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Benjamin T. Butterworth Jr. House

1201 Indiana Ave, La Porte, IN 46350

architect: Unknown

Built in 1873

for more information

Read more about many other historic homes in La Porte, in Preserve Historic La Porte’s book Historic Architecture of La Porte Indiana: The First 20 Years of the Candlelight Tour, available through Preserve Historic La Porte or the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.

history

The house at 1201 Indiana Avenue was built by Benjamin T. Butterworth Jr., locally recognized as “Tom.” He was born November 6 (or June 11), 1833 to Benjamin Butterworth Sr. (October 24, 1794-September 24, 1869) and Judith Welsh (October 20, 1799-September 4, 1885). They came to La Porte County in 1834 in a prairie schooner covered wagon and settled in Scipio Township in 1835. According to A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of La Porte County, Indiana (1904) by E. D. Daniels, Tom’s father, upon moving to La Porte County, purchased from the government eighteen 80-acre tracts of land for $1.25 per acre, making him one of the largest landowners of the county. Butterworth Jr. was about two years old when the family moved to La Porte.

In December 19, 1861, Benjamin Thomas Butterworth Jr. married Helen E. Place, born in 1840, daughter of Nelson and Elizabeth Place. They had five children. Helen passed away on October 24, 1903, and Benjamin died in Brooklyn, New York, on January 14, 1916. Cutler Brothers Funeral Home was in charge of the burial in the Cherry Hill Section of Pine Lake Cemetery.

In La Porte, their residence was on the “west side of E. Main 5 houses south of Harrison.” In February 1873, Tom Butterworth was planning on moving the dwelling house (a log cabin) which was at the time located on the southeast corner of West Main Street (now Indiana Avenue) and Alexander Street, and opened the lot to build a brick residence. By July 5, 1873, it was reported that “the brick work on ‘Tom’ Butterworth’s new house on Indiana Avenue was nearly completed.” The Polk, Murphy & Company 1874 La Porte City Directory records “Butterworth, Thomas, boots and shoes, s e cor Indiana ave and Alexander.”
Tom, along with his brother, Turner W. Butterworth, operated a Boots and Shoe Business at No. 2 Teegarden Block. He was one of the leading merchants in La Porte for about 25 years, the business later moving to 816 Main Street (now Lincoln Way). Regularly, the business was advertised in the local news media, such as (1) Those web slippers at 24c per pair, at Tom Butterworth’s, are going fast, (2) Tom Butterworth sells the best corn salve in the world – price 15 cts., (3) Yes, Betsy Jane, Tom Butterworth is selling nice kid opera slippers for $1 cash money, and (4) Ladies find kid button shoes only $2.25 at Tom Butterworth’s. Sales receipts had various headings.

The family left La Porte in 1896 or 1898, moving to Brooklyn, New York. The shoe business was continued by Butterworth’s nephew, and a partner, for a number of years. Following the Butterworth’s move to Brooklyn, there was a succession of owners throughout the following years. It was during this time that the house underwent changes to its appearance both inside and out. The house was designed as an Italianate structure, a design very popular from the 1860s through the 1880s. Also called a “General Grant” style because the famous general owned a similar home in Galena, Illinois, the design fell out of favor around the turn of the 20th century as a wave of modernism swept the country.
Perhaps as a result of this movement, the original porches were removed and updated porches were installed. The front door, originally facing Alexander Street, was moved to face Indiana Avenue, and the ground floor bay windows on the Indiana side were removed to make way for the new entrance. The foundation for the bay windows still exists under the “front” porch facing Indiana. This, of course, changed the entire look of the home. It was probably around this time that the cupola was removed, since it, too, was considered to be “old fashioned.”

The interior of the home was converted to a duplex, with apartments on each floor, and the home became two rental units. A number of families in La Porte can still remember living for a time in either the first or second story unit. By the 1990s, the home had fallen into disrepair, with its porches sagging and pieces of the soffits missing or broken. Subsequent owners restored the house to its former glory.

- Fern Eddy Schultz and Michele Barber

click to share

for more information

Read more about many other historic homes in La Porte, in Preserve Historic La Porte’s book Historic Architecture of La Porte Indiana: The First 20 Years of the Candlelight Tour, available through Preserve Historic La Porte or the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.

history

The house at 1201 Indiana Avenue was built by Benjamin T. Butterworth Jr., locally recognized as “Tom.” He was born November 6 (or June 11), 1833 to Benjamin Butterworth Sr. (October 24, 1794-September 24, 1869) and Judith Welsh (October 20, 1799-September 4, 1885). They came to La Porte County in 1834 in a prairie schooner covered wagon and settled in Scipio Township in 1835. According to A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of La Porte County, Indiana (1904) by E. D. Daniels, Tom’s father, upon moving to La Porte County, purchased from the government eighteen 80-acre tracts of land for $1.25 per acre, making him one of the largest landowners of the county. Butterworth Jr. was about two years old when the family moved to La Porte.

In December 19, 1861, Benjamin Thomas Butterworth Jr. married Helen E. Place, born in 1840, daughter of Nelson and Elizabeth Place. They had five children. Helen passed away on October 24, 1903, and Benjamin died in Brooklyn, New York, on January 14, 1916. Cutler Brothers Funeral Home was in charge of the burial in the Cherry Hill Section of Pine Lake Cemetery.

In La Porte, their residence was on the “west side of E. Main 5 houses south of Harrison.” In February 1873, Tom Butterworth was planning on moving the dwelling house (a log cabin) which was at the time located on the southeast corner of West Main Street (now Indiana Avenue) and Alexander Street, and opened the lot to build a brick residence. By July 5, 1873, it was reported that “the brick work on ‘Tom’ Butterworth’s new house on Indiana Avenue was nearly completed.” The Polk, Murphy & Company 1874 La Porte City Directory records “Butterworth, Thomas, boots and shoes, s e cor Indiana ave and Alexander.”
Tom, along with his brother, Turner W. Butterworth, operated a Boots and Shoe Business at No. 2 Teegarden Block. He was one of the leading merchants in La Porte for about 25 years, the business later moving to 816 Main Street (now Lincoln Way). Regularly, the business was advertised in the local news media, such as (1) Those web slippers at 24c per pair, at Tom Butterworth’s, are going fast, (2) Tom Butterworth sells the best corn salve in the world – price 15 cts., (3) Yes, Betsy Jane, Tom Butterworth is selling nice kid opera slippers for $1 cash money, and (4) Ladies find kid button shoes only $2.25 at Tom Butterworth’s. Sales receipts had various headings.

The family left La Porte in 1896 or 1898, moving to Brooklyn, New York. The shoe business was continued by Butterworth’s nephew, and a partner, for a number of years. Following the Butterworth’s move to Brooklyn, there was a succession of owners throughout the following years. It was during this time that the house underwent changes to its appearance both inside and out. The house was designed as an Italianate structure, a design very popular from the 1860s through the 1880s. Also called a “General Grant” style because the famous general owned a similar home in Galena, Illinois, the design fell out of favor around the turn of the 20th century as a wave of modernism swept the country.
Perhaps as a result of this movement, the original porches were removed and updated porches were installed. The front door, originally facing Alexander Street, was moved to face Indiana Avenue, and the ground floor bay windows on the Indiana side were removed to make way for the new entrance. The foundation for the bay windows still exists under the “front” porch facing Indiana. This, of course, changed the entire look of the home. It was probably around this time that the cupola was removed, since it, too, was considered to be “old fashioned.”

The interior of the home was converted to a duplex, with apartments on each floor, and the home became two rental units. A number of families in La Porte can still remember living for a time in either the first or second story unit. By the 1990s, the home had fallen into disrepair, with its porches sagging and pieces of the soffits missing or broken. Subsequent owners restored the house to its former glory.

- Fern Eddy Schultz and Michele Barber

click to share

a look into Benjamin T. Butterworth Jr. House