We’re on the road-Indiana (Part 3)

We were able to visit the Governor’s Executive Office! Each Governor gets to select what pictures he wants displayed. She explained to us about two but not who the man was in the middle. Or else we forgot!

Our first stop after a family weekend in Mount Vernon, Illinois, Bill’s mother’s birthday celebration, was to visit Indianapolis. We stopped at the Capitol Building for a tour and then headed south to Bloomington to do some hiking. We really enjoy history and where else can you get a great history lesson? This was our 5th such Capitol tour: Frankfurt, Kentucky; Montgomery, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; and, Harrisburg, PA. While our tour guide was good and we were able to go into the Governor’s private office, he was away, this one ranks 5th as far as “wow” factors. But it was still a very good visit and we would recommend it.

Our two top tours tie for #1, Madison and Harrisburg showcased history and the majesty of the physical buildings. We would put Frankfurt next followed by Montgomery. All were enjoyable and we are grateful we saw each. Indianopolis was lacking in the amount of history we cherish and the building wasn’t showcased like the others. But there were many things that set it apart from the others. It was pretty cool they were in session – first time we’ve seen it.

Indiana is one of 8 states that have all three branches of government working in the historic capitol building. All seven Executive officers, 100 members of the House and Senate and five Supreme Court Justices have working offices in the building.

We only have a few other pictures of the outside of the Capitol. As usual, the insides of Capitols are larger than life and worth visiting:

Our Tour Guide was interested in where we were heading. When we said, Bloomington, she said we had to visit Nashville (Indiana) and especially tour TC Stone’s home and museum. We decided we would save that for a rainy day. We were headed there to hike! We had met five students from Purdue University on our most challenging hike to date, Charlies Bunion in the Smokey National Forest. When we told them we were going to do some hiking in Indiana, they suggested Brown State Park. However, they did question why Indiana as it is not really known for it’s hiking like the Smokies….One doesn’t always appreciate their home state.

On Monday, March 18, we left Mount Vernon, Illinois at 9:30 am. We were at the Capitol in time for the 2:00 tour. We then arrived in Bloomington around 3:30. We got settled in then headed out for a Rails to Trail walk to get in our five miles for the day. This was a bit of an aggressive day. We knew a hike wasn’t possible but who knew there would be a GREAT rail trail system? This was the advantage of staying in a college town.

The hotel we stayed in wasn’t too bad, a Quality Inn, which usually aren’t jumping up and down. But this was the best we could come up with that was the closest to the entrance of the Brown State Park.  The location was great as were the meager accommodations: a microwave and refrigerator as well as a jacuzzi bathtub! There was an indoor pool and hot tub but we decided the water wasn’t warm enough so we just enjoyed the jacuzzi to help warm us up. The weather was still a bit cool but not enough to keep us from enjoying the great outdoors.

On Tuesday, we were rested and ready for a challenging hike. We picked the “hardest” one we could find. And it was also hard to find the trailhead…..The GPS took us in one big circle around the entire park, which was rather large. So we finally reached the summit a bit later than we were comfortable with, 1:00 pm. Oh well, we just had to make the best of it. This was supposed to be about a 7.4 mile hike but we could add a mile if we felt up to it. We normally don’t like starting at the top – hindsight is 20/20. The GPS actually tried to take us to the bottom of the mountain but somehow, the operator (me) mis-read it and up up up we went! And the final calculation was hiking 6.97 miles….No real scenic views but it was a challenging hike with fresh air and lots of solitude. We saw less than 10 people. It was a great hike overall. Oh and that jacuzzi was calling our names!

We found the park easily. The trailhead was another story.

Quaint entrance but no one was working on this day.

We began meandering up the mountain, looking for a parking lot or trail head of some sort.

After finally finding a state employee who really didn’t know much about hiking, we found the parking lot for the trailhead.

This makes you think it can’t be all that long of a trail. But we started near the campground, went all the way to the lake and back. So it should only be about 7 miles but my tracker said nearly nine miles!

Can you see a bit of the slope? The signage was great – you can tell it was needed.

Finally, we can see our reward peaking through the trees!

We made it down to the lake! And here we saw a few cars – this was really where we should have started! See the peak in the background? That is where our car is parked!

I had reached out to my cousins as we entered Indiana. Since we follow the weather for our outdoor lifestyle, we had to find a mutually agreed time for everyone. We looked at the forecast and it looked like rain on Wednesday, so no hiking, and it turned out that was the best time for all of them! And rain it did. So off the TC Steele homestead and museum on our way to meet them for dinner.

American impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele (1847-1926) and his wife Selma moved to Brown County, Indiana in 1907 and established a home, studio and gardens on 211 acres of scenic terrain. The property and its artifacts remain essentially unchanged from the way it was during their time here. The picturesque landscape of this area, and Steele’s prominence, drew in other artists, establishing an Art Colony of the Midwest….from Friends of T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

The road from our hotel in Bloomington to the TC Museum and then onto Edinburgh to meet up with my long lost cousins! We were glad the Tour Guide at the State Capitol recommended this. She knows her geography and history. It was on the most direct route to meet my cousins.

We had no idea what to expect. This really was off the beaten path – but then it was the perfect location for our day.

We have a reason to return. This very quaint historical site has a big expansion in the works! Steele names his homestead The House of the Singing Winds.

This is a sweet little homestead but gardens were promoted. But to be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect. But we do know it’s always prettiest in the Spring for such locations!

This may not be the best time of the year to visit a Museum that has flower gardens! But we do like to avoid crowds.

“Seasons come and go. Eternal change but always with their Gifts of Beauty.”

He was more than an artist! He was a VERY creative man who was in tuned with nature. And that was why and how he selected this homestead site.

T.C. Steele is a very interesting man! Sadly, I am adding these photos to this blog post a year after we were there so I can’t remember how his bust ended up in his Art Studio. But I do recall it was an interesting story! As was everything we learned here.

There were only a few things he wanted for his new homestead for his new life with his bride. An art studio was at the top of the list!

The main living area of the home. The furnishings have been “preserved” and virtually are unchanged since when they lived here.

Now we are learning a bit more about the widower and his inability to really imagine what his bride would like in her kitchen. This room has had some issues. One was how poorly designed it was for a wood burning stove. He wanted the home to blend into the landscape. Their story is what I love about homes that have been preserved!

They didn’t have a fire extinguisher back in the day. The house has to have certain codes now. His wife, Selma did the stenciling art work to make it more of her own.

As it turned out, his bride, Selma, didn’t exactly like the house! She was a city girl and liked all the “modern” conveniences of homes. So now we can see a bit of an addition to help her with her ironing. But I am sure that was not her ironing board, but for the Docents to keep it all looking crisp!

The master bedroom!

The guest room. Was it an after thought? Oh I wish I had taken notes by the Docent.

His “office” and study.

Sadly, we have more or less avoided art museums in our travels. While we have some art appreciation, we are not into the artist culture because neither of us have much artistic talent (you can tell when you look at how we decorate or don’t decorate our homes). But we had our eyes opened with this visit. If you’ve followed our travels very long, you’ll know we love historic homes. There is so much rich history and we do enjoy looking at original furnishings. We really grew to respect this man and his legacy.

The name T. C. (Theodore Clement) Steele (1847-1926) is a household word among Hoosiers who enjoy our state’s art heritage. A legend in his own time, he continues to be the best-known artist who lived and worked in Indiana in the late 1800s and early 1900s. After studying for five years at the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, Germany, his determination to paint what he knew best, the Indiana landscape, was as innovative as it was sincere. Known as one of the Hoosier Group artists, Steele took his role seriously as a leader in American Midwest painting. In addition to creating artwork, he wrote and gave lectures, served on numerous art juries to select paintings and prizes for national and international exhibitions, and helped organize pioneering art associations and societies….

T. C. Steele died on July 24, 1926. Hundreds of people attended a simple ceremony at the House of the Singing Winds and his ashes were buried at the bottom of the hill. The epitaph on his tombstone reads, “Beauty Outlives Everything.”

The legacy of T. C. Steele is being recognized in this year of Indiana’s 200th birthday. His love of his home state, decision to remain here despite career hardships, and his ability to help all Hoosiers see their surroundings “with new eyes,” have made him a symbol of all that’s good in Indiana.


March 2, 2020 I just found this year old draft. It’s my mom’s home state and I just needed this connection. Hopefully, I’ll find time to finish our time there. I was inspired to get this published after I read a blog post about a Pastor who was asked to pray at an opening legislative session after “God Showed Up at a Town Hall Meeting.” Now I’ve also learned we missed seeing the “powerhouse” room in the Capitol! Visit here: “…My Day at the Indiana Statehouse.”

...I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2

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