Hundreds of local residents and out-of-towners took in history at eighteen separate South Bend locations on Monday.
The event — part of the yearlong 150th anniversary celebration of South Bend known as SB 150 — took place at local landmarks and museums throughout the afternoon on January 19.
While several of the locations remain occupied today as private businesses, museums and schools, others are not currently occupied. Two of South Bend’s larger homes — the Kizer House and Birdsell Mansion — are both up for sale. Birdsell has been used for recent events but remains without a permanent occupant and is in need of repairs.
Locals also had the chance to glimpse inside the posh manors of South Bend’s former elite families: the Studebakers, the Olivers and Bendix.
Free guided tours were offered for the former estate of industrialist Vincent Bendix (now the Trinity School), Tippecanoe Place and Copshaholm, which was once owned by the Oliver family but now serves as a museum. The Oliver Inn was open to the public as well.
The hourly Bendix home tour was a popular destination. The estate is now the Trinity School, a private school that rarely opens its doors to the public. Reservations were required ahead of time.
“Awesome event,” said John Hall of South Bend. “The mansions are gorgeous.”
A mix-up between organizers and the History Museum meant that many visitors were unable to see Copshaholm. The mansion — which opened two hours ahead of time and closed before the event’s scheduled 5 pm ending — had a booked reservation list. A number of disappointed people were turned away, although no fewer than four other locations were within walking distance along Washington, as well as nearby Colfax.
Other locations on the tour included the Natatorium, Palais Royale, the State Theater and the Studebaker National Museum.
“It’s a great opportunity to see South Bend’s history,” another visitor commented.
South Bend Voice has a number of photos from the different locations, as well as historical background on the locations.