by Nancy McCammon-Hansen
As summer gets into full swing, finding something for the kids to do (and those kids can be of any size and age) can sometimes be a challenge. Since the weather is beautiful, it’s time to get out of the house and explore your city.
In 1978, Clifford Richards and Pat Boice published an article in the Old Fort News entitled “Two Hour Tour of Fort Wayne Historical Sites”. We offer here a brief overview of the first part of this trip as something to do that will allow you to learn more about the city in which you live.
Begin at the Swinney Homestead on West Jefferson where Jefferson and Washington make the split and become two one-way streets. This home of the Swinney Family was once the home of the Historical Society. The Settlers maintain this property and offer events throughout the year. You can keep up with the Settlers via their website at: http://www.settlersinc.org/.
|The front of the Swinney House.|
|A historical marker on the site.|
|Cabin on the property.|
|Another historical marker.|
Then head down Thieme Drive toward Main. Stop along the way at the marker for the Old Methodist College. OMC was once the center of education in northeast Indiana. In 1893 it moved to Upland, IN and became Taylor University. The marker is right by the river and very close to the turn for Wayne Street.
As you look across the St. Mary’s River, you’re looking at the Camp Allen Area where young men were trained for battle in the Civil War. Camp Allen Park was the location of the first professional baseball game ever played on May 4, 1871. Fort Wayne won. See http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/camp-allen-park-play-ball.html for more information.
As you come to the intersection of Thieme Drive and West Main, you will see the Aqueduct Marker. This monument, one of a number in Fort Wayne, is dedicated to the young men who swam in the Old Aqueduct. According to the OFN article, “The Aqueduct was a huge covered wooden structure which carried the waters of the Wabash and Erie Canal across the St. Mary’s River. It was located where you now see the bridge of the Norfolk and Western Railroad crossing the St. Mary’s River.”
|Statue on West Main just to the east of the Carole Lombard bridge.|
|This plaque lists members of the Aqueduct Club.|
On the corner of Main and Union, you will see the house where actress Carole Lombard was born. Don’t know who Carole Lombard was? Read this blog post from Tom Castaldi: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/jane-alice-peters-aka-carole-lombard.html
Drive on down Main Street to the corner of Main and Van Buren. The Rockhill House once stood on this site, the hotel where Stephen Douglas stayed in his campaign visit to Fort Wayne on October 2, 1860. See http://www.aroundfortwayne.com/blog/2008/10/02/148-years-ago-tonday/ for a little more information about this event or The Old Fort News article “The Douglas Has Come!” Stephen A. Douglas and the Presidential Campaign of 1860 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. John D. Beatty. 72:2, 2009, 18 pages.
Turn left onto Van Buren, crossing the railroad tracks, and continuing about two blocks. Here you’ll find the site of the first French fort, established around 1700 as Fort Miami and a historical marker noting this. For more on this site, see http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/signs-of-history-times.html
It’s easiest at this point to turn around and take Van Buren to Superior Street, turning left. A little way down on your left (about a block to Fulton) will be a large grey house with white pillars. This was once the home of Hugh McCulloch, the father of modern banking. McCulloch was Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, Johnson and Arthur. His home once faced the Wabash and Erie Canal. Learn more about McCulloch at http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-father-of-modern-banking-hailed.html
|The McCulloch House|
|The McCulloch Family|
As you travel on down Superior Street to the east, you can turn right on Ewing (which becomes Fairfield) and then left on Main. At the southwest corner of Main and Webster is the Edsall House. Built in 1839, it’s considered the oldest structure still standing in central Fort Wayne. William Edsall was the original owner and after his death, the house became Fort Wayne City Hospital, the precursor of Parkview.
|The Edsall House is now the offices for the Home Builders Assn. of Fort Wayne.|
From there, continue on Main to Calhoun and turn left. Travel north to Superior Street, turn right and stop one-half block on the south at the Canal House. You can learn more about the canal… and another idea for a day trip from Tom Castaldi’s blog post http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2011/05/take-drive-on-route-of-wabash-erie.html
|The Canal House on Superior Street|
|Take your own photos and compare them to the ones in this book.|