A journey back to the Elkhart County Home

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED This photo shows the Elkhart County Home that was built in 1886. Built using Gothic Revival architecture, the building had more than 113 rooms to care for people who were disabled, orphaned, elderly and many other issues.

BRISTOL — The Elkhart County Historical Museum will be presenting the “Places of Elkhart: The Elkhart County Home” program Feb. 22 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Elkhart County Historical Museum, 304 W. Vistula St.

This program will document the more than 100 year history of the Elkhart County Home. The first county home opened north of Goshen in 1845 and was part of a movement across the United States to provide a place for people who had mental issues, physically disabled, elderly, orphaned, poor and a variety of other special needs, county museum officials said.

These facilities provided free room, board and treatment and in return residents worked a nearby farm.

In 1886, the Elkhart County Home moved locations and opened a new facility. “The Elkhart County Home built in 1886 was a 113-room facility that also held a hospital, beauty shop and recreation area,” said Curator of Education Patrick McGuire. “The building was located along U.S. 33 in between Goshen and Elkhart, and was an iconic building that many people still remember to this day.”

This program also chronicles the fight in the 1960s and '70s between the public and county officials over the closing of the facility, and future of the building. A grassroots group led by Marjory Madlem advocated for the building to be saved for its architectural elements and history. But after years of debate, county officials voted and had the building demolished in the early 1980s.

The program is free and open to the public. This is the second in the “Places of Elkhart” series, which will feature a program every month in 2018. A schedule of upcoming events and other information, can be found at www.elkhartcountyhistory.org or by calling the museum at 574-848-4322.

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