For those looking at the elegant façade of the Beaux Arts mansion, Ruthmere, it would seem that time has not passed in the 95 years since the house was built. The three story home, made with Belden bricks from Ohio and Indiana limestone, its windows accented by gaily striped awnings, its elaborate entranceway flanked with brick pillars and topped with carved limestone capitals, belonged to Albert R. and Elizabeth Baldwin Beardsley.
The story of Ruthmere, now on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Beardsley family, is part of the history of Elkhart, Indiana where the home sits, one of many beautifully preserved homes along a sweeping road that curves with the flow of the St. Joseph River and is just a short walk from the pretty downtown.
Both inside and out, the mansion, filled with the treasures of the owners, paneled in glossy highly polished mahogany, decorated with interior murals, reverse painted windows, stenciled and hand painted ceilings and intricately patterned wallpaper and dotted with stained glass windows, is seemingly as resplendent as when, the original owners, lived there.
The Robert Buchanan Beardsley Arts Resource Library in back of Ruthmere. The recreated turn-of-the-century library is located in what were the chauffeur’s quarters. The non-circulating library, open to the public by appointment, houses about 1800 volumes and fifteen periodicals on American domestic architecture, landscape architecture, and decorative arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
An invaluable place for research, the library is also worth a stop just because it is so lovely. The bottom floor, which was the garage area, has a wooden turntable built into the floor so that cars could be driven on to it and then either parked or driven out.
There are three wonderful cars on display including a 1913 Pratt 40 which was made in Elkhart, a Cadillac and a1916 Milburn Electric which was owned by Mrs. Nellie Knickerbocker, a friend of the family, who drove the car to Ruthmere when visiting.
Lived in by the same family until it was opened to the public in 1973, Ruthmere and its grounds are a must see.