Shady Rest Home

Easterday Construction belongs to Indiana Landmarks. Their recent email newsletter includes some pictures of the Shady Rest Home on the east side of Plymouth. For anyone one interested, the County is looking at options to repurpose this facility since Bowen Center‘s decision to cease operations there. The following is an excerpt from the Indiana Landmarks site regarding the home.

“In the days before welfare and social programs, and before the establishment of hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities, people in need often had nowhere to turn. In 1848, Indiana passed new legislation requiring every Indiana county to “provide a public place wherein the unfortunate poor might have care.” Eventually, all 92 Indiana counties established “poor farms,” where able-bodied residents worked to offset the cost of residential care.

Local fanfare accompanied the Marshall County home opening in 1893. As the architecture makes evident, the county intended to create a quality home for their neediest citizens. Wing and Mahurin — a firm renowned for its Romanesque Revival public buildings — designed a grand Superintendent’s Quarters, with living and work space for the director and residents. Originally called the Marshall County Infirmary, the place earned its “Shady Rest” nickname from the many shade and fruit trees planted on the property.

Shady Rest Home today

Unfortunately, demolition has claimed a majority of Indiana’s historic county homes. In continual service for more than a century, Shady Rest is an anomaly. The county sold the facility in 1998, but it continued to serve as the Otis R. Bowen Center Shady Rest Home, a private residential center for adults who suffer from mental illness.

The Bowen Center closed Shady Rest this summer, and Marshall County commissioners are looking for ways to put the campus back in use. The five-acre property includes the main building, a large c. 1893 barn, a 1920s well house, and a garage.

The main building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which could make it eligible for Federal Rehabilitation Tax credits. Check out the National Register nomination for more interesting history about the Marshall County home. For more on efforts to find a reuse for the property, contact Marshall County commissioner Kurt Garner, 574-936-0613 or kurt.garner@gmail.com.”

Easterday Construction completed some renovation work on the facility back in the early 80’s. I was a plumber’s helper on part of that work, so I got to see some of the facility at that time. Unfortunately there wasn’t much effort to document projects at that time, so I don’t have any real details on what was done. I remember demolishing some nasty showers though!

It would be sad to lose this piece of history, though repurposing the facility may be challenging. Generally a buildings highest and best use is its original use and once that use has run its course, change is difficult. I’m sure with a little creativity, the County’s Committee on repurposing the building, currently being lead by Commissioner Kurt Garner, will find a suitable third life for this historic building.

 

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