Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 2012
“Year of the Opera Curtain” at the Center for History
By Mary Chrastil, President
When the North Manchester Center for History decided to explore whether we could
restore a rare c. 1910 opera curtain in its collection, little did we suspect
that the project would turn into a year-long celebration involving lectures,
programs, community groups and commissioning an original artwork.
We are grateful for the many groups, businesses and organizations that
made the “Year of the Opera Curtain” possible.
Special thank-yous go to major sponsors Beacon Credit Union, Manchester
University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet, as well as JP and Michelle
Freeman and the Community Foundation of Wabash County.
Restoring the 1910 Curtain.
The curtain in question was given to the NM Historical Society in 1985 by J. P.
Freeman and his mother Minnie Freeman.
It was found in the attic of their business, the Main View Tavern, and
featured advertising from businesses active in North Manchester around 1910.
It is large – approximately 16 feet by 13 feet.
Some areas of the curtain were severely damaged.
As we contacted professional conservators in the state, we found that
opera curtains such as ours are quite rare.
They did not survive fires, being rolled up, and being subject to mold
and mildew. There are only two
opera curtains that we know of in Indiana.
Curtains often depict a romantic landscape; those with advertising on
them are even rarer.
Conservator Jennifer Hein of Indianapolis was hired for the project.
We arranged for her to pick up the curtain and do a preliminary
assessment. Remember when the
Smithsonian restored the Star Spangled Banner originally created in 1813?
The public was able to watch the painstaking process.
We wanted to allow community members to see and understand our project,
which is similar. For two days, we
invited the public, as well as college and high school art and history classes,
to see the curtain and hear the conservator talk about how she planned to
approach the project. Ms. Hein has
extensive experience in textile restoration, and she provided a wealth of
information about dyes, fabrics, cleaning procedures and solvents.
At this time we asked that the curtain not only be stabilized, but that
it be brought back to its original “look” to the extent possible.
This decision was made because, while the curtain might be less valuable
because the provenance was altered, we felt it was of primary value mainly to
North Manchester and the restoration would be more appropriate for us than a
The final results were spectacular.
The restored curtain was unveiled in April and now hangs at the Center for
History. By the way, as rare as
this curtain is, we have a second opera curtain from the same era in our
Programs Inspired by the Restoration.
Restoring the 1910 opera curtain lent itself to a number of interesting
programs. Two of our monthly dinner
programs were dedicated to the opera curtain project.
In March, conservator Jennifer Hein explained the conservation process
for our curtain. In April,
Manchester College professor Katherine Tinsley presented a program on the
importance of opera houses in small towns in America.
She used research provided (thank you, Allan White) about actual programs
and events held in our opera house, and broadened the context to include the
general experience in America.
On May 13, we unveiled the restored curtain.
Manchester College opera workshop students under the supervision of Dr.
Debra Lynn presented a one-act comic opera in English to the guests who came for
the unveiling. On June 6, we
unveiled the contemporary opera curtain we commissioned
and held a thank you reception for the businesses that supported the
project and the Manchester High School students who produced the contemporary
curtain. A short program compared
the businesses on the 1910 curtain to their equivalents in 2012.
The February issue of this newsletter included a reprinted interview with local
historian Dr. L. Z Bunker from 1982 concerning the opera house and its curtain.
The rest of the issue was dedicated to excerpts from the North
Manchester Journal of October 15, 1885, which described a devastating
fire that destroyed the opera house and several other downtown businesses.
The opera house was rebuilt and opened the next year.
Contemporary Opera Curtain Commissioned.
As we restored the curtain, we realized that it had originally served as
an advertising piece, but now, 100 years later, it serves more as an historic
record of the businesses that were active in North Manchester at the time.
None are operating today, but the curtain provides a unique record of the
products and services that defined the town long ago.
We decided to commission a contemporary opera curtain and invite current
businesses and organizations to be part of it.
The NMHS provided the materials and approached businesses for sponsorship
and advertising. We pointed out
that the contemporary curtain will hang for many years in the Center for
History, next to the restored curtain.
It will document current businesses and organizations 100 years from now,
just as the 1910 curtain does.
We approached local businesses which had a business or function similar to the
ones on the 1910 curtain. Major
sponsors for the “Year of the Opera Curtain” Beacon Credit Union, Manchester
University, Poet Biorefining and Shepherd Chevrolet are featured prominently on
the contemporary curtain. Also
appearing are the Fine Arts Club, Peabody Retirement Community, Timbercrest
Senior Living Community, McKee Mortuary, Harting Furniture, and Riverbridge
Electric. Rounding out the
advertisers are KenapocoMocha Coffee House, Fahs Brown Plumbing (representing
the Manchester Early Learning Center on the curtain), First Financial Bank,
Newmarket, Creative Stitch Quilt Shop, One World Handcrafts, the Main View
Restaurant and the Firehouse Theater.
Debra Kern, art teacher at Manchester High School, agreed to take on the
project. The curtain is big and
heavy, a canvas square 14 feet by 14 feet, which made it a challenge to design
and paint. The colorful curtain
reflects the modern use of logos and brighter colors, while still retaining the
feel of the 1910 curtain. Logos
were projected on the curtain and transferred and painted by students.
The central medallion shows a scene of early 20th century
people arriving at the opera house, with a casually dressed contemporary couple
just outside the frame, watching the action but “with their feet in the future.”
Students who helped paint the curtain are Katie Durden, Hannah Lochner, Tawni
Kincaid, Paige Blocher, Krisy Mize, Evan Wilcox, Treya Paquera, Katie Floor,
Madison Isbell, Brittani Weimann, Marret Metzger, Bradley Miller, Mariah Mobley,
Claire McLaughlin, Mick Avery, D.J. Norwood, Allissa Isley, Myra Long and
The Firehouse Follies.
On June 17, the NMHS and the Firehouse Theater presented the Firehouse
Follies. The NMHS approached this
civic theater group about presenting a review of local talent performing acts
that are similar to those that once appeared at the North Manchester Opera
House. The contemporary opera
curtain served as a backdrop in the performance space. The Firehouse Theater
folks invited community members to perform in the spirit of 1910.
Allan White provided extensive information about opera house events based on the
local newspapers of the era. For
example, a Mandolin Chorus met at the Opera House once; we had a ukulele chorus.
We know that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a very popular touring play
that performed several times at the Opera House.
These troupes had elaborate scenery and even brought in live bloodhounds
to help chase the character Eliza when she tries to escape.
Our offering was to have a dog act—four service dogs performed simple
tricks and stole the hearts of the audience.
David Lawrenz served as emcee, introducing the acts and providing jokes and
information to keep the show moving.
He worked in information about how important the opera houses were before
the days of telephone, radio, movies, television or the internet.
The opera house was the biggest room in town, and provided a space for
entertainment, educational lectures, graduation ceremonies, and even roller
skating and basketball games.
The evening started with an hour-long concert by the Manchester Community Band.
Jim Smith followed with a stirring rendition of Casey at the Bat,
followed by the Canine Companion Tricksters:
Annabelle the Scottish Terrier under the command of Marilyn Mason, Dkyler
the Boarder Collie with Deana Davis, Breeze the Labradoodle with Susan Sharp and
Chloe the French Bulldog with Debbie Bryant.
David Moan performed songs from the Civil War, Marching through
Georgia and Just Before the Battle, Mother, followed by Toby Tobias
as Victorian wrestler Ed “Strangler” Lewis (you had to see it to believe it).
The Kruschwitz Ukulele Choir performed several numbers, highlighted by
LuAnn Harley leading the audience in a simple hula to Aloha Oe’.
After a brief intermission, the Eel River Choral Society sang My Life Flows
on in Endless Song and A Wonderful Savior is Jesus.
Local storyteller Mac McKinley read two James Whitcomb Riley poems (Riley
appeared at the NM Opera House several times), followed by fiddle tunes from the
Fiddling Kruschwitzes, Brian and sons Harley and Owen.
The evening closed with the performance of an original melodrama written for the
NMHS by Charles and Dagny Boebel, Dolly’s Dilemma, or Who Will Pay the Money
for the Mortgage on the Farm?
Sarah Hawkins Moan, David Moan and Andrew Chinworth played the sobbing heroine,
dastardly villain and hero (in all white costume) in this drama with
contemporary twists. Kathy Hawkins
cued the audience to participate with posters urging them to boo, hiss, cheer
A wonderful time was had by all.
Audience members asked if we could do this again next year! Please watch the
newspaper for more programs this fall that are associated with the NMHS Year of
the Opera Curtain.
This year the Center for History has continued to take advantage of a
wonderful program offered by the Indiana Historical Society, traveling
historical exhibits. In May and
June, 2012, we hosted Who Do You Think You Are? an excellent exhibit on
immigration in Indiana. The North
Manchester area is fairly homogeneous in the origins of its population, but
Indiana as a whole has a very diverse population.
The exhibit was accompanied by photos, documents and maps outlining this
During the late summer, coinciding with FunFest, we are presenting Indiana
Cartoons and Cartoonists, a subject that should be appealing to all ages.
It is available for viewing July 31 through September 4.
Our final traveling exhibit of the year is October 11 through November
14. Endangered Heritage is
an unusual exhibit because its display will be scattered throughout the Center
for History. The exhibit highlights
challenges faced by museums about how to preserve for future generations the
objects and documents that are part of our heritage.
The common dangers to collected materials are critical issues right here,
right now. Examples from our own
holdings will complement the exhibit.
Last year the Center for History brought to North Manchester exhibits on The
Care and Identification of Family Photographs, Indiana Through the
Map-Maker’s Eyes and a collection of World War II photographs, enhanced by
NMCH window displays saluting local veterans.
In the past we have also hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and
on The Auto in Indiana. Next
year watch for exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War as we commemorate the 150th anniversary
of that conflict.
The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display exhibits on topics of
interest in Indiana History. Their
list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices which can be booked for
approximately one month. Three
exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the Center for History is
scheduling the maximum. We would
like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place where these
excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular basis.
You don’t have to travel to Indianapolis to see them.
Center for History Awarded National CAP Grant.
This winter, the North Manchester Historical Society applied for and
received a national grant that will provide us with a wealth of information
about how to better care for the artifacts entrusted to us, and how to utilize
our building better. The
Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) Grant is a competitive program that is run
by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Heritage
Preservation, The National Institute for Conservation.
Heritage Preservation will provide funds to bring professional conservation and
building preservation specialists to the Center for History, who will identify
the conservation needs of our collection and buildings and recommend ways to
correctly improve collection and building conditions.
Their report will help us evaluate our current collections care policies,
procedures and environmental conditions.
It will help us make immediate, mid-range and long-range plans for
improvement. Some granting agencies
require a CAP assessment before an organization can be considered for funding.
The reports findings will be suggestions for planning purposes, and will
not be requirements.
We are thrilled that our conservation assessor will be Ramona Duncan-Huse,
Senior Director of Conservation and Preservation Imaging for the Indiana
Historical Society, and our building assessor will be Mary Ellen Rudisel-Jordan,
Warsaw architect with the firm Scearce-Rudisel.
Both have considerable CAP assessment experience and extensive experience
in historic preservation issues.
The assessments will take place in October, with a final report early next year.
Since 1990, 2,700 museums have participated in CAP, including museums in all 50
states. In 2012, the Center for
History is one of two organizations in Indiana receiving CAP grants.
More News from the Center
Submitted August 2012 by Nancy Reed, Director of the Center for History:
While the Center was closed over the winter months, we set up a permanent
office downstairs so that the CFH could be open more.
With the addition of two desks, a computer, printer and high-speed
internet, at the front door, we are now able to be open Monday through Friday
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
We increased our open hours from 8 per week to 33 per week, an increase
of over 400%. Now that docents have
computer and internet access, including access to our museum records, they can
help with a variety of projects that help the Center for History manage its
collection better. The response
from visitors has been phenomenal.
Our American Gift Shoppe has grown.
We now have a larger dedicated space at the front of the Center for
History with new items for sale.
Many more historic books are available including Gladys Airgood’s popular book
of Servia’s history. New items include a model DeWitt automobile (just $15), and
wooden toys crafted locally at Silver Lake, Indiana, and reminiscent of the toys
from yesterday. A variety of new
postcards are available, sold only at this museum gift shop.
Most of the souvenirs with which you have become familiar, are still
available. Our past Newsletters
are also on display for sale.
There is a fee to tour the Center for History at $3.00 per person (free for NMHS
members) since we believe that we have a quality product to show you which is
ever changing, and we need to try to cover some of our expenses.
However, visiting the Americana Shoppe is free, so stop by anytime to
find that special gift you might like to give to your visitors, past N.
Manchester alumni, or for weddings, at Christmas time, etc.
Christmas Windows and Cookie
Plans are under way to make this holiday season special on Main Street.
Your local merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and N. Manchester Main
Street are already hard at work planning our holiday activities for your
The North Manchester Historical Society and Center for History have a new
plan for making our windows look just right for the Christmas season.
And instead of holding our annual bake sale during Fun Fest, we are
switching things just a bit and plan to hold a cookie exchange and bake sale
some time around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Plan to participate in the cookie exchange to increase the variety of
sweets to offer your holiday guests.
We look forward to offering an annual antiques appraisal here at the Center for
History. Professional appraisers
are now being contacted so that arrangements can be finalized for this program
to be held during the Harvest Festival.
If this is something you might be interested in attending, please give us
some feedback. Suggestions for
appraisers are also welcome.
The month of April was National Volunteer Recognition month and the
Center for History was delighted to honor volunteers of 2010 and 2011.
Sixty volunteers were invited to a beautiful reception in their honor to
thank them for the over 7,637 volunteer hours they gave us in 2010 and 2011.
This year we recognized service to both the N. Manchester Center for
History and the Historical Society in general.
Individuals with more than 100 hours accumulated were given monogrammed
polo shirts with the Center for History logo in appreciation for their
dedication and service. The NMHS
also recognized Volunteers of the Year 2010—JoAnn Schall and John & Bea Knarr,
and—for 2011 Volunteer of the Year, Ralph Naragon.
We wish to thank the reception committee, Darlene Bucher, Eloise Eberly,
Jeanette Lahman and Dorothy Weldy, for their help in making the evening
especially lovely and tasty.
We at the Center are especially proud of the fine work all of our volunteers do.
If you think you’d like to become a volunteer, please contact us immediately.
We welcome and need more people to become involved.
You don’t need to know anything about N. Manchester’s history in order to
be helpful to us. Call today!
Peabody Mansion DVD Available.
A film titled “Journey’s End:
The Building of the Peabody Mansion” has just been released by the N.
Manchester Historical Society and is sold only in our gift shop.
This film was shot in the 1930’s by Tom Peabody himself, as the home we
fondly call the Peabody Mansion was being built.
This 60 minutes movie shows the craftsmen of that time period doing what
they were so skilled at.
While Mr. Peabody was initially concerned about going ahead with the building of
his home during the Depression era, townspeople urged him to proceed because it
would provide jobs for local tradesmen.
You won’t want to miss seeing the framers, brick layers, road paving
machines, landscapers, and many more as they helped to build this outstanding
The cost of this DVD is $15 and may be ordered by calling 260-982-0672, by
emailing us at email@example.com , or by stopping by the Center for
History at 124 E. Main Street during office hours.
NOTE: Another DVD, “See Yourself in
the Movies”, made in 1938 of the entire town and its citizens, is also for sale
at the same price.
Oppenheim Exhibit at Center for History
By Mary Chrastil, President
Submitted August 2011
exhibition on the Oppenheim family and store opened at the Center
for History on August 12 as part of the Center’s Fun Fest offerings.
The Oppenheim Legacy:
A Perfect Fit for North Manchester for 125 Years is based
on over 600 artifacts and photographs provided in 2010 by Rick
Eisenstein, nephew of Phil and Pat Oppenheim, the last owners of the
Oppenheim Department Store in North Manchester.
When the store closed in 2000, it was the oldest family-owned
department store in Indiana.
For the exhibit, additional items were added from the North
Manchester Historical Society collection.
this exhibit was a growth experience for the Center for History
staff and other volunteers.
We tried to do more than just put stuff on display, but
instead to tell the story of this influential family and their long
time involvement in the community.
Scores of photographs were mounted and hung; hundreds of
labels were researched, prepared and placed.
“Infrastructure” items like display cubicles and screens were
items were cleaned and attractively arranged, and over two dozen
narratives were researched and written.
The following narrative gives a sampling of the variety and
amount of work that went into this exhibit.
section of the exhibit presents the Oppenheim Store and its
employees, including photographs of the various times the store was
remodeled over its lifetime.
This part also includes photos of a 1905 baby contest, and
ladies lined up around the block waiting to purchase nylon stockings
after World War II shortages ended.
Biographies of the owners Jacob, Ben, Isaac, Jean, Phil and
Pat Oppenheim are incorporated, as well as artifacts from the store
when it closed.
section displays family artifacts and photographs, including
children’s furniture, clothing and toys, dining room settings and
linens, travel trunks and clothing, family entertainment, and family
community service, including military service.
On view are items from Phil’s run for Congress in 1978
(including radio campaign jingles you can play!) and photographs of
the various homes where the family lived in North Manchester,
courtesy of Dave Randall and Werking Studios and Kyle and Stacy
the exhibit are narratives about the family and their interests and
community involvement, as well as reminiscences about working and
shopping at Oppenheims.
from the Community Foundation of Wabash County enabled us to build
large display cubicles that created “rooms” within the larger
exhibit space. The
cubicles can be moved and used for future exhibits, for example
building a display “room” within one of the larger Center for
History exhibition areas.
Jim Garman, Owen Sommers, and Richard and Althea Miller
designed, built and painted the cubicles.
Assistance from Terri Michaelis and the Eel River Watershed
Project helped us produce the oversize photo prints that add so much
to the exhibit. Carole
Miller-Patrick helped pick the items to be displayed, and plan and
construct the display areas.
exhibit previously in the display area was moved and remounted by
Chaz Bellman, Alex Day, Dalton Day, Hannah Thomas and Sabine Thomas.
Hannah and Sabine also painted display walls and researched
and produced exhibit labels.
Alex, Dalton and Levi Richardson helped move artifacts from
the collection area to the exhibit area
Jeri Kornegay helped us name the exhibit, and Beth Anderson
helped prepare displays and, with Owen Sommers, design and build
mannequins to display clothing.
Steve Lambert assembled the pedal car used by Phil Oppenheim
as a child; it’s something special, and is currently displayed in
our front windows.
making contributions were James R.C. Adams, Steve Batzka, John Knarr
and Allan White. Mary
Chrastil headed the project.
Mary, Joyce Joy and Nancy Reed were involved in every aspect
of mounting the exhibit and were the key authors of its success.
Oppenheim Exhibit will be on display through 2012.
After that, a major portion of it will become part of the
Center for History’s permanent displays.
and Mortgage Burning
26, the North Manchester Historical Society celebrated two happy
events. First, we
celebrated our ten-year anniversary at the former Oppenheim
Department Store building.
The Oppenheim store closed in October, 2000.
The building was purchased by the Historical Society in
December, 2000. The
Society had been exploring various options for relocating its
collection from the Town Life Center (former Thomas Marshall School)
when the building became available.
The collection was moved to this site in the spring of 2001.
location was of great benefit to the Society and to the community.
Rather than having three empty store fronts downtown,
interesting and attractive window displays appear three or four
times an year. The
community has used the building for receptions, reunions, and
special events, and the Historical Society happily participates in
community events such as Fun Fest, Harvest Festival, and the Bunny
It was a
leap of faith to purchase the structure.
Many wondered if the building was too large, thinking that we
would never fill it. At
that time, the Historical Society had approximately 2,200 items in
its collection. Today,
the collection boasts of over 23,000 items!
During Fun Fest this summer, we were hard pressed to find
space for our special exhibits, traveling exhibit, movie screening,
entertainers and bake sale on the main floor.
Collection storage and administrative space take up the
upstairs, and we are starting to explore the lower level for
additional gallery space.
We have had no problems filling the building!
And we are very pleased that the community trusts us to
conserve, interpret and exhibit their treasures from the past.
Special thank you to the Harold and Eleanor Miller family for
their donation of 1,200 farm-related artifacts in 2009, and the
family of Phil and Pat Oppenheim for the donation of over 600
artifacts from the family and store in 2010.
second thing we celebrated was burning our mortgage on the Oppenheim
Building. Our final
mortgage payment was made in January, 2011.
President Mary Chrastil noted that she had often heard of
mortgage burnings, but had not experienced such a ceremony
personally. She then lit
up a copy of the paid up mortgage for all to enjoy.
The NM Historical Society now owns the building free and
clear, in only ten years and one month.
Thank you to all who have contributed to our efforts, with a
special thank you to the Paul Speicher Foundation.
Curtain to Be Restored
Manchester Historical Society is very pleased to announce that we
have received a grant of $2,000 from the Community Foundation of
Wabash County to help with the restoration of a rare Painted
Theatrical Backdrop in our collection.
We commonly refer to such backdrops as opera curtains.
curtain was donated by J. P. Freeman.
We contacted the Indiana Historical Society for information,
and they referred us to textile conservator Jennifer Hein to get an
estimate for the restoration.
She told us something very interesting.
Painted theatrical backdrops are very rare!
Because they are painted on fabric and because they were
often folded up or rolled up, they were prone to cracking, rot,
mildew and mold. She
told us she knew of only one other organization in Indiana that had
a backdrop; we have since learned of two others.
Based on photographs, she thought ours was an excellent
example based on the quality of its artwork and the brightness of
will cover a portion of the $6,500 cost to stabilize and restore the
backdrop. We have also
received a private donation of $1,000 toward the project.
We hope to bring Jennifer Hein to North Manchester this fall
to begin the project.
have this unexpected treasure in our museum, we decided to make it
the centerpiece of our programming for the coming months.
Ms. Hein has agreed to allow the general public and high
school and college art and history students to observe her work on a
limited basis. Watch for
announcements on when the observations are scheduled.
spring, when the opera curtain restoration is completed, we plan on
a series of programs centered around it.
Sample programs may include performances by historical
interpreters and opera students, lectures on the businesses listed
on the opera curtain, and lectures on the North Manchester Opera
House and performances held there, and a lecture on the Chautauqua
Movement in the 19th and
way, as rare as the opera curtain is, we have the good fortune to
have TWO of them in our collection!
You have no doubt seen the one on display, which could use
some conservation work, but which is in good condition overall.
Charles Boebel wrote an informative article on this curtain
published in local newspapers last fall.
Who knew that the opera curtains were so rare, and who would
have believed that we have not one, but two, of them!
Center for History is taking advantage of a wonderful program
offered by the Indiana Historical Society.
The IHS gives not-for-profits the opportunity to display
exhibits on topics of interest in Indiana History.
Their list of exhibits includes over 20 different choices.
Three exhibits can be displayed every year for free, and the
Center for History is scheduling the maximum.
The exhibits can be booked for approximately one month.
exhibit was displayed in March, and featured The Care and
Identification of Family Photographs.
Because the exhibit was a two-dimensional display, we decided
to enhance it with items we have in our own collection.
We found 160 photographs, cameras, stereopticons, and other
items! We have tintypes,
daguerreotypes, and a rare ambrotype.
We didn’t know what cartes de visite and cabinet cards
were until we hosted the exhibit; but we found we had some in our
collection! In fact, we
had an example of every item mentioned in the exhibit.
The exhibit that we added worked so well that we decided to
keep it on display. You
can see The Care and Identification of Family Photographs at
the Center for History through the end of the year.
finished our second traveling exhibit of the year, Indiana
Through the Map-Maker’s Eyes.
To enhance the 20-panel display, we exhibited maps and globes
from the NM Historical Society collection.
Although the traveling exhibit is gone, the maps and globes
are on display in our front windows through October.
They include some interesting Sanborn maps of North
Manchester, originally made for insurance purposes but now a
treasure trove of information for historical research.
year’s final traveling exhibit will be on display from October 17
through November 18, and will feature the World War II photographs
of Indianapolis resident John Bushemi.
Our windows will display a salute to local veterans.
Center for History has brought IHS traveling exhibits to the
community before. Some
years ago we hosted exhibits on Post Office Murals and on
The Auto in Indiana.
like the community to recognize the Center for History as the place
where these excellent exhibits are available to them on a regular
basis. You don’t have to
travel to Indianapolis to see them.
Expect more traveling exhibits next year.
Up, Clean Up
By Nancy Reed, Director
Submitted August 2011
opening on March 19,
2011, was preceded and followed by many volunteer hours of cleaning,
painting, carpenter work to get new areas ready, moving of showcases
and just good old elbow grease.
A group of Manchester College students helped us to remove
wallpaper and paint the north room.
They also assisted in removing the displays in the front
windows and removing the tape adhered to those windows.
Mary and Joyce carried most of the load on organizing and
supervising this one and several that followed.
I was in and out of the hospital with tests and broken wrists
(one in November and one in May).
[Just so you’ll know, I’m all well again and back to work.]
Next came a town-wide clean up day when many of the churches
volunteer during Sunday morning services to go about town cleaning
up. In our case, a group
from the First Brethren Church picked us to help and we divided them
among our 3 floors and got a lot done to organize and clean things
out. Some washed our
display windows, inside and out.
Some helped us clean out the garage, and there was much
carrying of heavy items to the basement.
Another group swept cobwebs, replaced light bulbs and handled
the dirty work of sprucing up the basement storage area.
A couple of brave ladies attacked the archival storage
shelves on the second floor with dusters and a shop vac.
We didn’t get everything done (as we hoped might be
accomplished), but enough that we felt it was a grand success.
It might be compared to the olden days when your aunts,
uncles, and grandparents did spring and fall house cleaning.
Do any of you still do this?
As for the rest of it, it will have to wait for another day.
Activities continue and we’re busy planning so much for the rest of
the year and for 2012.
You would be amazed at what our small staff accomplishes.
Stop by to see for yourself.
[And bring some friends or family with you!]
was our third year for holding a bake sale as a fund-raiser for the
North Manchester Center for History.
With so much to do in preparing the Oppenheim exhibits, we
found just the team of volunteers to take over the organizational
part of putting on a bake sale.
Judy Glasgow, Nancy Schuler, Carolyn Reed, Loree Pritchard,
Jeanette Lahman, and Bonnie Merritt capably did the phone calling
for baked items, getting
workers for the sale, and working at the sale itself.
As for the baked items, and I say this every year, they were better
than ever! Seriously,
the talent for baking has not been lost over the years.
The pies were numerous and scrumptious.
The cookies, fudge and brownies were hits with the children.
Lots of people purchased the snack mixes in individual
baggies as they walked by our outdoor table during the Friday night
yeast rolls, Danish pastry, muffins and cakes were grabbed up in no
time at all.
We started out overflowing three long tables and the top of a long
showcase with baked items.
By the end of day one, we were down to two tables and by
closing time on Saturday, everything was sold.
Total profit for the Center for History was nearly $725.
All of it will go into our annual fund budget to offset costs
of running the Center for History.
Thank you workers:
Bea Knarr, Mary Miller, Phyllis Pettit, B.J. Grube, JoAnn
Schall, Sally Welborn, Betty Hamlin, Peggy Gilbert, Cass Amiss,
Loree Pritchard, Julia Hoover, Arlene Deardorf, Karen Hewitt.
Thank you bake sale committee, thank you Barb Amiss, Nancy
Tiger and Nancy Schuler for putting in extra hours, and thank you
Fun Fest attendees for buying from us.
We’ll be back next year.
Yourself in the Movies” Project
Many of you have seen the 1938 Tri-Kappa movie “See Yourself
in the Movies”. In case
you haven’t heard of it, it was film shot by a professional
photographer in 1938.
The Tri-Kappa group in cooperation with the Business and
Professional Women, arranged for movies to be shot on specific days
in North Manchester. It
was advertised in the local newspaper and the community was urged to
turn out and be ready for the photographer to come to their
workplace, church, school or business locations.
A few years ago, Jim Adams and Charles Boebel did a voice-over to
the originally silent film, by identifying as many of the people as
they could. The
Historical Society is now undertaking a project to identify even
more people in the film and then Jim and Charles will revise the
script and add many more individuals.
We held the first of those screenings at the Center during Fun Fest
and many turned out to watch the movie and help us with
hundred or more names have already been added.
We plan to meet at Peabody and Timbercrest and with other
individuals so some long-time North Manchester residents can help us
identify even more folks.
If you believe that you could help us, or if you’ve seen the
film and recognized anyone, won’t you please call the Center for
History at 982-0672 or Nancy Reed at 982-2858 and we will be
grateful for your input.
The revised 1938 movie will be sold on DVD, but probably not
until next year.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen the movie, but would like to, copies
are available for $15.00 by contacting the Center for History.
Group showings might be scheduled if you call to arrange it.
Do so quickly, because our deadline to cut off the
identification process is November 1.
VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU
to Owen Sommers who volunteers his extremely gifted talent
of carpentry for so many numerous projects for the North Manchester
Center for History. He
always comes when we need him.
He always has a solution to our dilemmas.
He frequently saves us money by making it work with what we
have. He is dedicated
and gets the tasks done immediately.
He wants to help others in
his retirement years
and he is always happy and gracious. We couldn’t do the projects
without you, Owen.
CAN HELP. HERE ARE SOME
OF OUR NEEDS.
Someone to clean and wax our tile floors with a professional
machine. This is heavy
duty work. We will
supply the products if you will supply the manpower.
Used overhead cabinets (3 or 4) for our small kitchenette.
Volunteer docents for one Wednesday or Saturday each month, between
the hours of 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the Center for History.
We will teach you what you need to know.
If we had more docents, we could open more days and hours.
We like for docents to work in pairs, so bring a friend or we
will match you up with another volunteer.
Volunteer docents and interpreters for the Thomas Marshall house.
We will need to teach you about the Marshalls and the times
around 1850. You will
need to be available at least once a month to give guided tours and
tell the stories of Thomas Marshall and North Manchester.
Add your name to a list of people we might call to help us:
painters, carpenters, those willing to move heavy objects,
cleaners, decorators for window and museum displays. We also need
someone with excellent computer skills to assist with accessioning
artifacts, keeping track of income and expense items on
spreadsheets, working with a membership data base, fundraising
mailings, and much more.
Just call the Center for History to have your name added to our
list. This is part-time,
irregular work at your convenience.
Volunteer to set up a facebook page for us and maintain it.
We are searching for anyone interested in serving on a committee
regarding historic house signs.
The current signs are in disrepair and we want to update and
replace them. Many more
homes deserve to receive a sign and this will need to be researched.
Also, the covenants for receiving and keeping a history house
sign need to be revised.
To volunteer, call the Center.
To volunteer call the Center for History at 260-982-0672 or Nancy
Reed at 260-982-2858.
Manchester Historical Society to Participate in Pilot Program
and board of directors will be participating in a piloting
assessment for the Indiana Historical Society this fall.
We were one of a few museums to be matched up with one other
similar museum around the state to assess one another.
North Manchester has been matched with the Madison County
Museum at Anderson, IN.
They will be critiquing and learning from us and vice versa.
If all goes well, this is a project that will be offered
around the state. We
feel lucky to have been selected.
– See our special Christmas windows, always grand and colorful.
We hope to do a display of dolls from various eras.
If you have a collection that you would be willing to loan,
please contact Nancy Reed at 982-2858 or the Center at 982-0672.
we have group tours being booked throughout the year.
Would your church group, graduating class, social club,
family reunion, anniversary party, or friends and relatives like to
see and hear about our exhibits?
Ask us about our special rates for group parties.
Then call to book a tour with us.
We’ll be glad to tailor your tour for whatever your time
limit allows. It takes a
minimum of one-half hour to see everything—fast.
An hour is better and 1-1/2 hours will be filled with
historic facts and stories that we’re certain you will enjoy.
Touring the Center for History is a very nostalgic trip.
Another part of your tour can be to visit the second floor to
see how we archive and store our over 23,000 items and know where
they are when we need to retrieve them.
request of Manchester College we have added their African Art
collection to our storage area.
We anticipate getting a grant that will help us restore and
stabilize this collection and hope to build a special humidity
controlled area in our basement to display these valuable items.
We expect the process to take more than a year to complete,
so stand by for more details of our progress.
the release of a new hand-made, DeWitt model car.
It is made of wood, is very durable and just right for giving
to a child. They may be
available for Christmas.
projects pop up daily.
We never know what opportunity is going to present itself, but we
look forward to them.
They make our museum ever-changing and always interesting.
CENTER FOR HISTORY CELEBRATING 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
This month (March 2011) the North Manchester Center for History
will be celebrating its 10th year in the former Oppenheim building.
We are proud to announce that during this 10-year period our
collection has increased from 2,200 items to nearly 23,000
documents, artifacts and local historical treasures. This article
highlights the humble beginnings of the collection and some of the
people that made it possible.
As early as the late 1960s, articles of historic worth were
stored on the third floor of the city hall building. Though not
organized in a formal display, these items were available for public
viewing on a limited basis. At some point the items needed to be
moved and were stored above the Wible Shoe Store (Burge Building) on
Main Street, site of the current AT&T wireless store. By 1972, the
North Manchester Historical Society organized under the able
leadership of Max and Sally Allen. Items of historical interest
continued to be collected by this group and by the sesquicentennial
year collections were very active and publicly solicited. In 1984,
with the growing number of items, an organized method of logging
accessions was adopted. In 1990, two former classrooms in the Town
Life Center (formerly Thomas Marshall School) were rented by the
Historical Society to once again display and store the artifacts.
Max and Grace Kester supervised the creation of attractive
educational displays. Rosemary Manifold and Catherin Smith were in
charge of accessions for many years, and the collection continued to
grow with the addition of donations from the general public. This
are of the Town Life Center was given the name, North Manchester
Historical Society Museum. Phil Orpurt became quite active as
curator of this museum and spent many long hours collecting,
recording, displaying an preserving items for future generations to
With a need to vacate to Town Life Center classrooms and the
growing pains of available space, an advisory committee of the
historical society was formed consisting of David Grandstaff,
Emerson Niswander, Jim Adams, Steve Batzka, Shirley Mishler, Dick
Miller, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, Ferne Baldwin and Ralph Naragon.
This committee focused on finding a new home for the museum. While
their meetings and fact-finding progressed, the Oppenheim Store came
up for sale. The Oppenheim Store, a staple in North Manchester for
125 years, began in 1875 with Jacob Oppenheim opening the Oppenheim
New York Cheap Store.
In 2000, negotiations began and progressed to the purchase of the
site in December 2000; the collection was moved in 2001. Emerson
Niswander helped secure Oppenheim store artifacts for the collection
during the auction when the store was liquidated. Countless
volunteer hours and hired contractors began to prepare the Oppenheim
building for housing the 2200 items that had been collected. A
specially chosen Museum Committee consisting of former advisory
committee members, Mary Chrastil, Steve Hammer, David Grandstaff,
Ralph Naragon, and with the addition of Arthur Gilbert, Phil Orpurt,
Bonnie Ingraham, Tim Taylor and Robin Lahman began to steer the
museum into the 21st century.
Jeanne Andersen served as Director as collection information was
transferred to professional museum software and labeled using
standard museum techniques. Key volunteers were Bernice Ford, Eunice
Butterbaugh, Joyce Joy, Debbie Chinworth, Carolyn Leffel, Ann
Curtis, Evelyn Niswander and Ferne Baldwin. Window displays were
established, several special temporary exhibits were presented, and
planning was done for permanent exhibits. Under the leadership of
Bill Eberly, in 2007 the Center for History established regular
hours when the public could view exhibits. At that time, Nancy Reed
became Director. The full circle had been made, as Nancy had been
instrumental in storing and exhibiting the small collection housed
in the City Hall building so many years before.
Several "mini" collections have been key additions to the overall
collection. Ferne Baldwin and Bill Eberly were influential in
obtaining items that had been stored at Manchester College or were
in the College Museum. The Harold and Eleanor Miller family donated
over 1,200 farm related artifacts collected over four generations.
And the family of Pat and Phil Oppenheim recently donated over 600
items from that family.
Today, in 2011 we celebrate the goal of paying off the mortgage
on the museum. On March 26, the Historical Society will host a
reception, behind-the-scenes tours of our building and extensive
collection, and a mortgage burning. The Board of Directors of the
North Manchester Historical Society feel the museum is an attractive
new asset for Main Street and an important step for the society and
the town of North Manchester. We are pleased that the community
trusts that the Historical Society will take good care of its
memories and artifacts, as demonstrated in the rapid growth of our
To donate items for consideration, contact Joyce Joy, curator, at
982-0672. You can also visit us at 120 E. Main St., North
Manchester; or at
Submitted by Mary Chrastil, President, North
Manchester Historical Society.
Source: The Paper, March 9, 2011
2010 ANNUAL REPORT OF DIRECTOR
Nancy J. Reed, January 2011
Red Hat Society
Miller Room Dedication
College Board of Trustees’ Wives
65th Anniversary of Bill/Kay Bellinger
A.I.B. Judges’ Gala
Cruisin’ Just for Fun
Signing, Antique Appraisal
Janene Dawes & Tom Airgood
(before MHS Alumni Banquet)
After-Alumni Banquet group
Heckman Bindery (HF Group)
Class of 1960
Class of 1957
MES Second Grade
MES Third Grade
MES Fourth Grade
Private Tour – Briner family
South Bend Center for History, Copshaholm &
MES 3rd & 4th Grade
Studebaker Museum Budget
Genealogical Society of Wabash County
H.S. Board Retreat
Watershed Initiative Steering Committee
Oppenheim Home to pick out accessions
Rotary at Thomas Marshall House
Shipshewana to purchase vest materials
Docent Meetings (2)
Chamber Awards Banquet
Community Foundation Board
Society, Local History Organi-
Fire Dept. Meeting & Tour
Met with J.T. DuBois re. fire extinguishers
Indiana State Historical Society, Indy
Met with Nowak re. fire alarm systems
Wabash County Convention &
Lunch with CFH Staff
Meet the new Director & Brainstorming
Met w/M.C. Art Class to Design Brochures
Met w/Carol Patrick-Miller re. student
Lantz letters transcribed a
Established Annual & 5 Year Goals
Accessioned Miller collection
Re-established Annual Fund
Painting of Barn Room
Established admission policies
Faux Painting of Barn Room
Held 2 Board Retreats
New Flooring in Barn Room
Expanded clothing storage (doubled)
Shelving in Barn Room
Barn Room Decorated
First time preparing unified budget
Bob Sled Rebuilt
Installed fire extinguishers at CFH
Brochures (Center for History, Historical
Fire inspection completed by local
Society, & Miller
Barn) 500 copies each
Phil Orpurt completed Dendrochronology
(identification of tree rings on lg log)
Reinstituted Nominating Committee
Membership & Fund Raising Outreach
Set up Calendar to follow monthly
WORK IN PROGRESS
Accession of Oppenheim collection
Identification of pictures thru News Journal
History Kits (3rd & 4th
Established Data Base for membership &
fund raising mailings
Get Docents more involved
Arrange for special exhibits from Indiana Hist.
Revamp Gift Shop
Closer contact / involvement with other area
More and better publicity
10th Anniversary Celebration
Complete Inventory of Collection
Continue planning for façade renovations
Pay off buildings (last payment)
Docent manual & guided tours
DeWitt model for gift shop
Activity for Historic Preservation month (May)
Improve exhibit labeling
2010 GUEST BOOK SUMMARY
1,200 guests signed our guest book in 2010
Doesn’t include Miller Barn Dedication, Bunny Hop,
Fun Fest, Bake Sale or Harvest Fest
Our Guests -
Illinois, Rock Island
Ohio, N. Benton
North Carolina, Winston-Salem
North Carolina, Elk Park
North Carolina, Hillsborough
New York, Buffalo
South Dakota, Sturgis
Pennsylvania, McKees Rocks
Michigan, Grand Haven
Michigan, Sun Field
Florida, Highland Beach
New Port Richey
Rancho Santa Fe
Texas, San Antonio
New Jersey, Edison
LOTS TO SEE IN THE CENTER
Nancy J. Reed, Director of Displays
Can it be nearly a year now since I updated this page?
Wow, I really have been busy!
Since last May when I last wrote my article, we have had a
number of events to prepare for and many displays changed or added.
In the summer months our four large storefront windows
featured displays with a circus theme.
The collection was loaned by Doug Konkle of
Wabash and was very extensive.
Mr. Konkle primarily collects posters and photographs from
the big circuses that traveled our nation at their most popular
one of the circus capitols of the world, there is no lack of items
to be traded and purchased around this area of the state.
I also traveled to the Circus Hall of Fame in
and borrowed several costumes which were featured.
One of them was worn by Lloyd Bridges from one of his movies
and another was a trapeze costume belonging to one of the flying
Wallenda daughters. A
clown costume, circus trunk, elephant headdresses and even a dog
harness with feathers were featured.
Mr. Konkle has another hobby of carving objects out of wood.
We proudly showed off his carved circus wagons and animals
and his midway complete with ticket booth, balloon stand, and stages
with curtains showing off the various side-show events that one
could purchase a ticket to see.
The theme of our annual Fun Fest in
N. Manchester was the circus, so our huge
window displays helped to set the mood for the community.
Our windows are becoming an attraction that everyone waits to
see as they get changed four times a year.
During Fun Fest, we had over 600 visitors and a part of what
attracted them was the huge bake sale.
Volunteers baked homemade pies, cakes, breads, cookies, etc.
that we sold whole or by the piece.
We also served sarsaparilla, ginger beer, limeade, sweet tea,
iced tea and ice cream.
It produced a good profit for the Center and we plan to do it again
this year during Fun Fest, August 12-14.
If you can make it to N. Manchester
at that time, please stop by to sample the baked goodies and enjoy a
For winter, the windows were decorated as follows:
1) A huge collection of teddy bears and a teddy bear
Christmas tree. These
bears were from the collections of Dave Tranter, Joanne Michels,
Theron Rupley, Diane Eberly, Nancy Reed, Bette Reed, and Joyce Joy.
A childhood photograph of each of the collectors was
displayed next to their bears. 2) A kitchen scene from the 1940’s,
complete with a dining room table with tableware from that era and a
Seller’s kitchen cabinet that belonged to Eleanor & Harold Miller
when they were first married.
A Christmas tree was decorated with bubble lights and cookie
cutters. A little boy
(wearing a romper belonging to Ted Hill) and his Momma were in the
kitchen in their period clothing.
3) A quilting frame displaying a hand-made quilt provided by
the Manchester Retail Merchants to be raffled off at Christmas was
featured. Paintings by
Gladys Scheumann decorated the walls and a melodeon belonging to
Caroline & Henry Lantz, builders or the Lantz (later Sheller) Hotel,
completed the window. 4)
Radios from the 1920’s through the 1950’s were displayed
along with posters on the wall listing most of the old-time radio
programs that we loved to listen to. Those were the days when
listening to the radio was our main source of news and enjoyment in
the evenings, before television and computers.
Inside of the museum the second Dewitt automobile is now on
loan and on display along side the first one, given to the
Historical Society by Russell (Pudge) Egolf.
This second car was built and used for stage plays in New
York city. It is run on
battery power and ran quietly across the stage so that the actors
voices could still be heard.
Pudge bought the car back, when they were done with it, and
now you can see it for yourself.
It’s a four-seater, “convertible”, painted bright red.
The high school class pictures that hung in the hallways at
Central and Chester are now featured
in another area. There
are only about 24 pictures in our collection at this point.
Those of you who may know of someone who has your class
photograph might wish to consider donating it to the Center for
History for everyone to enjoy and for safekeeping.
The skilled work of The Bonnet Factory is also displayed,
complete with brochure, catalog, materials and a complete history of
how the bonnets were made.
Several examples in various stages of completion show us just
how they were manufactured.
The bonnets were primarily made for the Brethren and Dunkard
ladies of this community, but were shipped to other communities and
states because of their design and quality.
The BIGGEST change since last I wrote, is that the Miller Barn
Museum is now complete.
This display features the hundreds of items collected by
Harold Miller over his lifetime, some of which belonged to his
father, Ellis Miller.
The barn room is painted with red walls that have been faux finished
by Steve Batzka to look like real barn siding.
Construction of the barn room was directed by Owen Sommers
who is a retired home builder whom we are fortunate to have living
here at Timbercrest Senior Living Community.
Owen was assisted by Bob Amiss, Sam Leckrone,
Russ Reahard, Robin Lahman and Richard Miller at various
times, to complete the building phases.
Wood-like flooring was installed, new lighting fixtures, and
shelving was hung clear to the beamed ceiling.
Featured in the collection is a haymow, six horse-drawn
plows, a high wheeled Turnbull farm wagon, bobsled, grain shaker,
bear skin coat, and a large number of farm implements.
The collection is simply unique and is a must-see if you are
ever in this part of
Across the room from the farm collection are the items
collected from the Miller house, including Eleanor and Harold’s
Sellers kitchen cabinet that they went to housekeeping with in the
late 1930’s. Dishes, the
children’s toys, an ironer, and many more items complete this
The barn display isn’t quite complete, however.
Numerous photographs of farm life are yet to be enlarged and
hung on the walls outside of the barn room.
It is a collection of pictures that most can identify with as
they recall life on the farm in the days when manual labor and hard
work were all in a day’s work.
It won’t matter to you that these pictures feature the three
generations of Millers, because they are so reminiscent of anyone
who grew up on a farm.
Come on in and see for yourself the beauty and memories of a bygone
The Brethren and Old Order “Dunkard” display has been moved
and enlarged. As people
come in to see the Barn Room, they also enjoy this display and
frequently have pictures they are willing to share with us of other
“annual meetings”, the churches and people involved.
In re-establishing this display, I realized how important it
would be to also feature our other churches that started out at the
same time (and before) here in N. Manchester.
The history of the Lutheran Church
is now in process and will soon be ready.
Yet to follow will be the history of the Methodist Church
and the Congregational Christian Church.
All four of these churches were established early-on in this
community. Anyone with
photographs or memorabilia from these or any other churches may
contact me to discuss copying or using your materials as a loan or
permanent donation to the Center.
We don’t want to leave anyone out and would like to expand
this exhibit to feature all of our churches.
We will need your help to do so.
With this latest expansion, we are now facing the problem of
running out of display space.
We have just two small rooms yet to be refurbished and then
we will need to consider going either upstairs or downstairs for
more exhibit space. That
is currently being discussed by our Board of Directors.
I’m also working with several
Manchester College classes and with Manchester Elementary School
to develop more educational programs for our students.
Fourth graders, in particular, study
history and we desire to expand the programs we offer at the Center
to help make their studies come to life and be more meaningful.
We will be working with the student teaching class at
College to develop tours
and learning tools that address the curriculum mandated for each
class, not just fourth grade.
The college students will work directly with the elementary
classes to provide crafts and hands-on learning techniques to help
them understand North Manchester and Indiana history better.
Another of our Historical Society members, Mary Chrastil, is
in the process of developing sets of storage boxes that will contain
more learning materials.
These boxes may be checked out by the teacher to their classroom so
that the children can learn by experiencing the contents of the
boxes. For instance, a
box could contain items that a family might have brought with them
as they emigrated from Europe to the United States.
Or a box might contain what they would pack to travel west by
wagon train or canal boat.
Period clothing could fill another box.
If you have any ideas for filling these educational boxes,
please feel free to contact us with your thoughts or contributions.
Dr. Ejenoba Oke’s Art/Graphic Design class is working this
semester to design and produce new brochures for the Historical
Society and for the Center for History.
You may expect lots of colored photographs and innovative
ideas to be the center of attention as we tell what we are all about
through the brochures.
They’ll be ready soon.
We’ll post them on our web site when they are ready.
If you need a copy(ies), just phone, email or write to us and
we’ll be glad to forward a supply.
Fundraising and lots of building improvements are topics we
continually discuss. We
will soon have a new budget approved and then the financial
assistance must come next.
We are growing and improving and expanding in so many ways
and everyone who sees us exclaims, “Wow, I didn’t know this was
here. It’s so great and
I love the ever-changing displays and remembering my childhood.”
“I’ve learned so much about North Manchester’s history and
the people who pioneered the community.
Everyone should see this!”
We hear these comments and so much more every week.
We are a success and we are ready to grow and expand, but we
need money and we need you to donate items for our collection.
Our staff of volunteers is growing, the numbers of tours and
meetings we host are increasing, more and more events are being
planned for the Center, and we desire to make it the place to meet,
a hub of activity, and a setting where all ages come together to
enjoy one another. What can
you do to participate and help?
I look forward to what the next six months will bring.
Hopefully, it will not be another year before I write to you
again. In the meantime,
appreciate your past and look with anticipation to the future.
Contribute to the Center for History if you can.
LOTS TO SEE IN THE CENTER
By Nancy J. Reed, Director
May 5, 2009
It was a very busy winter for the volunteers at
the Center for History.
Although the doors were closed to the public (except for
pre-arranged tours) the building didn’t sit idle nor did the staff.
It took many days to arrange the glittering holiday windows
with backdrops of sparkling material covering the walls of four
Green was the backdrop for evergreen trees, leaves and branches for
a woodland scene featuring Luke Hunt’s gifted talent of taxidermy.
A deer, skunk, coyote, porcupine, bobcat, duck and a variety
of birds looked right at home and we were sorry to see them go when
the windows were dismantled to make way for spring displays.
Another window featured a silver background for
the two silver, aluminum trees with a colored wheel revolving and
changing colors just like they did in the 60’s when they were
produced and very popular.
The ground was covered with snow and there was a pond
complete with snowman just waiting for anyone to come ice skating.
This serene scene also featured snowflakes coming down from
above and a crystal, lighted stag enjoying his reflection in the
pond. For nostalgic
purposes we included a dozen or so photographs of N. Manchester
scenery from bygone days; each one showing off our beautiful snows
of past winter seasons.
The third window reminded us of our Christmases
in the past. The
Oppenheim’s Santa Claus made another appearance to a living room
complete with lighted tree, cozy carpets on the floor, an easy chair
& ottoman. (Santa needs
some electrical work because he doesn’t move any more.
Anyone want to volunteer?)
Close by was a new acquisition for the Center; a
Santa had just placed many gifts under the tree, including a
collection of tractors loaned by Joyce & Dale Joy.
The packages had some special decorations on them this year.
Pictures of the Kitson children from the 50’s showing off
their Christmas morning presents were attached to the packages.
Of course we didn’t forget a glass of milk and a plate of
cookies for Santa to enjoy, but the family’s puppy was sitting up
and begging for a share.
The fourth window was all in royal blue
sparkling through the night.
This window could not have held another nativity scene as we
featured Bernice Ford’s large collection.
The holiday trees were tree branches wrapped with blue lights
and all of the shelving and boxes holding the nativities were
covered in dark blue velvet.
It was a very beautiful display.
Some from outside the window tried to spoil it by spitting
and throwing eggs on this window, but it didn’t deter other visitors
from appreciating “the reason for the season.”
We just cleaned off the windows frequently.
Our final window (the one with our logo and
lettering on the walls), was kept simple with some of the toys and
games that have been acquired by the Center for History over the
years. (We don’t have
very many, so please don’t throw yours away or sell them in an
auction. We could
certainly use them.)
These were beautiful windows and we were sorry
to see them go away, but then there is always next year.
Here is a list of some of the other displays
that were improved or added just in time for our opening on April 4,
New items and photos were added to the bank
display. Union Trust
Bank, Lawrence National Bank, and the Indiana Bank are all
identified and explained.
Several new pieces have been added to the Indiana Lawrence
Bank collection as well.
If these notes cause you to think about items
that you have stuck away in your attic, garage or storage shed,
remember that our collections are never complete.
We sometimes struggle to find enough items to complete a
display. Please think
about donating to the museum the next time you are sorting through
“stuff”, don’t know what to do with the old items, or no one in the
family wants them. We
The dresser gifted to a Dunkard girl and built
in North Manchester now displays some dresser decorations of the
period with some Currier & Ives prints on the walls.
The history of Currier & Ives is nearby for anyone to read
A closet hanging full of a wide variety of
period clothing is featured in a new display just added.
The closet invites visitors to look at the clothing by
handling them by the hangar rather than touching the fabric of each
piece. Also in the
closet are many high button shoes, both for adults and children.
Across the aisle we show off
several interesting hats in our
collection. There is
space provided for one to sit down (on a 50’s style hair dryer
chair) and try on the hats.
Mirrors reflect the beautiful image as you ponder what you
might have looked like in your grandmother’s or great grandmother’s
hats. We plan to expand
this exhibit with gloves, handkerchiefs, and jewelry.
Nearby we still have the textile section,
displaying our collection of sewing, weaving, tapestry, quilting,
and other hand crafted items.
Five quilts are featured; one of them made by Helen Garner’s
elementary school class.
Spinning wheels, a treadle sewing machine, ironing board &
iron, quilting frame, a loom, and tapestry frame are also part of
this section of the museum.
We had a collection of sewing notions and thimbles, loaned by
Evelyn & Emerson Niswander, featured during the holidays.
But, alas, they needed to return them to Theron Rupley’s
Antique Store where they are for sale.
Theron frequently loans us items to complete our displays
when we don’t have enough.
Thank you, Theron.
He’s just a couple of doors down from the Center to the east,
so when in town, plan to stop by his store as well.
Nancy Reed has added two of her personal
collections of art glass for your pleasure.
The blue collection features a blue milk glass plate that was
from her grandmother.
Other items were also collected from her two great aunts.
Most of the Reed side of the family collected antiques or had
antique stores. Nancy
said there were annual vacation trips made to Wisconsin, antique
hunting and fishing.
The second collection is cranberry glass and was acquired the same
way. Some items,
however, she purchased herself while working for auctioneer, Eldon
Metzger, as his cashier for a number of years.
“Authors from North Manchester” section is
nearly complete now. A
reading corner has been provided for visitors to sit and enjoy the
books, pamphlets and photographs of our local writers.
Some of those featured include Lloyd C. Douglas, Thomas R.
Marshall, Chief Clarence Godfroy, Dr. Ladoska Z. Bunker, Vernon
Schwalm, William Eberly, Patricia Ringenberg, Otho Winger, Ida
Winger, and William Billings.
Some of their books were available from the Center’s
collection; however, there are many more we would like to have
donated. A list of
those books still needed will be included on this web site at a
later time. We will
gladly receive any works by local authors that we may not yet know
of or have in our collection.
We have opened another section in this display
for visitors to come in to look at the collection of N. Manchester
yearbooks. We reserve
copies of each yearbook in our archives that we don’t allow the
general public to handle.
We already have two copies of every Aurora, Ravelings, En Em,
Crest, and Laktonian stored in the library archives.
The third copy of any of these books will be placed on the
book shelves of our “Author” area for anyone to peruse.
In case you haven’t been to our museum, here is
a list of some other displays currently being featured. To view a
particular exhibit click on the link. You will want to return to
this page by then clicking on the browser's back arrow.
Americana Shoppe (souvenir items of N.
Manchester for sale)
Early Brethren Conferences held in Harter’s
Hamilton Opera House
The lumber companies
Livery stables & horse shoeing establishments
Giek Tile & Brick Manufacturing
House building styles of this area
Manchester Bonnet Factory
Martha Winesburg’s classroom
Mastodon bones found in this area
One of the last remaining eels found in Eel
N. Manchester Covered Bridge
N. Manchester Fire Dept. Then & Now
Oppenheim’s Department Store
Peabody Furniture Factory
Radios, record players, Victrolas, Player Piano
– our music of the past
Rufle’s Jewelry Store
Hamilton / Strauss Mill
The art of Gladys Scheumann
Thomas R. Marshall, Governor of Indiana & Vice
President of the U.S.
North Manchester Historical Society wishes to thank the Public
Library for the loan of an original oil painting of the Strauss Mill
by Earl Egolf. The
painting will be on display at the Center for History through the
spring and summer months.
A new and exciting project is under
way at the Center for History right now.
The four children of Eleanor & Harold Miller (Rosemary,
Richard, Carol & Joann), have given his farm museum collection of
implements and other items from four generations of Millers to the
Nearly all of the items have been moved to the Center and are now
being cleaned and accessioned.
Volunteers are badly needed to help us clean the many items
that have been donated.
Mr. Miller had them displayed in his own museum room within his
large barn on the 100-plus-year-old farm where he lived north of
town. The same
homestead was lived in and farmed by his father, Ellis Miller, and
by at least one generation prior to that.
Along with these farm items, the volunteers at the Center
have already put in many hours cataloging and researching 2,000
paper items including farm records, receipts, ledgers, diaries,
photographs, post cards, personal letters, calling cards, grade
cards, school photos, ration coupons and much more.
At present the collection is being
temporarily stored in two very large rooms that are not open to the
public. It is hoped
that the Historical Society will be able to remodel one of those
rooms to look like the inside of a barn.
Some structural and leaking problems must be resolved before
this project can be completed.
The Board of Directors is currently planning to work with a
local contractor to complete estimates for the cost of this endeavor
and then many volunteers and donations will be needed to see it
happen. This project
has been put on the front burner, so to speak, because we will need
the room ready to display the artifacts once they are cleaned and
accessioned. This is a
collection so outstanding that we feel certain it will attract the
men and farmers from near and far to inspect these tools from
generations past. Just
to whet your appetite, there is a bob sled, parts of a smaller
Conestoga-type wagon, and what we believe to be a Studebaker wagon
bed. Much work will be
done to restore these items as funds will permit.
Just as a reminder to readers, the North Manchester Center
for History is run solely on donations and grants.
Dues from the Historical Society members go to offset the
cost of publishing our quarterly Newsletter and other
expenses of the organization.
There is no paid staff; only volunteers.
At present our windows are
featuring themes for spring.
Our Manchester College art student, Cat Davis, who is
interning this semester, has painted a wall-sized watercolor of the
gazebo in Warvel Park.
The window, titled “Playing in Warvel Park with Daddy” features a
small child playing in the sand with old-style tin buckets and
shovels. Their dog
keeps watch over the baby nearby.
Daddy, meanwhile, is reclining in the grass while flying two
kites (made by Manchester Elementary School students).
The mannequin of daddy is really a paper machete project
completed by Manchester High School art students a few years ago.
They plastered themselves and other models with paper machete
and gave the Center many different posed mannequins to use for our
In the next window its “April
Showers Bring May Flowers” as umbrellas are featured.
Another paper machete mannequin of a young man who has fallen
into a rain puddle is the center of attention.
His umbrella is open upside-down, his MP3 player is saved
from falling into the water by a wrist band, but the earphones are a
bit askew on his head.
Under another umbrella in the window, a mother rabbit and her baby
The third window shows off a
collection of doctor’s office items (from the collection of Beth
Davis). This collection
includes nursing books, bedpans, medicine bottles, scissors, salves,
and features a wicker wheelchair.
From the Center’s collection we added doctor’s white jackets,
scrubs, a nurse’s uniform & cape, all of the doctor’s bag in our
possession (10) and the story of the building of Manchester Clinic.
The photographs of Doctors Lloyd Smith, Paul Eiler, Michael
Silvers, Wilbur McFadden, Parks Adams and Rex Wieland are displayed.
Another photograph shows the whole staff on the 20th
anniversary of Manchester Clinic.
The business was established in 1961 by Dr. Smith & Eiler,
along with Don Spitler, pharmacist, and Dr. William Gordon, dentist.
Two other partners were William Sayer, who had already
established his insurance business on the property where the Clinic
was built, and Rev. Jim Overholt.
We would like to enlarge our
collection of medical instruments and memorabilia if readers have
items to donate. Items
pertaining to N. Manchester physicians, dentists, eye doctors, and
veterinarians, are particularly desired.
The fourth window salutes the Boy
Scouts. The collection
of Dennie Unger is displayed along with a few items from Dave
Hippensteel. Boy Scout
and Cub Scout uniforms, ties, camping equipment, backpacks, books,
badges, etc. are shown.
One of the most exciting new
transitions that has taken place at the Center is that Manchester
College’s Art Department under the direction of Dr. Thelma Rohrer
and supervised by Prof. Ejenoba Oke, is now working in conjunction
with us to furnish an intern each semester to study all aspects of
museum management. Our
first intern was Catherine “Cate” Brelji, from Fort Wayne.
She studied at the Center for History from September through
December, 2008. Her
grade for the semester was based solely on what she learned and
completed at the museum.
Among the assignments and training given, Cate helped to
complete the holiday windows, painted the replica of the Rex
Windmill, set up the Textile display, and learned how to accession,
store, and care for the items donated.
She worked with the editor of our Newsletter and
discussed with him the upcoming completion of this web site.
Cate traveled with Nancy Reed to the Kendallville Windmill
Museum doing research for her model, and gave a presentation to the
Historical Society membership of her experiences during the
Teachers, student and Center for History staff all judged this to be
an extremely beneficial concept for all involved.
The second intern, Catherine “Cat”
Davis, from Argos, started in March and will complete her internship
in May. These students
have talents and skills that are much needed for our displays and we
teach them to appreciate the workmanship and skills of the past and
how to preserve them.
Cat says she is interested in art conservation for her future
career. Cat and Jena
are currently working on the restoration of our mannequins.
We were lucky enough to inherit them from the Oppenheim’s
store, but they are aging and needed a lot of work.
This is a very large project to undertake, but is very much
Many volunteers and items are
needed at the Center for History.
Volunteers may serve as docents, custodians or carpenters.
They may help to arrange displays, assist with accessioning
and cataloging items into the computer.
They may help with the Newsletter, do research,
publicity, fundraising, or work with school children and tours to
demonstrate skills and present programs of interest.
In future updates, I will continue
to add items to the list of needs at the Center for History and mark
off those that we receive and no longer need.
Currently we are looking for the following:
Uniforms from Viet Nam, Persian Gulf and Iran era.
A refrigerator for our kitchenette.
A good sweeper and/or shop vac.
Picture frames in good condition and all sizes.
Saddle shoes and poodle skirts.
Color TV, VCR, DVD player (may be used)
Working color wheel for aluminum tree (could use 2)
Copies of yearbooks from N. Manchester area
Old postcards or pictures showing scenery and businesses in
Same for communities nearby such as Laketon, Sidney, Servia,
Silver Lake, Urbana, etc.
Barn lumber and siding.