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Porter County Museum
PoCo Muse Oct 3 2017.jpg
Location 153 Franklin St., Valparaiso, Indiana
Built 1871
Architect Rose, R.; Shade & Lembke
Architectural style Italianate, Gothic Revival
NRHP reference No. 76000017
Added to NRHP June 23, 1976

The Porter County Museum is located inside the former Porter County Jail & Sheriff's Residence, southeast of the Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Indiana.

The former Porter County Jail & Sheriff's Residence has been home to the Porter County Museum since May 11, 1975. It is located at 153 South Franklin, Valparaiso, Indiana on the southeast corner across from the courthouse square. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Awarded the Outstanding Historical Organization of the Year by the Indiana Historical Society in 2016, the Porter County Museum, commonly referred to as the PoCo Muse, maintains six permanent and one featured exhibit, as well as programs and activities throughout the year. Artifacts of interest are a mastodon tusk (which was discovered on Myron Benedict's Boone Grove farm in 1949), WWII-era wedding dress created from the silk of a parachute, Joseph Bailly's personal trunk, and thousands of other objects cared for by the Porter County Museum.

The c. 1860 Hunt Residence

Long recognized as the home to Porter County's sheriff between March 1872 and January 1975, the beautiful Italianate residence was believed to have been built for Franklin Hunt, a wealthy Valparaiso merchant, in 1860. It is located on East Indiana Avenue, which was Mechanic Street when the house was first constructed. The building is accessible to the public through the operation of the Porter County Museum, which is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10a/5p. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Joliet Stone is used for the voussoirs and keystone. The Joliet Stone has been rusticated at third points along each side of a window or door. Rusticated stone is also used in the quoins and foundation walls. The brackets and eave moldings are of pressed tin. The roof is a shallow hipped style. The four large chimneys were removed when steam heating was installed. The original heating was by stoves on the upper floors and small arched white marble fireplaces on first floor.

The interior woodwork is relatively unchanged except for the changes to add bathrooms and steam heat. There are four rooms on the first floor with an open stairway to the second floor. There are four large rooms on the second floor, which match those on the first. A closed stairway leads to the attic. The basement has a furnace and laundry area with a fruit cellar, and a coal bin. Two rooms were used as office and recreational areas for the sheriff deputies.

Inscriptions of the cornerstone laid in 1871 names R. Rose as the architect. Shade & Lembke, Builders, Wm. Davison, Stone Cutter from Joliet, Illinois. S.P. Robbins, A.B. Price and A.V. Bartholomew were the County Commissioners.

1871 Porter County Jail

The jail was added to the residence in 1871 and officially opened in March 1872 for a combined construction cost of $26,500. From the late 1850s until the 1871 jail's construction, prisoners were taken to LaPorte County. Designed by R. Rose using Gothic Revival styling with a showing of strength and a commanding presence in the community, Shade and Lembke were the builders. A new jail was opened in 1974 and this facility closed.

Significance

The Porter County Jail and Sheriff's Residence represent a common idea about local Indiana law enforcement in the mid-1800s. The attached residence provided for the Sheriff to be on duty 24-hrs a day, and it was law that his wife was required to cook for the prisoners and act as the jail matron when women were present.

Porter County Museum | PoCo Muse

The Porter County Museum (PoCo Muse), founded in 1916, moved to the former Porter County Jail & Sheriff's Residence and opened on May 11, 1975. Visit www.pocomuse.org to learn about the latest activities and to plan a visit.

Gallery

  • "Counties of Porter and Lake Indiana", Weston A. Goodspeed, Historical Editor and Charles Blanchard, Biographical Ed.; F.A. Battey & Co. 1883; Chapter, "History of Porter County", pg 23
  • "History of Porter County", Volume I, Then Lewis Publishing Co; Chicago-New York; 1912, pp. 58–59.
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