Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum Twilight Tour – Benefit for the Adopt an Ash Program

The Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum Twilight Tour will be held on Saturday, October 21st at 5:30pm. Tickets are $15.00 and can be ordered via Pay Pal at vchshistory.org, via the link below, or you can pay in person the night of the event. Sign in tables will be located at the Veterans Plaza just inside the main gate of the cemetery. This tour is only the second of its kind in the 164 year existence of Oak Hill Cemetery and will feature LIVE RE-ENACTORS. You can learn more about how you can help in the fight against Emerald Ash Borer in Evansville by visiting evansville.adoptanash.org.

For questions, please email VCHS Board Member and Cemetery Superintendent Chris Cooke at ccooke@evansville.in.gov.

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Evansville Historic Preservation Month Information


Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development, Preservation Alliance of Evansville, and the Reitz Home Museum present a full slate of lectures, tours, activities, and events. 

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Linda Eales, Samara Trust

Associate Curator

Saturday, May 28, 11a.m. Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. First St.

“Usonian architecture

 and SAMARA”

     Samara, the home of John and Catherine Christian, is the Usonian style house in West Lafayette designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  In 1956 when this house was erected, Evansville’s William Wesley Peters was Wright’s primary assistant.

    Eales’ program covers the fascinating story behind this home.  She will discuss the signature architectural innovations of Wright’s design found here.  The Usonian architectural style, of which this is an example, will also be explained.

    Considered a premier example of Wright’s work, Samara is now listed as a National Landmark.

   After Ms. Eales program, Preservation Alliance of Evansville, will announce its Preservation Awards.

Post-Program Tour of

Peters-Margedant House

     Saturday, May 28, 1:30p.m.-3:00p.m. Located at 1506 E. Indiana Street.  The Peters-Margedant House, a Usonian prototype designed and built by Evansville native and Frank Lloyd Wright protégé William Wesley Peters, will be open for tours.  This little home has nearly all of the features that Wright later incorporated in his Usonian design.

Haynie’s Corner First Friday Walk

     Friday, May 6, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Gather in front of the Alhambra Theatre, 50 Adams Ave.  Haynie’s Corner has become a vibrant neighborhood in our city that is celebrated on the First Fridays of the month.  Learn about this area as its fascinating history and unique and varied architecture are highlighted and explained.  The history and architecture of the building now housing some of the city’s most popular restaurants will be special features.  Guide: Larry Bristow

Bayard Park Tour

     Monday, May 16, RESCHEDULED Tuesday, May 24, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Tour originates at East Branch Library, 840 E. Chandler Ave.  Mrs. Samuel Bayard’s gift of ten acres in 1901 signaled development of the park.  There are superb representation of early 20th century architectural styles found around the park – Prairie, Georgian Revival, Bungalow, American Foursquare, and Tudor.  Guide: Dennis M. Au 

Lamasco: Evansville’s Other Historic City

    Tuesday, May 17 RESCHEDULED Wednesday, May 24, 6:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Walking tour starts from Dairy Queen parking lot, 901 W. Franklin St. parking lot.  Lamasco was platted as a rival independent city to the north and west of Evansville in 1837.  Though it merged with Evansville in 1857, the area still has special character.  See homes, businesses, and churches that give this part of town its lasting unique personality. Guide: Joseph Engler 

Downtown Transportation History

    Thursday, May 19, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Meet at N.W. Fourth and Vine Streets – south corner of the Old Courthouse.  As Evansville evolved through history, the downtown always was the transportation hub of the region.  Here there were steamboats, canal boats, trains, trolley cars, and this was the place where the community was introduced to the ‘horseless-carriage.’ See the places and buildings that still recall these eras of our past.  Guide: Dennis M. Au

Riverside Neighborhood: 21st Century

QR Code Walking Tour

     Saturday, May 21, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Gather at Reitz Home Carriage House 224 S.E. First Street.  Enter the 21st Century with this groundbreaking tour!  Mr. Jon Carl’s Reitz High School ‘Feel the History’ class researched and produced thirty-six video histories of homes in the Riverside District.  What brings this into the 21st century is that you can access these histories on your smart phone through QR codes!  Tour starts with Mr. Carl giving a history of the project and instruction on how to access the videos on your smart phone.  Next, Mr. Au will take the group on a short walk.  This will be a combination of the traditional tour-guide’s presentation and opportunities for you to access the appropriate videos on your phone.  Tour Guides: Jon Carl and Dennis M. Au

Oak Hill Cemetery

     Sunday, May 22, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Tour departs from the veteran’s memorial to the right of the main entrance. Two walking tours will be offered simultaneously – one featuring the 19th century section of the cemetery and the other the 20th century portion. This year, at one stop on each tour, history will come back to life, with a costumed actor portraying a noted person buried in the cemetery.  Each tour features Evansville history and biography and touches on the tombstone art and symbolism.  You will see why Oak Hill Cemetery richly deserves to be on the National Register of Historic Places.  Guides: Jane Davies and Dennis M. Au; Costumed portrayals: Malania Ripley and Chris Ripley

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum: Centennial Tour
Tuesday, May 10, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m. Starts on the front steps of the Coliseum, 350 Court St.  A century ago, construction started on the Coliseum, one of downtown Evansville’s monumental pieces of architecture.  In addition to a walk around the building, this includes a tour of the fascinating treasurers of the interior.  Celebrate the centennial of this Evansville Landmark! Guides: Shelia Acker, Mark Acker, Barbara Kortz, and Dennis M. AuSoldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum: Centennial Tour

Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse – County Legal History Museum Tour

    Sunday, May 15, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Gather in the main rotunda on the first floor of the building. Guided tour begins in the legal history museum and the restored Superior Courtroom. The Vanderburgh County Bar Association recently assembled this interpretive museum and restored the courtroom to its Victorian splendor.  After seeing the exhibit and courtroom, the tour covers both the interior and exterior of this magnificent building.  Guides:  Kristen Comer and Dennis M. Au.

Owen Block Restoration

Wednesday, May 18, 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m.  This program is scheduled for the Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. First St.  The Owen Block, a stunning 1880 Second Empire row-house fell into ruin.  With the support of grass-roots preservationists and Indiana Landmarks, award-winning restoration contractor Mike Martin of Architectural Renovators stepped forward and saved this treasure from imminent collapse.  Martin will give a contractor’s perspective on rescuing this building from stabilization to making it ready for tenants later this year.  After the talk, Martin will tour the group around the exterior of the building.

Evansville Day Presentation and Video

Evansville Day Presentation and Video

The Vanderburgh County Historical Society and the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science will sponsor a new, never before seen video of the Evansville Day Parade of June 23, 1945. The Evansville Day Parade celebrated Evansville’s contribution to the war effort during World War II.. Video footage will show military hardware and personnel, the Central High School and Lincoln High School marching bands, floats from major manufacturers in the Evansville area — Republic Aviation, Servel, Bootz Manufacturing and others — and the Evansville built USS Vanderburgh at Dress Plaza. Representatives from the VCHS and Evansville Museum will provide historical insight into this parade as part of the presentation.

This five minute color video is the first of several videos the Vanderburgh County Historical Society will be unveiling in 2016. These videos are sourced from 16 MM film donated to VCHS by the family of Janet Noelting Robinson.

The Evansville Day Parade presentation will be at 6:30 PM on Thursday, June 16, 2016 in the Koch Immersive Theater of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science at 411 S.E. Riverside Drive Evansville, Indiana 47713-1098.

Seating in the Koch Immersive Theater is limited. Please make reservations at the Evansville Museum at 812-425-2406.

Terry Hughes, President of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society

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Vanderburgh County Historical Society’s Annual Meeting



USI History Professor to Speak about Girls in WW II Era at Vanderburgh County Historical Society’s Annual Meeting

On Thursday, November 12, University of Southern Indiana Assistant Professor of History Stella Ress will present the program Close to Home: Preadolescent Girls, Radio, and World War II. This talk, presented at Willard Library, will look at children’s radio programs of WW II and their impact on girls of the era.

On October 13, 1940, the airwaves around the world filled with the voices of the young princesses of Great Britain, Elizabeth, age fourteen, and Margaret Rose, age ten. Their broadcast was meant to raise the morale of those suffering hardship as result of war. Reassuringly and with a clearand confident voice, Princess Elizabeth reported, “We children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen.” She continued solemnly, “We are trying, too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war.” Though her radio address was directed expressly to Britain’s child evacuees who took up residence outside the reach of German bombs, her messages, both stated and implied, resonated with many Americans. Thus, radio is perhaps the best medium to explore young girls’ experiences during the war, as well as their unique contributions to victory. This presentation will examine children’s radio programs of the era to better understand the experiences of girls (between the stages of preschooler and preteen) on the American Home Front, in general, while paying close attention to Vanderburgh County.

Stella A. Ress teaches U.S. history, Public History, and other topics at USI. She received her doctorate from Loyola University Chicago and has worked on a variety of public history projects, including successfully placing the Sauganash neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on the National Register of Historic Places. She has also crafted institutional histories for a variety of nonprofits, conducted oral histories for Chicago’s Erie Neighborhood House, and worked as both a consultant and curatorial assistant for the National Hellenic Museum. She has published and presented in the fields of public history, women’s and gender history, the history of children and youth, popular culture, and girlhood studies.

VCHS Annual Meeting and Dinner

5:30-6:00 Business Meeting

6:00-6:30 Cash Bar

6:30-7:30 Catered Dinner by Acropolis, $30 per person

7:30 Address by Stella Ress

$30 each for Dinner Reservations

Please visit: vchshistory.org or send checks to VCHS, P.O. Box 2626, Evansville, IN 47728-0626 by Monday, November 9.

For Lecture Reservations, for those not attending dinner, please registrar at: http://www.willard.lib.in.us/calendar_of_events/event_details.php?eventID=1267

Historian James H. Madison lecture on Two Hundred Years of Indiana

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Noted Historian to Present Overview of Indiana’s History

As a prelude to Indiana’s bicentennial celebration in 2016, noted historian James H. Madison will present the lecture Two Hundred Years of Indiana at the Evansville Museum on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:30 p.m. Madison will present an overview of our past–from Hoosier pioneers, through the Civil War, to the 21st century. His illustrated talk will highlight connections between past and present and, as we celebrate our 200th birthday, help us think about our future.
Madison is the Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor Emeritus of History, at Indiana University, Bloomington. An award-winning teacher, he has also taught at Hiroshima University, Japan, and at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Jim serves on the boards of Indiana Humanities and the Indiana Historical Society and as a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

He is the author of several books, including Eli Lilly: A Life; A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America; Slinging Doughnuts for the Boys: An American Woman in World War II. His most recent book is Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana, co-published by the Indiana Historical Society Press and Indiana University Press.

For complimentary reservations telephone the Evansville Museum at 812-425-2406.

This lecture is presented by the Vanderburgh County Historical Society and the Evansville Museum.

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Lecture to Discuss Life and Times of Benjamin Bosse


Lecture to Discuss Life and Times of Benjamin Bosse

On Thursday, August 13, 2015 6:30 p.m. at the Evansville Museum, Jeffrey A. Bosse will discuss the life and times of Benjamin Bosse.  The author of the book When Everybody Boosts Everybody Wins: The Untold Story of Evansville Mayor Benjamin Bosse, and the great-great nephew of Benjamin Bosse,.Jeff Bosse, will detail the life of the dynamic man who led the city from 1914-1922.  In his talk, Jeff Bosse will not only look at the successes of the Bosse administration, but also scandals and allegations during his time in office.

Benjamin Bosse enjoyed successful careers, as a businessman, a church leader, a politician, and a public servant.  Despite coming to Evansville penniless, by the time of his death he had been the president of more than 25 local businesses and a shareholder of more than 40, including the Evansville Courier, the Vendome Hotel and the world’s largest furniture manufacturing company.  During his terms as mayor, the city acquired Garvin Park, Bosse Field, the Coliseum, and the Market House.  He chaired the campaign to bring the University of Evansville to the City and he increased the city’s parks from 220 acres to more than 700 acres.  Benjamin Bosse was also responsible for bringing Evansville its first major north-south highway.

Jeff Bosse is a graduate of Bosse High School, Vanderbilt University and Northwestern Law School.  He has practiced corporate, real estate and estate planning law in Evansville since 1975 and is the president and founder of Bosse Title Company.  Jeff has been active in our community and his industry for many years.  He has been the president of the Evansville Museum, the United Way of Southwestern Indiana, the Vanderburgh Community Foundation and the Indiana Land Title Association.  He was the second person in the United States to receive the National Title Professional designation from the American Land Title Association and he is the recipient of the lifetime meritorious service award from the Indiana Land Title Association.

This lecture is FREE and presented in partnership with the Evansville Museum.  For questions about the program or the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, please contact VCHS President Chris Cooke at 812-455-5121 or ccooke@evansville.in.gov.

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Evansville Historic Preservation Month Activities May-June 2015


Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development, Preservation Alliance of Evansville, and the Reitz Home Museum present a full slate of lectures, tours, activities, and events.  

Preservation Keynote Address and

Display of Original William Wesley Peters Architectural Drawings

William Wesley Peters: The Evansville Years

William B. Scott, Jr., Hon. AIA

Thursday, June 11, 7:00p.m. University of Evansville; Schroeder School of Business Room 170/Smythe Lecture Hall

      This year’s Amy W. MacDonell-Randall T. Shepard Historic Preservation Lecture features respected architectural historian William B. Scott’s presentation on William Wesley Peters’ years as an architect in Evansville—1934-1936.

     Scott’s presentation introduces hundreds of pages of Peters’ groundbreaking work that sat unappreciated in the Frank Lloyd Wright archives—drawings for the Peters-Margedant House, the Jerome Salm house, the John Price House, Interstate Finance spec house, and renderings for renovating the Evansville PRESS.  The drawings reveal Evansville’s Peters to be a pioneer of Modern Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian concept.

     While in Evansville Peters married Frank Lloyd Wright’s daughter.  In 1936 he rejoined Wright and became Wright’s primary assistant—becoming the engineer behind Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, Falling Waters, Johnson Wax, and more. Peters briefly put Evansville at the cutting edge of Modern Architecture and honed his skills as the leader of Wright’s Taliesin Fellows.

     On public display for the first time this evening will be key pieces of Peters’ Evansville work.

     Mr. Scott is a founder and editor of the JOA & D:  Journal of Organic Architecture and Design a professional publication devoted to the history, development, and current influence of Wright’s Organic Architecture concepts.  He is the Secretary of the Taliesin Fellows.

North End of North Main Street

     Thursday, May 14, 5:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Walking tour starts from Bosse Field parking lot.  This new tour covers Garvin Park and Evansville’s old industrial and commercial center.  Evansville’s industrial history in the 20th century had its roots here. Guides: Joseph Engler and Jennifer Mason

 Landmark Look: Peters-Margedant House

     Saturday, May 16, 10:00a.m.-Noon. 1506 E. Indiana St. The Peters-Margedant House is key to the development of Modern architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright story. A prototype of Wright’s Usonian style, it was designed by William Wesley Peters, Wright’s unsung protégé.  See it in its original setting before it is moved to the University of Evansville and restored. Reservations: petershouselook.eventbrite.com Park: Garvinwood Baptist Church, Inglewood at E. Division St.

Midcentury Modern Architecture: Evansville’s Residential Neighborhoods

     Tuesday, May 19, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m. Tour starts at Hebron School, 4400 Bellemeade Ave.  In the 1950s and 60s a new styles of architecture took root.  The Hebron Meadows plats here has some cutting-edge local architect’s interpretations of Modern, contractor’s copies, and early variations on the Ranch style.  Guide: S. Alan Higgins

 Washington Terrace-S. Alvord Blvd. Tour

     Thursday, May 21, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Walking tour of this early 20th century development begins at 761 Alvord Boulevard.  When platted in 1909, Washington Terrace was on Evansville’s far-east side.  This beautiful boulevard features quaint Bungalows, Colonial Revivals, and English Cottages.  Guide:  Dennis M. Au

Saving Evansville: Owen Block, McCurdy Hotel, and Greyhound Bus Station

     Saturday, May, 30, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Starts at Owen Block building, Chestnut at S.E. Second Streets.  With Indiana Landmark’s help, these downtown architectural gems are being saved. Get an update on efforts to renovate them.  Tour also covers other buildings in these sections of the Riverside and Downtown historic districts.  Tour Guide: Dennis M. Au

Oak Hill Cemetery

     Sunday, May 31, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Tour departs from the veteran’s memorial to the right of the main entrance. Walk features the 19th century section of the cemetery. Nowhere else but in Evansville’s ‘city of the dead’ does history come alive as it does here–tombstone art, biography, history, and folklore. The African-American section, a sadly forgotten history, will be featured.  Guides: Jane Davies and Dennis M. Au

South End of North Main Street

     Thursday, June 18, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Tour begins at the Zesto at 102 W. Franklin St.  Jacobsville, N. Main Street’s neighborhood association has been working to improve and promote their area. Historically this was truly an extension of Main Street.  It had unique shops, businesses, and even manufacturing facilities – with some fine residences.  Learn the history, see the architecture, and be a part of the revitalization.  Guides:  Joseph Engler and Jennifer Mason

Special Activities and Presentations

Building the Past: A Survey of Evansville’s Early Architecture

    Wednesday, May 13, Noon-1:30p.m. Browning Gallery, Willard Library.  Willard Archivist Pat Sides presents historic images of Evansville’s early buildings, many which are now gone.  Images are newly scanned and have not be generally seen by the public.

Reitz Home Free Admission Day

   Sunday, May 17, 1:00p.m.-3:00p.m. Evansville’s Victorian jewel, the Reitz Home, 224 S.E. 1st St., offers free admission in observance of Preservation Month.

 100 Years of Vintage Clothing

  Wednesday, May 20, 7:00p.m.-8:30p.m. Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. First St.  Jennifer Greene, USI Archivist, gives a ‘tour’ of one family’s clothing collection that speaks to the fashions and handwork, from 1870 to 1970.  Talk features splendid dresses, skirts, and aprons.

Reitz Home Nooks and Crannies Tour

    Saturday, May 23, Beginning at 1:00p.m. Reitz Home, 224 S.E. First St. Limited space tour of places not seen on regular tours – the cellar, family safe closet, 3rd floor servant’s quarters. $7.50 admission. Reservations: 812 426-1871. Guide: Matthew Rowe

Re-lighting the Historic Greyhound

Neon Sign and Ice-cream Social

    Wednesday, June 10, 8:00p.m.-9:00p.m.  Greyhound Station, N.W.3rd and Sycamore Streets.  Greyhound Station exterior renovation is drawing to a close. See the neon on the blade sign come back to life! Celebrate this victory, see the dogs on the sign run again!  Host: Indiana Landmarks

 History of Evansville’s Parks

   Tuesday, June 16, 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m. Browning Gallery, Willard Library.  Learn about Evansville’s earliest parks. Topics include Mayor Bosse’s transforming of our parks a century ago.  Presenter: Pat Sides, Willard Library Archivist

Evansville’s Biggest Booster:

The Life of Mayor Bosse

     Tuesday, June 23, 7:00p.m.-8:30p.m. Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. 1st St. Based on his new book, Mayor Bosse’s great, great nephew, Jeff Bosse, presents the city’s most dynamic and influential mayor. Bosse’s term—1914 to 1922— was an unmatched era of economic and civic expansion. Reception follows.

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North Main Historical Walking Tour Part One

What: As part of May’s Historic Preservation Month in Evansville, Jacobsville Join In is partnering with the Vanderburgh Historical Society to bring a Historical Walking Tour to the North Main industrial corridor in the Jacobsville neighborhood. The community is invited to join the tour of North Main Street near Garvin Park and the old factories and warehouses along Morgan Avenue. Tour begins at 5:30 p.m. and departs from the Bosse Field parking lot on Thursday, May 14th.

Who:  ECHO Housing Corporation’s Jacobsville Join In, Vanderburgh Historical Society, Joe Engler (local historian, founder of historicevansville.com, and guide) and interested individuals.

Where: Meet at the Bosse Field parking lot, Evansville, IN

When: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 5:30 p.m.



Indiana’s Historic Treasures Threatened

Vast troves of Indiana’s historic records are threatened under a proposed state budget cut. The Vanderburgh County Historic Society (VCHS) previously reported on Indiana House Bill 1001 (the state budget bill) and penned a letter from the VCHS board raising significant concerns. Click here to read that letter. Now more details have emerged that bring the threats into frightening focus.

Gov. Pence’s budget, reflected in H.B. 1001, proposes to eliminate the state genealogical department. This document, found on the website of the Indiana Library Federation, contains a breakdown of the proposed annual reductions in funding to the State Library programs. Page 4 describes the current Indiana genealogy department, whose entire annual budget of $400,000 would be eliminated by the cuts.

In addition to gutting the genealogy staff, the proposed budget would potentially also allow for the transfer of vast troves of the Indiana State Library resources to a private non-profit entity. The Indiana State Library is home to one of the largest genealogy collections in the Midwest. This collection (over 100,000 items) is focused on Indiana, states from which Indiana was settled, as well as some foreign countries. The collection is rich with unique family histories and genealogy materials that cannot be found in other locations. These invaluable Indiana history resources collected over the years for the use of the citizens of Indiana, and not available elsewhere.

There are grave concerns over the potential transfer of these resources and the proposed cuts in staffing to the Indiana State Library’s genealogy department. There have been no public hearings on this issue and little publicity about the proposed major changes to these resources.

Two local legislators sit on the House Ways and Means Committee. Please contact them as soon as possible to voice your opposition to the proposed budget cuts.

Rep. Holli Sullivan: holliasullivan@gmail.com
Rep. Gail Riecken: Griecken77@aol.com


Press Releas

On Tuesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m., Evansville Museum Curator of History and Vanderburgh County Historical Society Board Member Thomas Lonnberg will give the PowerPoint program Welcome Traveler. In his PowerPoint program presented in the Museum’s new Koch Immersive Theater, Lonnberg will share information and images recalling establishments that served visitors to our City from the early 19th century through the mid 20th century. The presentation will focus on well-known hotels such as the Vendome and McCurdy and will also recall lesser-known establishments that served the community in the days when riverboats lined the city’s wharf and passenger trains frequented Evansville.

Lonnberg has served as the Evansville Museum’s curator of history for 26 years. In that time, he has curated over 100 exhibitions many of which have focused on the history of Evansville. He is on the boards of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society and the Corridor of Champions.

As seating is limited to 68, reservations are required. Please call 812-425-2406
for complimentary reservations.  This program is presented by the Evansville Museum and the Vanderburgh County Historical Society.