Downtown Memories

Some of the city’s earliest memories were forged in the buildings dotting the Crawfordsville Commercial Historic District.

They are the tales of a German-born beer producer who opened a brewery and saloon for thirsty hotel guests next door.

There was the local hero from the War of 1812 who entered the banking business with a future senator who married his daughter.

And there was the Republican newspaper that waged a blistering war with its Democratic rival, eventually making peace with a joint masthead.

“The ape is so affected with rabies that the sight of water throws him into convulsions. Nothing but whiskey will quiet his nerves,” Republican Journal publisher Jere Keeney wrote of the Review’s C.H. Bowen.

Bowen retorted, “[Keeney] should be passed by with total indifference, and regarded only as a canker, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle upon the body of a depaved humanity which purity should shun as a pestilence.”

The district covers 139 buildings in the central business area, anchored by the 141-year-old courthouse. It includes much of the city’s original 1823 plat.

The area is bounded by North Street on the north, Water Street on the east, Wabash Avenue on the south and Walnut Street on the west.

Some of the properties are significant enough to have their own listing on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Montgomery County Jail & Sheriff’s Residence (Rotary Jail Museum) and the Otto Schlemmer Building, which housed the brewery and saloon.

One of the oldest is the Hanna-Graham Building, which dates back to the 1830s. It’s now home to heathcliff.

As many as half of the district’s buildings went up before 1880, when the city entered a period of rapid growth.

Among the buildings in the district are:

• U.S. Post Office, 300 E. Main (1940)

• Commercial Building, 101-105 E. Main St. (circa 1875) — Formerly home to men’s clothing store W.C. Murphy, Crawfordsville Trust Co. and The Golden Rule, the building is now Allen’s Country Kitchen, PRKD Properties and Abbey Elaine Photography. 

• Elston Bank, 201-203 E. Main (1869) — Elston was established by Major Isaac C. Elston and Henry S. Lane, and is one of the state’s oldest banks. After offices moved, the building was home to the Bank Cigar Store, various merchants, a barbershop and Western Union office.  Scaggs and Largent Screenprinting, Signs and Graphics now occupies the building.

• Ben Hur Life Building, 227 E. Main (1912) — Home to the Supreme Tribe of Ben Hur, a fraternal organization and mutual life insurance company, and other offices.

• Municipal Building, 300 E. Pike St. (1933) — The offices for the City of Crawfordsville.

• Young Mens Christian Association, 201 E. Pike St. (c. 1920) — The YMCA stayed nine years, when the site became a township house. It is now an apartment building.

• Masonic Temple, 215 S. Washington St. (1902) — The third home of the Montgomery Lodge, which also rents the facility for community events.

• Carnegie Library, 222 S. Washington St. (1902) — Home to Crawfordsville District Public Library until 2005. The building was connected to the neighboring Davis Garage. The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County later took over the building.

• Montgomery County Courthouse, 100 N. Washington St. (1876) — The county’s third courthouse, unique for being built on a quarter block surrounded by commercial buildings, instead of an entire block.

• The Journal Building, 119 S. Green St. (1893) — Offices for the Crawfordsville Journal, until the merger with the Crawfordsville Review in 1929. The building now houses Green Street Gallery. 

• Monon Railroad Depot, North Street (1926) — A passenger depot for the railroad nicknamed The Hoosier Line, the only tracks entirely situated in Indiana.

Information compiled from the National Register of Historic Places.

Canoe race interest building

Enthusiasm is starting to build for the May 20 Friends of Sugar Creek Canoe Race. 

The race, which was canceled last year, has been given new life by the Friends of Sugar Creek. Local residents are being asked to participate in the novice races.

“We have had some new people who have never raced before that have already registered,” Montgomery County Visitors Bureau Director Heather Shirk said. “The information about the race is getting a lot of traffic hits on our website. We are hoping the community will join the race and help us bring back a great county event.”

FSC president Cindy Woodall is race director. She has been in constant contact with the United States Canoe Association, which is the sanctioning body for the race, to ensure the race is run properly. The local group is organizing a large community effort to make sure the event is a quality race and one that will encourage people to come back to enjoy the creek.

Montgomery County Emergency Assistant Director Brian Campbell is recruiting volunteers to help with the race to ensure safety for participants and fans. He reported the Department of Natural Resources officers are excited to participate. The DNR is providing three officers who will patrol the creek during the race in DNR watercraft. They also will use the race as a test for some recently acquired radio communication devices.

Campbell said the New Market Volunteer Fire Department will provide two canoes to act as chase canoes that will remain behind the paddlers in case someone needs assistance.

Safety check points will be manned along the 15.5 mile race course that will begin at Sugar Creek Campground and end at Clements Canoes next to the Deers Mill Bridge.

Woodall said the organizers are providing packets of information to each racer. Inside the water proof bag will be a map of the creek, information about the creek, a safety whistle and a Friends of Sugar Creek Canoe Race hat.

Also included in the bag will be information where fans can watch the race. Ideal sites to cheer on the paddlers will be the Sugar Creek Trailhead, Davis Bridge, Black Creek Valley Bridge and the banks at Deers Mill. Instructions on parking and fan safety will be available at the registration table.

One bridge the committee will not want fans to assemble on is State Road 32 West due to safety concerns. 

The committee is starting to recruit more local participation in this year’s race. The novice classification is for anyone ages five to adult. There are strict requirements for youth paddlers such as they must be accompanied by an adult and must always be wearing a personal flotation device. Organizers are hoping manufacturers, athletic teams, businesses and other groups will decide to participate in the race.

“We want people to come out and have a good time,” Woodall said. “You do not have to be a professional paddler to enjoy the race. We think the more local people who want to join the race will make it a lot more fun.”

Registration will be open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. where all paddlers must check in and pick up their goodie bag and boat identification labels. After a 1 p.m. safety briefing, recreational paddlers will start at 1:15 p.m. and USCA paddlers will start at 1:30 p.m.   

An awards ceremony will be held at Clement’s Canoes near Deers Mill Bridge at approximately 4:30 p.m. 

Registration fees are $20 for USCA entries; $10 for recreational adults; and $5 for ages 5-18. There is no charge for retired military and active military personnel. Canoes or kayaks can be rented from either Clement’s Canoes or Sugar Creek Campground if needed. There will be a shuttle service provided by the Crawfordsville Park and Recreation Department for paddlers who need a ride back to the starting location.

For more information about the race classifications and other information, visit www.visitmoco.com. Registrations can also be found on the website.

County in Crisis

Heroin and opioid abuse is nearing crisis proportions in Montgomery County. 

Emergency and law enforcement personnel are seeing the increase of abuse, and it even became a topic in local politics during the last election. The worst statistic is the number of heroin overdoses and deaths that are occurring on a regular basis all over the county.

Heroin is classified as an opioid. Opioids also include powerful legal pain relievers such as Hydrocodone, Morphine and Fentanyl. Taken in large quantities, these drugs produce a feeling of euphoria. All opioids can lead to a fatal overdose.

Darren Foreman is a Crawfordsville Fire Department paramedic and the Montgomery County Coroner. He has served the community since 1993. He believes there is good reason for the community to be alarmed. Foreman said two years ago the number of heroine overdoses numbered one or two per week. He said now local emergency management personnel see up to five cases per week on the average. When a bad batch of heroin is an area, he said it is not unusual to have up to 10 overdoses in a week.

“I believe we are nearing a crisis in heroin abuse,” Foreman said. “Unless the person dies, I only see the cases my shift deals with. Right now, it seems to be the drug of choice with a lot of people.”

The old belief that drug abuse is found only in certain socio-economic classes is false, Foreman said. He has attended to overdose cases that vary across the socio-economic spectrum — from the poorest to the most affluent, heroin abuse is not selective. Every age group includes heroin addicts. As coroner, Foreman has been called to homes of residents in their 60’s to younger teenagers.

“The abuse is bridging all age groups,” Foreman said. “It seems to be playing out that heroin addiction is worse then being addicted to meth.”

These ramifications of this abuse can be seen in the local emergency room as well as increasing costs to law enforcement agencies. The legal system also is impacted, which means more tax dollars are needed at every level.

The Montgomery County Health Department has launched an educational campaign. Through the Montgomery County Drug Task Force, the health department is working to inform residents about how heroin affects so many families and individuals. 

Within the last week, a new billboard was placed along East Wabash Avenue. It proclaims the county is ranked ninth out of 92 Indiana counties in its residents being at risk for opioid abuse. The billboard is more than a sign to the health department and emergency personnel. It represents the new battle about to take place to stop the problem of heroin and opioid abuse.

Samantha Swearingen is the health education director at the local health department. She is a member of the drug task force and is working with several agencies to help educate the public about the current crisis.

“Our goal is to first raise public awareness about the opioid problem including the rise of heroin abuse,” Swearingen said. “From our prospective as a health department, we know heroin is our main problem because. It is less expensive and easy to obtain on Crawfordsville streets. We are seeing less prescription opioid abuse, but the heroin abuse is growing.”

Mikek named Indiana Academic All-Star

INDIANAPOLIS —Forty high school seniors from throughout Indiana have been named 2017 Indiana Academic All-Stars, a program of the Indiana Association of School Principals, and were honored at a luncheon Tuesday at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. In addition, 50 other students were recognized as Academic All-Star Regional Honorees.

Crawfordsville High School’s Benjamin Mikek was among those students selected as an All-Star.

The students were selected from a field of 264 outstanding nominees from the state’s private and public accredited schools.

Academic All-Star distinction recognizes seniors who excel in the classroom first and foremost, but who also are actively involved in their schools and communities, and take on leadership roles in those activities. The program is produced by the Indiana Association of School Principals, with support provided by Franklin College, Marian University, Indiana University Bloomington and Purdue University, along with corporate partners Herff Jones, IndyStar.com and Inter-State Studio and Publishing Co.

Each nominated student submits an essay recognizing his or her most influential educator. For the past several years, Franklin College has sponsored two Influential Educator Awards and this year honored retired elementary teacher Brenda Carter, who was recognized by Indiana Academic All-Star Sidra Ahmad of Plainfield High School, and North Decatur Jr./Sr. High School (Greensburg) Spanish teacher Jennifer Robbins, nominated by Indiana Academic All-Star Regional honoree Kelsey Moorman. Each teacher received $1,000.

Additionally, $500 teacher awards were presented by the Marian University Academy for Teaching and Learning to Floyd Central High School (Floyds Knobs) teacher Karen Mayer-Sebastian, who was nominated by Indiana Academic All-Star Carson Conley, and Greencastle Schools Technology Integrator, Charles Shields, who was nominated by Indiana Academic All-Star Nicholas Seaman.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick provided a welcome and congratulatory words to the students and


The IASP Indiana Academic All-Stars program salutes academic excellence in the same manner that student athletes traditionally are honored. By providing a showcase for academically talented seniors, the sponsoring organizations hope to accomplish the following objectives:

• Give academic achievement the prestige it deserves;

• Motivate students to recognize the value of academic excellence; 

• Provide students with an incentive for academic achievement; and 

• Promote a positive image of Indiana’s young people.

Each public and private high school accredited by the Indiana Department of Education may nominate one senior for consideration as an Indiana Academic All-Star. From these nominees, a selection committee chose the Regional winners (representing five regions in Indiana) and the 40 Indiana Academic All-Stars.

Selection of the school’s nominee is based upon the following considerations:

• A mathematical formula that combines the SAT or ACT composite score and the seven-semester grade-point average; and

• Academic achievements and honors, academic courses and academic extracurricular activities.

• Other extracurricular activities, community service and leadership qualities.

Covington to host IHS’s History on Wheels exhibit

COVINGTON — Covington will be among the first stops for a one-of-a-kind history experience dedicated to Indiana’s automotive and racing heritage. The Indiana Historical Society is proud to present History on Wheels, a 53-foot double expandable semi-trailer and traveling exhibit that will roll into Covington City Park, June 28 through July 1, for the Covington Fourth of July Celebration.

The appearance will be one of many for History on Wheels as it begins to travel the state and help IHS reach a wider audience at festivals, schools and other special events.

“For decades, the Indiana Historical Society has dedicated resources to giving people a way to experience and enjoy Indiana history in their own communities,” said John A. Herbst, IHS president and CEO. “History on Wheels allows us to expand on this critical part of our mission. As the only traveling exhibit of its kind in the state, it is a new way to experience history.”

History on Wheels has a custom design that allows the trailer to expand to nearly 1,000 square feet of indoor museum space. Inside the trailer, IHS’s Auto Indiana exhibit will take guests on a ride through the state’s far-reaching and personal connections to the auto industry.

Displays touch on the history of more than 100 Indiana automakers manufacturers, such as Cord, Duesenberg and Studebaker. They also delve into the lives of Hoosier innovators and inventors, such as Carl Fisher, Elwood Haynes and Ralph Teetor.

Visitors of all ages can explore under the hood of a vehicle modeled after a 1914 Marmon Touring Car. In addition, children can climb into the driver’s seat of a mini IndyCar and imagine what it would be like to cross the famed Yard of Bricks.

IHS will launch History on Wheels on May 6 with free admission and extended hours in honor of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Visit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the parking lot of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located across the street from the Mini post-race party.

From May 7 through 13, History on Wheels will remain at the History Center and will be included with admission to the Indiana Experience (free for IHS members). The History Center’s regular operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

History on Wheels is presented by IHS, with support in part from Lilly Endowment Inc. For reservation fees and booking information, contact Mark McNees, IHS History on Wheels coordinator, at 317-234-2029 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More event locations and details are available on IHS’s website, www.indianahistory.org/HistoryonWheels.