Local architectural gems
In the course of Edgar County events, the builders and people of this county have worked for and achieved something by being recognized with National Register of Historic Places designations.
There are eight sites or buildings that have come up to the standards set by the National Park Service under the auspices of the United States Department of the Interior. Just to qualify these properties must make a contribution to the major pattern of American history by association with significant people of the American past or of such a design or construction they are distinctive in their architecture, which leads them to being of great value and being the work of a master.
Sites recognized by the national register must be at least 50 years old and must be at their original locations. There are exceptions, but a qualifying factor must be examined carefully by the awarding agency.
A property that meets those specifications may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred preserving the property.
The first property placed on the register was the Edgar County Court House June 4, 1981. It is of significant stature, it is important to the people of the county and the state. It holds great architecture value and was built by a renowned craftsman. While looking at the classification of this property, we find it is an occupied public building accessible to all for governmental purposes. It is actually owned by the people of Edgar County represented by the Edgar County Board and recorded in the County Clerk and Recorder’s office at the county courthouse. This building was not in use when Lincoln traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit, as it wasn’t built until 1891.
The Pine Grove Club buildings were recognized March 30, 1984, thanks to the diligence of the members of the club and Walter Kimble. Its buildings and grounds were selected because it was accessible to all even though considered to be on private grounds. Other contributing factors were it was considered to have an educational nature, and it was a rural museum of sorts in a park setting beneath the pines.
Built in 1867, the school served until consolidation in 1955. It was also used as a church from 1867 until the Methodists erected a church in 1891, and that church served well until 1935 when roads improved to the point members could go further and easier to another church.
The Pine Grove Community Club bought it and used it for a meeting place.
It served for many years as a Pine Grove 4-H meeting place and a hall for plays and performances. This building was torn down about 15 years ago. In the time span from 1955 until the deterioration of the inside of the school building, it was used as an educational tour by teachers and students of Crestwood and a meeting place for reunions and church services during the summer. The location is at the intersection of 1500th Road and 1300th Street, north of Paris.
In August 1987, the Hotel France and the Paris Elks Lodge # 812 were designated on the National Register. The hotel was built in 1924 to replace the burned frame building that was the Paris Hotel. A little later the Elks building was constructed with an agreement for the hotel to use the two top stories and the Elks used the first floor and basement.
The hotel is located on East Court and the Elks building on East Washington. The former hotel is now used by the Human Resource Center and is kept well maintained. It is a bit unusual to find classic revival style architecture buildings in a small town like Paris. They were definitely masterpieces for their time and still are.
The Asher Morton farm on the west side of the Lower Terre Haute Road was declared a National Historic Site in February 1996. It is the home of Sandra Neal and is well kept.
Its notability stems from the Asher Morton family name and a distinctive building style. It is a monument to a well-kept farm setting that represents one of the attractive farms in our agricultural community. The Morton farm is found in the 1870 Atlas of Edgar County.
On May 9, 2002, The Paris Carnegie Library was placed on the register. It opened in 1904 after the efforts of the Paris Women’s Club to start a small library and a grant from Andrew Carnegie, who gave funds to 1,700 Carnegie libraries throughout the United States.
According to E.O. Laughlin, Carnegie’s involvement started when a Dr. Edmund Ferris sent letters to the Carnegie Foundation. That stemmed from the informal meetings held by a group of interested citizens at the corner drug store around the turn of the century.
The building easily qualifies for the register by being of unique architectural style, being a center for cultural and educational support and having the distinction of being a Carnegie Library.
The Shaw-Van Gilder house was recognized March 5, 2007. It is found just east of the old hospital on Crawford Street.
There is a Lincoln connection because Lincoln represented Elvis Perry Shaw several times, and the house dates to Lincoln’s time.
The Shaw family sold it to the Paul Van Gilders in 1966, and the present owners are Josh Whitaker and Crystal Tingley.
This home qualifies from the Lincoln connection, its architecture and its age.
The Henry Clay Moss house, better known as the Arthur Home, is at 414 North Main, Paris. The Moss family built this 10-room, Italianate, brick house in the 1870s. It has a unique spiral staircase, which is self-supporting.
In 1895, Daniel Arthur bought the house for a winter home for his family so they didn’t have to fight the weather out on the prairie and his children could attend school in Paris. The family lived there all year round by 1905.
John and Lena Arthur were the last in our area with the name Arthur, and they died in 1975. At that time The Edgar County Historical Society inherited the estate and continues to maintain the old Victorian home as a museum.
There are a lot of memories and history about these places of distinction in our county. We should be thankful for the people who have kept them up, and they are great for people to visit and learn about what makes our community a special place.