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Crawfordsville, Indiana

Crawfordsville, Indiana (Population 15,000) is the seat of Mongomery county (Population 35,000 ), about 25 miles northwest of Indianapolis. It is home of the General Lew Wallace Study, now a museum, containing personal effects and mementos of the novelist and military leader.

General Wallace wrote his famous Ben Hur in the heart of Crawfordsville. His personal library, the Ben Hur Museum, a National Historic Landmark is just a stones throw away from historic Lane Place, a totally restored 19th century antebellum home. Just a few blocks away stands the Old Jail Museum, featuring the world's only operating rotary jail cellblock, constructed in 1882 and listed on the National Register of Historic Preservation.

Outdoor recreation includes canoeing down the number one scenic stream in the state, Sugar Creek. Rent a canoe at Clements within the city limits, choosing the trip length of your choice.

Crawfordsville's history dates back to 1813 when three rangers, Williamson Dunn, Henry Ristine and Major Ambrose Whitlock noted it as an ideal spot for a settlement. Nearly 10 years later the three returned with their families. William Miller had already built the first cabin, locating it on the bluff along Sugar Creek. In the spring of 1823, Ristine built the second. Crawfordsville was laid out in March, 1823 by Major Whitlock, incorporated as a town in 1834, and declared county seat in 1822. Crawfordsville is also home to Wabash College, founded in 1832.

Henry S. Lane Antebellum Mansion, Crawfordsville, Indiana

The Henry S. Lane Antebellum Mansion at 212 S. Water St. is a beautiful, carefully restored Greek Revival home. Henry and his wife Joann built the home in 1845. Lane was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1860. His most noteworthy accomplishment may be his involvement in securing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. Lane later served as a pallbearer at Lincoln's funeral. A lock of Lincoln's hair is on display at the mansion.

Over ten rooms full of the Lanes' original furnishings and belongings make this historic home an authentic example of a pre-Civil War dwelling. National Register of Historic Places.

Call 1-800-866-3973, visitor information or group tours. Call the Lane Mansion directly at: 317-362-3416

Colonel Isaac C. Elston House, Crawfordsville, Indiana

Colonel Isaac C. Elston House
400 E. Wabash Ave.
Stick style of architecture

Small sign in front reads:

"Daughters of the American Revolution,Dorothy Q. Chapter, est. 1895, Elston Memorial Home"

Large sign reads:

"Rehabilitation of this property, which is listed in the national Register of Historic Places, has been funded in part by a matching grant in aid from the US Department of the Interior National Park Service under provision of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended. This program is administered by the Indiana department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic preservation and archeology."

Montgomery Co. Courthouse, Crawfordsville, Indiana

The grand Montgomery Co. Courthouse
Courthouse Square

St. John's Episcopal Church, Crawfordsville, Indiana


St. John's Episcopal Church


212 S. Green St.

old Montgomery County Jail Crawfordsville, Indiana

The old Montgomery County Jail was the first of seventeen known rotary jails built, and is now the only one in operating condition. The limestone-trimmed red brick jail and sheriff's dwelling, an example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture, was completed in 1882 at a cost of $29,000. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The jail was in use until 1973 ,when prisoners were transferred to a new facility.

The most unique feature of the three-story brick building is the rotary jail unit. In United States Patent No. 244,358, dated July 12, 1881, the inventors, William H. Brown and Benjamin F. Haugh wrote: "The object of our inventions is to produce a jail in which prisoners can be controlled without the necessity of personal contact between them and the consists of a circular cell structure of considerable size divided into several cells capable of being rotated, surrounded by a grating which has only one opening, for the convenient handling of prisoners. "

To visit, call 765-362-5222 or the Visitor's Bureau at 1-800-866-3973

As of this writing, the charge for group tours over 10: $2/adults; 50/children; All Montgomery County children free admission

Call 1-800-866-3973, visitor information, group tours. Call the jail directly at: 317-362-5222

These photos are courtesy of the photographer, Mike Habeck ( Mike is with EcoIndiana and, in addition to being concerned about historic architecture, is also looking out for the state's natural environment. Our thanks to Mike for sharing these photos with us.

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