To start at Part 1 click here.
One of the things that make Evansville such an interesting place is its wealth of history. From the flowing river to the rolling hills, downtown to old town, the city offers a wide variety of places to learn, do, see and enjoy.
Nevertheless, I wanted to mention several to keep in mind as you consider what to see and do, including:
- John James Audubon State Park and Museum
- Grouseland – William Henry Harrison Home
- Burdette Park and Aquatic Center
- Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
- Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
An honorable mention goes out to The Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science which has been recognized as “One of Southwestern Indiana’s most established and significant cultural institutions.” This year it will celebrate the 108th anniversary of its collections that encompass a wide array of the arts, history, science and anthropology. The museum facility itself is stunning and a magnificent showplace for the works found in its numerous permanent and temporary exhibit galleries. The museum also has the Koch Planetarium and a hands-on Science Center.
The Reitz Home Museum
One of Evansville’s special landmarks is the Reitz Home Museum. Touted as “one of the country’s finest examples of French Second Empire architecture,” the museum is situated in the heart of Evansville’s stunning downtown Historic Preservation District. This grand Victorian-Era (1875 to 1910-ish) home plays a central role in the early history of the city.
An unusual aspect of the tour here is that it begins in the historic Carriage House, built along with the house in 1871 and remodeled in the early 1900s, which housed the Reitz family horses and carriages, servants, coachmen and later, automobiles. It is here that you gain your first sense of the impact that this foundingfamily had on the cultural landscape here.
The patriarch of the family was John Augustus Reitz, a German immigrant who migrated from his native Prussia to the U.S. in the 1830s. Over the next several decades, Reitz earned a reputation as “The Lumber Baron” for his highly successful saw mill which at one time reportedly produced more feet of hardwood lumber than any other in the country. Despite his success and wealth, Reitz placed great emphasis on sharing with those who were less fortunate and today is equally, if not more widely known and respected, for his philanthropic endeavors.
Because of the Reitz’s economic status, the home had many of the “newest technologies” of the early to mid-1800s, including indoor plumbing and electricity, plus incredible architectural details, fabrics and patterns, and craftsmanship. To this day the home is still furnished with much of the original late period Victorian furnishings owned by the family, and encompasses awe-inspiring accoutrement including beautiful stained glass windows, French gilt chandeliers, watercolor on canvas ceilings, white onyx fireplace mantels, and of course Reitz’s signature,intricately patterned, hand-laid wood parquet floors.
Today, the home is mentioned in the same breathe with other historic and influential American homes built and/or owned by tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, Frederick Vanderbilt, and others.
Next up – the LST 325 World War II Warship!
To start at Part 1 click here.