2008 Hoosier Heritage Pilgrimage
Friday & Saturday, August 15-16, 2008
South Bend and Culver, Indiana
by Nelson Price
“Fall” is creative license for the overnight
(two-day) pilgrimage that twenty-four Pioneers and their
guests enjoyed to historic sites – as well as two legendary campuses – in
South Bend and Culver, Indiana. The trip was August 15-16,
earlier than usual for a fall pilgrimage, so that tours
of the University of Notre Dame and Culver Military Academy could be
accommodated before the hectic activity of fall semester classes.
late summer tour dates also enabled the Pioneers to enjoy
a special treat, a cruise around scenic Lake Maxinkuckee aboard The
Ledbetter, the three-mast ship used to train Culver cadets to sail.
The trip began in Indianapolis,
where the motor coach from Sunrise Tours picked up the
Pioneers, guests, and other travelers. En route, pilgrimage chairman
Nelson Price provided commentary about famous people and sites
associated with South Bend and Culver. The first stop
in South Bend was historic Tippecanoe Place, the renovated mansion of
Clement Studebaker, eldest of the five brothers who became world renowned
for their wagons, and, later, their cars.
Built in 1889, Tippecanoe Place today is a gourmet restaurant
that features original furnishings and photos of the Studebaker Brothers,
the largest employer in South Bend for generations. After
a luncheon at Tippecanoe Place and a presentation about its history
by the waiter (if requested by patrons, waiters are prepared to make
presentations), the Pioneers toured the mansion-turned-restaurant and
its grounds. Tippecanoe Place has 40 rooms, 20 fireplaces and intricate
The next stop was another stunning historic
landmark, the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown
South Bend. It’s
a massive, restored vaudeville palace that was known
as the Palace Theater when it opened in 1922. The lavish
theater and lobby have fabulous chandeliers, balconies,
and frescoes. Much of the theater complex is French in design, patterned
after Versailles. (It was built for $ 1 million in the early 1920s;
now its value is estimated at more than $100 million.) After World War
II, the theater gradually declined and was headed for the wrecking ball
in the late 1950s when Mrs. Morris, a South Bend civic leader, rescued
it by buying the theater and selling it to the city. The Morris has
had several renovations since then; today, it is the concert hall of
the South Bend Symphony and hosts touring productions as well as concerts
by performers such as Tony Bennett.
The Pioneers also toured the magnificent, adjacent ballroom,
which at one point was in even worse shape than the theater.
The ballroom had been the venue for performances by bandleaders
such as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey; during World War
II, it became a service center, a USO for returning GIs.
It closed in 1969 amid extensive disrepair, but reopened after a restoration
that began in 2001 and has totaled $6.5 million.
The Pioneers then visited the Northern Indiana
Center for History in South Bend, which had a special
exhibit featuring fashion design. The center also has a permanent
exhibit about legendary Fighting Irish football coach
Knute Rockne. While half of the Pioneers toured the Northern
Indiana Center for History, the other half toured the mansion of another
well-known family, the Olivers. A Scottish immigrant who founded what
became the world’s
largest plow factory, James Oliver built his Queen Anne-style
mansion in 1896 and 1897.
Then the entire group of Pioneers reunited for self-guided
tours through South Bend’s new attraction, the relocated and extensively
upgraded Studebaker Museum. The new museum has a vast
array of Studebaker products, from wagons and carriages
to roadsters, sleighs and funeral hearses.
Among the eye-catching vintage
cars on display is the Studebaker Hawk. The crown jewel
of the museum, however, is the Lincoln carriage that transported President
and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford’s
Theater on the night of his assassination. Built by Studebaker
Brothers, the Lincoln carriage was purchased and presented
to President Lincoln as a gift by the people of New York
the Studebaker Museum, the Pioneers took a short stop
at to unload luggage, then rode the motor coach to the small town of
New Carlisle, Indiana, for dinner at a historic bed & breakfast.
The Inn of the Old Republic in New Carlisle was built
in 1861 and also once faced demolition; it was saved
and renovated by the community of New Carlisle, helped
by Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. The Pioneers enjoyed a
catered dinner in the B & B,
followed by an informal talk by a local preservationist.
the Pioneers returned to the overnight lodging spot,
the Ivy Court in South Bend. Managed by Pioneer board member Bob Dora
of Dora Brothers, the Ivy Court is located across the street from part
of the Notre Dame campus.
next morning, the Pioneers visited Notre Dame for a delightful
walking tour. A well-informed tour guide showed off the campus of 1,250
acres and 8,300 students. Sites on the tour included the Alumni Center
and the Student Center as well as the world-famous Golden Dome on the
Administration (Main) Building. The Pioneers toured the interior of
the Main Building, which has magnificent artwork and woodwork.
That was followed by a tour of
the Basilica at Notre Dame. The Pioneers initially had
been told that the Basilica would be unavailable to visit – three weddings were
planned for that day – but
the group was able to be accommodated. The stained glass
features were unforgettable.
Next up was another spiritual
site: a serene area on campus known as The Grotto where
students and faculty go to seek reflection. With its distinctive array
of candles, The Grotto was the setting for a pivotal scene
in the movie “Rudy”,
which was filmed at Notre Dame in 1992.
From Notre Dame,.
the Pioneers boarded the motor coach and road to the
town of Culver. After lunch at the City Tavern, the group toured Culver
Military Academy, the nationally known prep school on Lake Maxinkuckee.
According to the Pioneers’ excellent
guide – Alan
Loehr, Culver’s alumni director and tennis coach – the
academy has 792 students, of which 330 are girls. Culver
was founded in 1894 as a training school for future world
leaders, not military leaders; the school merely uses
military-style instructional techniques.
The group toured the chapel at Culver, then
learned about its nationally renowned Black Horse Patrol
and hockey team. Following that was a rare treat: The Pioneers boarded
the Ledbetter, the three-mast ship that’s seldom made available
to the general public. The Ledbetter is 60 feet from
bow to stern.
the Pioneers cruised around Lake Maxinkuckuee, the second
largest natural lake in the state, Alan Loehr described the family histories
associated with spacious homes on the lake. After the cruise, the Pioneers
enjoyed a reception at one of the houses, the summer home of civic leader
(and lifetime Pioneers member) Richard Ford, who hosted the 2007 Spring
Pilgrimage in his hometown of Wabash.
At his Culver home, Mr. Ford oversaw his staff
as they served wine and hors d’oeuvres to the Pioneers, who relaxed
inside and outside as well as by his pier. The travelers ended
their stay in Culver by posing for a group photo on Mr.
lawn in late afternoon Saturday. Then the Pioneers re-boarded
the motor coach to return to Indianapolis, concluding
a memorable two days.