04 June 2013

Main Street Ligonier

Ligonier's Carnegie Library
Traditionally a street dubbed "Main Street" is the commercial heart of a community.  It brought people in and out of town through the downtown retail area lined with tightly packed one to three story buildings....what we recognize as our historic downtowns today.

There are a few places where this is not the case though.  For example, in Plymouth the main commercial corridor is Michigan (Road) Street while Center Street, the founders' version of Main Street, lies a block to the west.  It functioned as a sort of civic corridor with the post office, town hall, courthouse, several churches, and later the Carnegie library all lining the tree-lined street.  A similar situation exists in Ligonier where Main Street lies a block west of the commercial corridor.  Here too are provisions for a public square, their Carnegie library, post office, police station, and at least one church-or should I say synagogue.

Ligonier Post Office

Post Office Interior
Ligonier's Main Street is very broad, as though the founders had intended it to be an avenue planted in the center with trees.  It has impressive homes beginning at its north end/intersection with the original Lincoln Highway, that continue south for nearly a dozen blocks.  Mixed among the impressive homes are a handful of architectural gems.

New Deal Mural
Their Carnegie library is situated in the public square that served the town as a park since its inception.  Across the street from the library is the town hall and police station.  A block to the north is Ligonier's Colonial-style post office created under the New Deal projects of the 1930s.  It also has a large interior mural created under the same program.  A fraternal lodge is located next to the post office.
Ahavas Sholom Synagogue
A few blocks to the north is the Ahavas Sholom Synagogue.  It was constructed during the 1880s and replaced the original wood-frame synagogue.  Ligonier had a large Jewish population until it dwindled in the latter half of the 20th century.  The synagogue is the second oldest in the State of Indiana.  Its stained glass windows reflect the religious heritage of those that built it.  The library owns the building and it is used by the Ligonier Historical Society for tours.

Interior of the synagogue.  The stained glass depict Biblical friends David & Jonathan.
Ligonier also has an impressive collection of large Queen-Anne and Classical Revival homes, many built by leading Jewish merchants and industrialists of the town.  A historic stone fountain and clock are located in a small triangular park on the south side of the entrance into the downtown.  Across from the park is an historic gas station that has been converted into a town museum.

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