Leadership Jackson County project team creates downtown Seymour walking tour brochure


Growing up in Vallonia, Adam Disque often walked to a gas station with his father and spent 25 cents on a Coke and a candy bar.

In Seymour, Susan Zabor visited Hook’s to get some candy after class at a dance studio, and Shannon O’Neal went to Baldwin’s with his grandparents to get a milkshake.

These types of childhood stories have at least three elements, Disque said.

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You were with someone that you loved who cared about you and was important to you. Also, it was probably at a time when life wasn’t as busy. And third, you smile thinking about the enjoyable moment.

With that in mind, the three members of the Leadership Jackson County history project team decided to keep downtown memories alive.

During their class’ walking tour with Seymour historian Kevin Greene, they learned many interesting facts about downtown locations. Neal said that led them to create a downtown Seymour historic walking tour brochure so others could learn and enjoy it, too.

After receiving a blessing from Greene for the project, they spoke to Seymour Main Street Executive Director Becky Schepman to see if that organization would be interested in contributing to the project and sharing the brochure on its website and Facebook page. It agreed to do so.

“There really is a lot of history in our small town,” O’Neal said. “Growing up downtown shopping and eating, you can say downtown used to be a happening place. Becky Schepman has taken on a role to bring back downtown and has made downtown very enjoyable to see it grow once again.”

The brochure, which also was shared with the Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour, has 11 stopping points.

It starts at 410 Indianapolis Ave. at the oldest building still standing in Seymour. It was built in 1853 by Travis Carter, the city’s first postmaster, who sorted mail upstairs. It was purchased and restored by the Seymour Heritage Foundation in 1989 and last operated as the Jackson County chapter of the American Red Cross.

The next five stops are on North Chestnut Street.

The first one was the first home in Seymour to have electricity. Built in the 1890s, it was the residence of Meedy S. Blish, who with his brother, Tipton, owned Blish Milling Co. The home was purchased and restored by Victor Burkholder in 1963 and transformed into a funeral home.

The Chestnut Motor Inn is the next stop on the tour. Originally built as the home of Tipton Blish, it became the Seymour Hotel in the 1940s and changed to its current name in the 1960s. Today, it’s used for short-term housing.

The Vehslage Building, Seymour City Hall and Seymour Museum Center are at the same intersection.

The three-story Vehslage Building originally was built for the International Order of Odd Fellows and over the years has housed different trades, including physicians, dentists, hair stylists, lawyers and a license branch.

The building at 309 N. Chestnut St. began as the Seymour Indiana Telephone and Telegraph Co., built for $50,000 in 1929, the year of the stock market crash. The cost of purchasing the polished terra cotta tiles from Indianapolis nearly led to the company’s bankruptcy.

Opened on April 1, 1918, the building at 220 N. Chestnut St. used to be a post office, city hall and a police station. Efforts are underway to convert it into a city museum.

A block away at 210 W. Second St., the Seymour Masonic Temple was constructed by Carter’s company in 1901. In the early 1900s, a post office and a bowling alley occupied the first floor, and the Masonic lodge and associated organizations used the top two floors. The first floor now houses retail space.

At 303 W. Second St. sits the Jackson County Public Library. It was built in 1904 through a $10,000 Carnegie grant. Seymour and 164 other libraries in the state received a grant, and Carter’s company built it. Renovations and/or additions were completed in 1928, 1992 and 2005.

The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce now occupies the building at 105 S. Chestnut St. It was dedicated in October 1914 for the Farmers Club and was considered the home base for farmers who came to the city for shopping. In the 1950s, it served as a hangout for teens and was used for gatherings, receptions and reunions.

The corner of Indianapolis and St. Louis avenues was the site of the first recorded train robbery by the Reno brothers on Oct. 6, 1866.

Finally, the tour ends at the Blish Milling Co. silos where the railroad tracks cross Tipton Street. It operated from 1858 to 1976, producing a capacity of 1,200 barrels of flour per day. The Colonial flour was sold all over the world.

Ben Eckert, Dicksons, Drew Markel and Shelley Hansome also helped with the brochure project.

Disque encourages families, groups and individuals to pick up a brochure and take the tour.

Even if you aren’t from Seymour, Disque said you will see a building or hear a story that will remind you of something from your childhood.

“We want to encourage everybody to grab people that they care about, take them on a tour, go spend time in the shops downtown and it’s going to become a memory that you guys will really enjoy,” he said. “It will become part of the story of the people you take with you.”

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