Chicago architect E. Hill Turnock designed a number of buildings in Elkhart, but none more famous than Ruthermere. The mansion home was built in 1910 near the Saint Joseph River, onlooking downtown Elkhart, Indiana. This three-story Beaux Arts structure is an interesting part of Indiana history.
The mansion was built as a family home for prominent Eklhart couple A.R. Beardsley and Elizabeth Baldwin, who married in 1872. In 1880 the couple gave birth to a baby girl and named her Ruth. The girl only lived a single year, and passed away just one year after birth. The couple never had more children, but they decided to name their luxurious and beautiful home after the late little Ruth.
Before contracting the famous E. Hill Turnock to design their home, the Beardsleys lived in a different house for 38 years. Ruthmere served as a social hub in Elkhart for the 14 years until the couple died in 1924. Arthur L. Beardsley inherited the property and kept the home in the family until 1944. For a short stint, Ruthmere was occupied by the S.S. Deputy family. The Beardsley Foundation eventually bought the mansion in 1969, and four short years later, Ruthmere opened to the public.
Today, this National Historic Landmark is open for tours. The beautiful mansion is a great spot to escape from Indy on a day trip. It’s an educational and fun experience that’s located within three hours of the Circle City. During the holidays, Ruthmere is festively decorated for the whole community to enjoy. Ruthmere visitors are awestruck by the details in the mansion, including carved mahogany woodwork, silk wall coverings, fine are collections, an indoor elevator and much more. This unique experience allows visitors to catch a glimpse of the wealthy lifestyle of this well-known family from the early 1900s.
The basement game room is super fun to explore. It houses a 1916 pipe organ and a 1955 Steinway grand concert piano. Another fascinating attraction in the home is the basement’s underground conservatory tunnel. It allowed complete weather-proof access to the home’s beautiful limestone greenhouse. Mrs. Beardsley enjoyed tending her flowers and plants, while enjoying the comfort of the indoors during those harsh Hoosier winters. Today, her conservatory is home to more than 150 plants on display.
Ruthmere was the first Beaux Arts mansion in the region. The museum is open seasonally, and is usually closed from January through March. It is open for regular tours, and it also books private parties. Some special events at the mansion include concerts, exhibits, garden parties, weddings and many other fun happenings.
Need to escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Indianapolis and find new and exciting things to do? Head to a smaller scene that’s filled with historic architecture and fascinating artwork. Ruthmere mansion makes for an amazing day trip from Indianapolis, or just a short getaway from Indianapolis.
302 East Beardsley Avenue
Elkhart, Indiana 46514