection anywhere
in the world of artwork by the illustrious Hoosier Group of painters.
The Pioneers entering the historic Haan Mansion.
Bill Haan (at far right) escorting Pioneers
mansion and describing the Hoosier artwork.
Once known as the Potter Mansion, the house
was built for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. A wealthy Lafayette
resident, William Potter, attended the World’s Fair, bought the
mansion as a gift for his wife, and had it dissembled, shipped to Lafayette
by rail, and reassembled at 920 State Street. The current owners, Bob
and Ellie Haan, have decorated it with an outstanding array of Renaissance
Revival furnishings. The Haans had the Pioneers as guests in the mansion,
which has a Great Hall, a Tiffany hanging wall clock, an 1878 pool table,
a double staircase, and a seven-foot vase that won first prize at the
1904 World’s Fair as well as a chandelier from the fair.
A stunning Wooten Cabinet secretary that’s among
A corner of the Grand Hall of the Haan Mansion,
also features a collection of Western American artwork.
Above all else, though, the Haan Mansion is
distinctive for the Haans’ vast collection of paintings by the
Hoosier Group (which included T.C. Steele, J. Ottis Adams, Otto Stark,
William Forsyth and Richard Gruelle) and other Indiana artists. Near
the entryway is an 1893 paining by Steele of his daughter, Daisy, that
fetched a record price at an auction when the Haans acquired it a few
years ago. Indiana artwork adorns every room in the mansion, which is
featured in the 99 Historic Homes book published
by Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.
The second floor of the mansion, where paintings adorn
The Pioneers divided into two groups to enjoy
the house, with Mr. Haan escorting one group and Mrs. Haan taking the
second. Both groups spent nearly two hours in the mansion, which is
so stunning that even more time could be allotted to appreciate the
furnishings that also include a Wooten Cabinet secretary.
After leaving the Haan Mansion, the Pioneers
enjoyed a luncheon at the elegant Bistro 501 restaurant in downtown
Lafayette. That was followed by a driving tour, with a local step-on
guide, of historic sites in Lafayette (including the Tippecanoe County
Courthouse) and the Purdue University campus.
The next stop was the Long Center Theatre, a
restored vaudeville palace built in 1921. Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Ethel
Merman and the Marx Brothers performed at the vaudeville house, which
eventually became a move theater known as the Mars Theater, then struggled
during the 1970s. Thanks to a $2 million restoration in 1999, the Long
has been revived as a performing arts center and today is the home of
the Lafayette orchestra. A local theater historian took the stage to
share the ups and downs of the Long with the Pioneers, who then toured
backstage areas and marveled at the theater’s organ.
The Pioneers at the historic Long Centre Theatre,
listening as a local historian
on the stage discusses the restoration
of the former vaudeville house built in 1921.
From the Long, the Pioneers traveled to the
seven-acre grounds of the Indiana Veterans’ Home (built for Hoosiers
who fought in the Civil War) and related sites. The first
stop was a bed-and-breakfast that was a spacious, Greek
Revival home built in 1895 for the Commandant of the
The current owners, a married couple with young children,
escorted the Pioneers through their historic B & B .
Pioneers touring the spacious home built in 1895 for the
Commandant of the
Indiana Veterans’ Home, a long-term care facility
initially designed for
veterans of the Civil War. The
home today is a bed and breakfast.
That was followed by a tour of the Veterans’ Home,
which includes a library that’s said to have the largest collection
of paintings of Civil War generals. (The artwork was created in the
early 1900s by a painter who resided at the Veterans Home, a long-term
care facility which today serves veterans of all wars.)
On the return trip to Indianapolis, the Pioneers
enjoyed a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception aboard the motorcoach.
- Text and Photos by Nelson Price