The Defiance County, Ohio Courthouse (1873-)

The Defiance County Courthouse was built in 1873. It spent eighty-five years as one of Ohio’s finest Second Empire structures before an unfortunate renovation turned it into the most hysterically ugly building I’ve ever seen. In 2016, it was renovated in a process that borrowed elements from both iterations to give the building a new lease on life.

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The remains of Bleak Hall Plantation on Edisto Island

My occasional trips to South Carolina’s Lowcountry are invigorating. They let me examine some really old places! Around central Indiana, the earliest cemeteries date to about 1839. while the oldest schoolhouses and churches date from the years following the Civil War. Much of what Edisto Island offers stands in direct contrast to that, and the Bleak Hall Plantation is a perfect example. It dates to 1749!

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The Auto Park Theater: Muncie’s first drive-in

Muncie has always loved movies. From the days of open-air nickelodeons to today’s cavernous AMC 12, people flocked to places like the Lyric, the Wysor Grand, the Delaware Cinema, and Movies at Muncie Mall to see the latest flickers, talkies, and blockbusters! Although few remember it, the city’s first drive-in was called the Auto Park Theater. Nothing remains of it today.

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The Jay County, Indiana Courthouse (1916-)

You wouldn’t know it from all the cornfields, but Indiana is slowly turning into a suburban state. From 2015 to 2050, STATS Indiana projects that only 19 of our 92 counties will increase in population by more than 10%. Fourteen more will see population increases of up to 10%, and most are next to Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Evansville1. Unfortunately, rural places like Jay County are projected to decline. That’s a shame since its county seat, Portland, is home to a fantastic courthouse.

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Abandoned Marsh: Forest Avenue in Marion

The Marsh on Forest Avenue in Marion’s Northgate Shopping Center opened in 1960. The company first remodeled the building in the 1980s before changing the layout again in 2005 to closer resemble its new “Lifestyle” supermarkets like the one in Fort Wayne. Fresh Encounter, an Ohio grocer, purchased the building out of bankruptcy in 2017. Today, it’s a Needler’s Fresh Market.

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Anderson Township’s Smoky Row schoolhouse in Madison County

Anderson Township’s District 8 Schoolhouse -known as the Brown or Smoky Row school- was a two-room schoolhouse that held classes for two grades in each room1. It was named Brown either due to its location on what later became Brown Street in Anderson or as a reference to the family that gave the thoroughfare its name. The Smoky Row moniker came from an early resident walking to town one chilly morning. Noting the chimneys warming the area’s houses, he described the scene as a “smoky row”. The name stuck2.

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The restored Montgomery County, Indiana Courthouse (1876-)

The Montgomery County Courthouse was built in 1876. Sixty-five years later, an artist commissioned to paint downtown Crawfordsville noticed that the tower appeared to be leaning. It was wartime, and officials acted in haste by decapitating the courthouse, melting its bell down, and dumping the clockworks by the county’s highway barn. Although a local citizen rescued the clock and put it up at his jewelry store1, the rest was history.

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Hamilton Township’s District 10 schoolhouse in Delaware County

Milton Hamilton deeded a portion of his land on Riggin Road to the Hamilton and Center School Townships in 18971. Soon after, officials built a schoolhouse there, which became known as Hamilton Township’s District 10 school2. It’s unclear as to whether or not the schoolhouse had a common name.

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Why I became the world’s preeminent collector of Tee Smith basketball cards

Although his NBA career was brief, Tee Smith left Ball State as one of the most decorated Cardinals ever. I’ve never met him, but I felt a personal connection to the guy when I was a kid. That connection may have made me the world’s preeminent collector of his cards! After we took a deep dive into the career of Oliver Miller a couple weeks ago, my trip into basketball obscurity continues.

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