Friday, January 27, 2023

Jumping Ahead a Bit – Not an Auto Museum

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.  Taking a break from the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, I’m jumping around a bit, both before and after our exploration of the Museum. 

This is the Noble County Courthouse in Albion Indiana.  Built in 1889, this 2.5 story Richardson Romanesque style red brick structure is accented with limestone trim and that massive square center tower.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is the centerpiece of the Albion Courthouse Square Historic District.  The District itself includes 61 contributing buildings encompassing both the business district and nearby residential sections of town.

Albion was laid out in 1846 and the first courthouse was built a year later.  That building burned down in 1859 and it was replaced by a brick structure, which by 1887 was both too small and too dilapidated to house the growing county government.  Albion has a population of a little over 2,200.

Noble County was named for James Noble, a Virginian who moved to the area in 1811.  When Indiana became a state in 1816, Noble was elected as a United States Senator.  He died in in Washington D.C. while serving in that position. 

This is the Auburn Indiana City Hall.  The cornerstone was laid in 1913 and the building was completed in 1914.  The cost was $37,686.70.  The city’s fire department occupied one section of the building as did the Police Department.  The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the era when notorious bank robber John Dillinger was causing havoc in Northern Indiana, Auburn’s Chief of Police made a much publicized statement regarding the arsenal the city would use to protect itself from the gang.  On October 14, 1933, the police station, still located in this building, was robbed at gunpoint by a trio of well-dressed men.  The group stole guns, including a Thompson Machine Gun and protective ‘bullet-proof’ vests.  Dillinger subsequently wrote a letter to the Police Chief, thanking him for the equipment.  However, he also expressed dismay that the vests weren’t really bullet proof…as one of Dillinger’s men was killed in a bank robbery while wearing one.

The name for the town most likely came from “The Deserted Village”, a poem by Oliver Goldsmith.  The poem begins, “Sweet Auburn!  Loveliest village of the plain.”  The village of Auburn was first plated in April of 1836.  Interestingly, census records show that despite the collapse of Auburn’s once thriving auto industry, the town has never shown a population decline dating all the way back to 1850.  Today, with a population of 13,400 plus, it comprises about 30% of all of DeKalb county’s residents.

Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cornerstone for the DeKalb County Courthouse in Auburn, was laid in July of 1911.  The principal speaker at the formal dedication was Thomas R. Marshall, then the Governor of Indiana as well as the Democratic Candidate for Vice President of the United States.  He served 2 terms as Vice President under President Woodrow Wilson.

This is the third courthouse for the county and it is located on the site of its predecessors.  The building was completed in 1914 at a cost of $317,072.14 including the structure and furnishings.

The downtown Auburn Historic District was the birthplace of the buggy and carriage manufacturers which spawned early automotive production.  The City, known as the “Classic Car Capital of the World” and as one of the birthplaces of America’s automotive industry, was the home to many early automotive brands.  They include Auburn, Auburn Motor Buggy, Cord, DeSoto, Moterette, Eckhart, Handy Wagon, IMP-McIntyre, Kiblinger, McIntyre Special, Model Union, Zimmerman and Black.  The historic downtown area of Auburn is reflective of the early days of the auto industry.

We weren’t very hungry despite a day of visiting and walking through museums.  I’d done a little research and we chose Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room at 114 North Main Street in Auburn as our source of evening sustenance.  This restaurant/tap room is one of 6 operated by this local chain.  They also operate 2 breweries… Sorry for the lousy photo as I had to borrow it from the Internet.

Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room is located in an old refurbished building that had been home to a small town department store.  The ambiance in both the bar and dining area was a mix of warm brick and wood with an industrial flair.  The ‘look’ or ‘feeling’ projected by the bar area was quite appealing to me.

Laurie was quite happy with a couple of Margaritas and I went for Mad Anthony’s Blonde Lager.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not into heavy or ‘hoppy’ beers.

Laurie wasn’t hungry so we decided to go for appetizers instead of something more serious.  We started with the Scotch Eggs. ($9.50) These hard boiled eggs were encased in country sausage and then flash-fried and served with house made ranch dressing.  Maybe it was the sausage they used, but we thought that this version of Scotch eggs was bland and tasteless.  At least they were filling…for me…as Laurie just didn’t like them at all.

Laurie’s family once owned a dairy in Wisconsin so she was raised on and has fine memories of cheese curds.  Consequently, they were the second appetizer that we ordered. ($9.00) There were plenty of them but that was the only positive.  These flash fried cheese curds tasted like they were lightly breaded…and then they had grated parmesan sprinkled on top of them.  Not a winner in our book…but I sure was solving any personal hunger pangs.

Our third foray into the appetizer menu was an order of the “Large Crispy Chicken Wings” lavished with ‘your favorite sauce’ and served with either ranch or bleu cheese dressing. (5 for $8/10 for $16/20 for $32) With only 5 sauce options, we didn’t have many choices for our favorite sauce, but we decided on the Sweet Thai Chile.  The wings were very nice and Laurie finally had something a bit more substantial than one section of Scotch egg and 3 or 4 cheese curds to go with her Martinis.

To be fair, one should explore more of the menu offered at Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room before rendering a harsh judgement.  The menu offered quite a variety of food for diners to select from.  Jambalaya Pasta, Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash, Shrimp and Grits, several salads, ‘Smash Burgers’, a plethora of wraps and sandwiches, plus 3 versions of mac ‘n cheese, street tacos and of course, pizza.  Mad Anthony’s obviously has many fans, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to grow the company…

To learn more about Mad Anthony’s, it’s brewery offerings and the company’s various locations, just go to:

We took back roads and state highways from Auburn Indiana for most of the way to our next destination, which was Dayton Ohio.  Along the way, we were ‘gobsmacked’ when we passed through the down of Van Wert Ohio.  The over the top architecture blew us away.

This is the Van Wert County Courthouse.  Located at 121 East Main Street, this is a Second Empire style structure that was built in 1876.  It wasn’t easy to photograph…hence the image shown above.  This courthouse is a ‘statement’ that’s for sure!  The huge square structure has towers in all 4 corners…and it is a complete vision of brick and stone.  The architect used several groundbreaking techniques throughout the structure, one of them being pressed steel.  The clock tower with a statue of Justice in its niche is kind of like icing on the cake.  The statue itself is 8 feet tall and before its installation, it won first place in a Philadelphia sculpture competition.

FYI, the city and county of Van Wert are named for Isaac Van Wart, one of those who captured British spy Major John Andre in the Revolutionary War.  The area is a center of peony cultivation and it has frequently hosted the annual Van Wert Peony Festival since 1902.  The county is also home to the first county library in the United States

Things…good things are happening in Van Wert Ohio.  Just check out the photos…a sampling of critical revitalization and preservation!  The Van Wert County Foundation has spearheaded an undertaking called “Van Wert Forward”. 

More than 50 older building in various states of decay are slated to be restored at a price tag approaching $100 million.  The city had lost its largest building in the Main Street area and that spurred action.  The Foundation put up close to $20 million of its own money along with state grants and tax credits…and they are obviously moving forward.

To learn more, check out the following article:

OK…not at the museum…but still another automobile.  I spotted this 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sedan in a parking lot and I had to take a photo!  After all, it’s almost as old as I am and it looks like it’s in better shape too… The Fleetmaster was built by Chevrolet in 1946, 1947 and 1948…but the license plate on this one said 1947.  These cars came equipped with a straight 6-cylinder engine and a 3 speed manual transmission.

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. You found some fascinating buildings, David. That Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sedan looks beautiful.

  2. I'm always curious about how you decide which of the small towns to visit. The bar and the wings look good from here.

  3. Too bad about the food not up to your wife's standards...I've never had a Scotch egg, and don't think I ever will. Love the old buildings along the way.