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A Brief History of IVH

The Indiana Veterans’ Home enjoys a rich history and aims to preserve its treasures from the past. Not only does the Indiana Veterans’ Home honor this history, but residents love connecting to the past as well.

The Indiana Veterans’ Home was created to care for disabled Union soldiers after the Civil War. A committee was formed to promote the establishment of such a place, which at the time was referred to as the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home. The committee visited several potential sites in cities all around Indiana, such as Warsaw and Muncie. However, the committee liked the 187 wooded acres in Lafayette, Indiana the best. In the summer of 1892, the committee formally recommended Lafayette as the location of the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home.

In 1895, the Indiana General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to create the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home and appropriated $75,000.00 for its buildings. In addition to the 187 acres the state purchased from Tippecanoe County, the city gave an additional 55 acres to the Home. A local veteran and business man, General Richard P. DeHart, gifted a 1,900 foot strip of riverfront property to the Home as well. Today, this land is known as the Tecumseh Trails Park).

Historical black and white overhead picture of the IVH campus.By 1910, 1,430 residents lived at the Home. It operated as its own little town, complete with a hospital, electric light plant, bakery, fire department, and an assembly hall with a seating capacity for six hundred people. The Home also had its own pet alligator!

In his written history of Tippecanoe County, written in 1909, DeHart wrote the following of the Home:

If one ever doubted that American appreciates and cares for her defenders, a visit to this beauty spot of Indiana will convince them that not only in times of peril and war does she care for her brave soldiery, but that now after forty years have come and gone, she still seeks to show these old and infirm men that she wishes them all the peace and comfort possible to provide for them, at any cost.[2]

Now more than 120 years from its inception, the Indiana Veterans’ Home is a very different place. The Home has adapted over the years to best provide for the needs of its residents and many of the buildings of the past have long since been demolished.  And while the Home no longer has an alligator, many relics of the past remain.  IVH boasts a small museum of historical artifacts related to various wars, as well as artifacts from the Home’s history.  A few of the original buildings remain as well and IVH is actively working to preserve and restore them.

Preserving the Home’s incredible past is indeed a great way to show our residents that we wish them all the peace and comfort possible to provide for them. Being a good steward of this history is a part of IVH’s mission and the staff is diligent in making the Home’s historical buildings and artifacts a memorial honoring all Hoosier veterans.

[1] Information was taken from the following references:   Laura E. Ingersoll, History of the Indiana State Soldiers Home (n.p. (n.d.); D.N. Foster, History of the Indiana State Soldiers Home at Lafayette, Indiana (n.p.) (n.d.); R.P. DeHart, Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, IN, Volume I (B.F. Bowen & Company 1909).
[2] R.P. DeHart, Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, IN, Volume I 380 (B.F. Bowen & Company 1909).

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