The Indiana Insider Blog

Exploring Elkhart County: The Ruthmere Mansion

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My wife and I had the pleasure to visit Elkhart county for a romantic weekend a few weeks ago. This is the fourth post in a five post series about our adventure in Elkhart County.

One of the best attractions in Elkhart was the Ruthmere Museum on the banks of the St. Joseph River. The historic house was commissioned 1908 by Elizabeth Baldwin Beardsley. She commissioned Chicago-trained architect E. Hill Turnock to design and build Ruthmere. The Beardsley’s lived in the home for fourteen years. They entertained in the home and made the house comfortable for modern life.

My wife and I had the pleasure to tour the mansion in June. We went on a Sunday afternoon, and where the only ones to take the tour. We were greeted by the curator and told the history of the house. The tour started in the basement game room – where there were some marvelous Russian Artifacts on display and worked through the house from there. At the beginning of the tour, the story of how the home got it’s name was told. The Beardsley’s had a daughter named Ruth who sadly passed away at the age of 8 months, due to water on the brain.

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After the Beardsley’s deaths the house was purchased by two families. The house was owned privately by both family for many years. Uniquely, both families, tried to maintain the original features and furniture of the house, which is particularly interesting when you learn that one of the families raised six boys in the house. The charming curator of the museum pointed out little damages from the boy’s adventures in the house, but also remarked to the sturdiness of the house.

As the tour continued, we were taken upstairs to see the bedrooms, morning room and guest room. While the house is considered small for the type of grand house that it is, the house is still very ornate and beautiful. We toured Mr. Beardsley’s bedroom which is set as it would have been when he was alive. All of the furniture in the room is original in the house. When you walk into Mr. Beardsley’s room make sure to notice the painting hanging on the wall across from the bed, which was bought on one of his many travels.

From the bedroom, you can walk through the adjoining bathroom to Mrs. Beardsley’s Bedroom. Make sure to take a moment to stop in the bathroom and admire all of the original features. The tile work in the bathroom is particularly beautiful. Mrs. Beardsley’s bedroom is a real treat as well. The pink silk wallpaper that adorns the wall was modeled from the Palace of Versailles in France. A fun thing to notice in the bedroom is a bottle of champagne on the night side table, that was used for Mrs. Beardsley’s diabetes.

As the tour continued downstairs, we were able to tour the drawing room, the study, and dining room. The curator also played the large pipe organ which sits in the foyer, which was a real treat. There were pictures of the Beardsley’s all over the house, giving a sense that the house was really enjoyed by them. We also came across official Tiffany lamps in the home, which were beautiful.

I highly recommend touring this house next time you are in Elkhart. The tour is very family friendly and sure to delight all ages. Guided Tours run from April 1st to December 31st. Check their website for times for the guided tours. Admission for adults is $8.

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Written by : Jonathan Thomas is a blogger based in Northwest Indiana. He's passionate about the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan and wants to share all the fun possible in the area with the rest of the world. When not blogging for Travel Indiana, he hangs his hat at his Anglophile blog - Anglotopia and Niche Blogger Today. If you want to connect with him, you can contact him on Twitter @jonathanwthomas Jonathan receives compensation from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development in exchange for blogging. For more information, please see our FTC Disclosure page.