That's Hoosier for Versailles. Evidently the French had some influence on this other Michigan Road town too. Again, on my first trip down the Michigan Road in March of 1999 to Madison, we passed the town of Versailles; on the return trip you couldn't miss this impressive and unusual spire towering in front of us, just before we had to turn to the west. So, we drove back around the block and I couldn't believe my eyes.

Here, in this little southern Indiana town stood one of the most impressive Art Deco churches I have ever seen. And let me tell you, I know my Deco. Congregations just didn't go for this modern design for their places of worship so the style is a rarity. Nearby were other buildings matching the style and construction materials of a cream colored, glazed brick. What gives?

I never knew the story until Thursday while in Greensburg (from the below link):

James Henry Tyson was born on September 14, 1856, the son of William and Eliza Tyson of Versailles. The early part of James Tyson's life was spent in the printing industry, working in Versailles and Osgood, Indiana. He eventually travelled beyond his hometown throughout the United States and the world. In Chicago, Illinois, he met and became friends with Charles Walgreen. This friendship led Mr. Tyson to several positions in the Walgreen Co., including the firm's first bookkeeper and, following its 1916 incorporation, its secretary. While traveling the world and living in Chicago, Mr. Tyson retained strong feelings for his home town of Versailles. His donation of 18,000 shares of Walgreen Co. stock, established the Tyson Fund which was to finance the building of the Methodist Church, the public library, waterworks and other community activities. The church was designed by Odle, McGuire & Schook of Indianapolis with the ideas that Uncle Jim (as the local philanthropist liked to be called) had from travels around the world. I've checked into the architect and by far, during this period, it was one of their most impressive works along with the Hulman Building. It was built at a cost of $150,000 and was dedicated in May 1937.

Down the road is another impressive building that appeared to have served as the highschool with the "Tyson Gymnasium" and then across the street was the Tyson Library (above), also constructed in the same brick material, but for some reason a rather ordinary building when compared to the other two. I did not see the waterworks facility Tyson also funded, but will need to stop on a return trip. And man I'd love to see inside that church!


Anonymous said…
Ver-sales is actually on the Michigan Road auto trail, don'tcha know.

Next time I'm through, I'll have to get off 421 and see these sights!

The original pre-421 road out of Versailles ran through the flood-control lake that now sits north of town. Its remnant intersects with 421 just south of Osgood; it's signed Hasmer(?) Hill. I've read that this was a plank road.

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