Take a tour of 8 historical homes located in county

In honor of Indiana’s bicentennial, this year’s Town and Country Home and Gardens Tour in Jennings County will feature eight home sites that have historic significance.

“All of the homes have their amazing pieces of history and are owned by passionate history buffs who have lovingly restored both home and gardens,” said Jennings County Historical Society Director Chris Asher.

The tour on June 25 and 26 is an annual fundraising event for the Jennings County Historical Society Museum.

Four of the eight homes featured on the tour were built in the early 1800s, just after Indiana officially became a state in 1816. Previously, only Native Americans inhabited the territory north of the Ohio River that would become Jennings County in 1817.

One of the earliest pioneer homesteads stood along the Muscatatuck River. A small block house built in the early 1800s still stands on the grounds of the property called The Rivers Edge. Owners Susan and Steven Heitzman have restored the gardens and trails that led to the Muscatatuck River, and the ceder home built in 1987.

The Thomas Hicks Farm in Butlerville includes a two-story, brick, federal style home dating to the early 1820s. The property’s fame is tied to Hicklin Station in the Underground Railroad, which slaves used to escape to freedom with the help of the Hicklin family. By 1999, the farm sat deserted and in poor shape when Kathryn and Eric Johnson purchased the property and began a vigorous restoration. Today, it’s is a working farm.

The Kinder homestead in Commiskey was established in 1836 by Peter and Charity Kinder. Judith Kinder Smith inherited the original log cabin, out buildings and surrounding grounds from her parents in 2006, and has restored and expanded them. The original family home and several artifacts will be on display.

Judy and Steve Malone’s home was built in 1840 and is one of the oldest homes in Vernon. The home, which is furnished exclusively with antiques and family heirlooms, will be open for viewing. The Malones have created an intricate garden across the entire grounds.

Rumors of an impending Civil War were spreading across the nation by 1855, but Vernon was thriving and local attorney W.B. Hagins built a home at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Muscatatuck River. Still called Edgecliff Manor, the home is now owned by Mary Jo and Brad Bender. The home sits on 6 acres bordering the Muscatatuck and still has three of the original eight fireplaces, 11-foot ceilings, unique woodworking and a free-standing cherry spiral staircase designed by famed architect Francis Costigan.

Built in 1869 by Lewis Schwacke, Spruce Hill is a two-story brick home of Italianate, federal design. The home was built into a hillside with quarried limestone basement walls. Terri and Terry Sargent purchased the property and have worked to restore the home, gardens, a smokehouse and a greenhouse, all of which will be on display.

It took three years for Katherine Cone Wilkerson to build the home she started in 1895. Located on State Street in North Vernon, the house has 800 square feet of living space and features five bedrooms, two parlors, a dining room and a family room. A wrap-around porch, stained glass windows and unique interior woodworking highlight the home now owned by Judi and Scott Brown.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures for its architectural significance, Annadale and its adjacent carriage house will be open for viewing. Now owned by Corinne Finnerty and Don Lee, Annadale was built in 1912 for Ernest H. Tripp and his wife, Anna Brazelton. Located on Jennings Street in North Vernon, the home features three verandas and extensive landscaping.

The Cooley’s Garden at Jennings County Historical Society and the next door Victorian Railroad Office building on Brown Street in Vernon also will on the tour.

If you go

WHAT: Jennings County Historical Society Town and Country Home and Gardens Tour.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 26.

WHERE: All tour sites located in Jennings County. The Jennings County Historical Society, 134 E. Brown Street in Vernon, will host the event and will be open during the hours of the tour.

WHO: Open to the public.

COST: Tickets are $15 if purchased at the event or $13 if purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased at the Jennings Historical Society Building in Vernon on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. through June 24, or at the Historical Society Museum building or at any of the tour sites on the days of the event for $15 each.

INFORMATION: Call 812-346-8989 or go online at jenningscounty.org