The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 9.


Time Has Not Been Kind To Many of County's Old Homes; Saw Better Days

The house on Willow street just off Washington behind the A. H. Reading residence is a close second in age to the W. J. Morris property on Institute street, and follows the same colonial lines.

It was built by G. Z. Salyer, who came to Valparaiso in 1835. He was the grandfather of Don Lytle, Elijah Wood, Read Salyer, Miss Fidelia Salyer and Mrs. Grace Helvie. Contrary to what is true of many of the first settlers, his descendants still live in Valparaiso.

The house in question stood until recent years on the corner of Washington and Jefferson streets. Its barn and garden stretching south and west to the middle of the block. It was shaded by one of the handsomest oak trees in the town. As the town grew business houses encroached on its domain to the south, and some twenty-five years ago the Methodist parsonage, a long brick building, was moved to the west of the house. For many years Judge Johnston had his offices in the south parlors of the dwelling. John Mavity finally bought the corner for his three-story brick building, and the old home was moved to its present site.

It has met with a happier fate than the old Suman house on LaPorte Road and the Farrington home at the corner of Garfield and Linwood avenues, which are being gradually dismantled by vandals. The Farrington home marked the turn of the Old Sac Trail, which crossed the intervening blocks diagonally to reach the headlong slope down Lincolnway at the corner of Greenwich.

The Ruel Starr home, now owned by Chris Bornholt, is another reminder of the elegant mansions of the 1860.s, the earliest of these mansions, for it was built in 1859. It was the largest brick house that had been erected up to that time and was much more ornate than the homes around it. Bay windows added light to its large stately rooms. For a few years a numerous family enjoyed the home, but, as the graves in the Old City cemetery testify, tragedy overtook the household. The older daughter attending school in New York City, died; four sons, Noah, Caleb, Octavius and Augustus, prepared by Rev. J. C. Brown for Ann Arbor, died in young manhood.

For a number of years after the death of her husband, Mrs. Starr lived in the home with her daughter, Mrs. James McGill, and her interesting family. At present her descendants are residents of Washington, D. C.

The first kindergarten in Valparaiso organized by Mrs. Ray, met in the McGill parlors.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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