ELKHART — The Board of Directors of the Ruthmere Foundation Inc. approved expenditures for the first phase of preserving a historic property adjacent to the Havilah Beardsley House. Referred to as the “Beardsley Carriage House,” and located to the immediate north of the Havilah Beardsley House at 819 N. Main St., this structure once served as a 19th century agricultural support building for the original Beardsley Farm.
In 1922, this land and structure were parceled off and sold to owners separate from the main house, according to information provided by the foundation. Successive owners converted the agricultural building into a residence, passing through six different owners until the present day.
On July 9, 2020, this structure was severely damaged by fire, which made it unlivable as a residence. Through a feasibility study funded Efroymson Family Grant administered through Indiana Landmarks, the owner learned that the building was indeed salvageable, but would require significant work to make it a usable building meeting code requirements. After a short amicable negotiation, the owner agreed to sell the property to the Ruthmere Foundation Inc. The organization’s Board of Directors has consistently moved toward saving and preserving this piece of Elkhart history and bringing these two historic properties together again, foundation officials said.
While a final purpose for how Ruthmere Campus will utilize the Beardsley Carriage House is yet to be determined, foundation officials said, the impact will be consistent with the organization’s mission and strategic plan.
A public support campaign will be announced later in 2021 when the use function is finalized. However, a lead gift of $50,000 has already been committed to the project from the estate of John D. Kistner, who lived in both the Havilah Beardsley House and the converted residence of the Beardsley Carriage House during his youth. Interested patrons wishing to join the Kistner family in support of this project may contact Executive Director Bill Firstenberger at 574-264-0330.