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Crown Point, Indiana Downtown

Historic Homes of Crown Point

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Historic Structures of

Crown Point, Indiana


For many years the Lake County, Indiana Seat (Pop: 16,455).

President Reagan got married here (to Jane Wyman); so did Rudolph Valentino, who drove three times around the ornate high-towered courthouse, waving to assembled throngs. Today, "Valentino's," an ice cream parlor in the basement of the courthouse, is named after him.

A well-known marriage-mill in the 'twenties, Crown Point's greatest international fame came from the escape of desperado John Dillinger, after the famous photograph with his arm around the prosecuting attorney, in 1934. You can visit the jail cell where he was incarcerated, the jailhouse museum, and dine at a jail-themed restaurant. The jail, by the way, is the one from which Dillinger made his famous escape using a gun carved from wood (not soap as is commonly believed)!

"The central business district has bold architectural significance," said a spokesperson for Design Organization Inc., a Valparaiso architecture firm commissioned to find buildings in Crown Point worthy of preserving. "Several major styles of American architecture from Victorian to modern can be found," he said.

Design Organization found the front of the old Lake County sheriff's home and jail at 232 S. Main St. to be an excellent example of second Empire architecture with its central tower topped with a mansard roof and bracketed cornice.

The Cheshire Hall, 103 W. Joliet, is considered a good example of the Italianate style, and the columnated People's State Bank Building, 138 S. Main, brings a touch of Neoclassical style to the downtown square.

The study classified the Masonic Temple, 213 S. Main St., as an outstanding building in the district because the brick structure has been little altered since it was built in 1919.

The greatest attraction is the carefully restored courthouse with its historical museum, basement of shops, and summer theatre in the county council chambers on the third floor.

Drive down Court Street to the Fairgrounds for a look at some fine stately old mansions. An immense County Fair takes place here the first weekend of August.

As evidenced by its recent success in achieving historic designation for the downtown area, Crown Point Indiana has one of the most progressive attitudes toward historic preservation in the region, as well as some of the best kept historic homes.

Storefronts, many of them historic, line the four streets surrounding the courthouse.

The impressive Allman Block Building (1891), corner of Clark and Main streets.


This and the four pictures below are of buildings on Main St., just South of the courthouse.

The beautiful Carnegie Center, originally the Crown Point Library, established with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation.

The Carnegie Library is still owned and being used as office space for the Crown Point Community Library.  Due to the "Americans with Disabilities" regulations the upstairs cannot be used for meetings so those areas have been made into staff office areas.  The lower level of the Carnegie opens to the 1972 addition of the public area and contains the meeting room and the periodical room.

Lake County Criminal Court Building, which has recently been reopened and now houses offices.


Victorian splendor distinguishes the Crown Point Sheriff's house, under renovation by the Old Sheriff's House Foundation of Indiana. Scaffolding used during renovations is visible in this photo. The Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council has donated plastering, carpentry, electrical, roofing and other work.

Built in 1882, the house is an example of the Second Empire style, distinguished by the deeply sloping mansard roofs.

A large jail building was built onto the back of the Sheriff's house in 1926. The large chimney belongs to the jailhouse. The building is best known as the jail from which the notorious John Dillinger escaped in 1934.

Click picture above for a view of the well-preserved upstairs corridor of this building.

People's Bank building on the Courthouse Square. Erected in 1910, the bank was one of many that closed during the Depression. It housed a variety of businesses over the years, but for the past twenty it was used by county and city government, or was vacant.

A preservation-minded developer purchased the building and restored it to much of its architectural grandeur. "It needs a new heating and cooling system, new roof and new windows and some of the plumbing will have to be replaced," he said during rennovations, "but I intend to maintain its beauty, and to keep the grand hall," the building's huge lobby. "It is a full two stories high, with a two story mezzanine adjoining it. The exterior is of cut limestone. It's a wonderful example of the architecture of that era."

The third floor contains six offices, "each with at least three windows facing west or south," he said. The Greater Crown Point Chamber of Commerce has been compiling historical data about the building to help apply for federal landmark status.


Finally, a picture of Crown Point's most famous building and the centerpiece of the city, the Crown Point courthouse.


To visit downtown Crown Point, from Rt. 231 exit off I-65, go west two miles to Main, then south.

Photos by Timothy Arends


Historic Homes of Crown Point

(Five Images)

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