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History of the Brown Mansion
1852 George Brown emigrated from Cumberland County, England, to New York when he was 25 . Shortly thereafter he moved west to Porter County, Indiana, settling in Jackson Township.

1855 George Brown married Charity Carter, daughter of Jackson Township pioneers, Jacob and Chloe Carter.

1855-1884 Brown became a very successful farmer in Jackson Township, on land now bisected by the Indiana Toll Road. The farmhouse was located on what is now 950 North, west of 400 East. By 1882 he owned 900 acres and was also a major supplier of cordwood to the Porter brickyards, which began operation about 1870. George and Charity had ten children. An engraving of their prosperous farm was published in the 1872 Historical Atlas of Porter County.

1884 George Brown bought 120 acres in Chesterton from the John Thomas family. He engaged Chicago architect Cicero Hine to design a retirement home. Construction began on the Brown Mansion.

George and Charity

1885 The Brown Mansion on Porter Avenue was completed. Constructed of Porter bricks and Jackson Township lumber, it was complete with hot and cold running water, a bathroom on the second floor, and a coal fired furnace.

1891 Brown sold off all but 10 acres surrounding the Brown Mansion for development. In the same year, he built a brick store at the intersection of what is now Calumet and Broadway. It was the only downtown store to survive the fire of 1902. From 1908 to 1963 it was the site of the Charles Smith Men’s Store

1895 Charity Brown died at the age of 56.

1899 George Brown died at age 71. After his will was contested and broken, son John Franklin, known as Frank, moved into the house with his family.

1901 The old Brown family homestead on the farm in Jackson Township burned to the ground.

1922 As the town of Chesterton grew, the new high school was built north of the Brown Mansion on Morgan Avenue.

1942 The Brown Mansion was sold by Frank’s widow to Dr. Gerald and Nina Gustafson of Indianapolis, where Dr. Gustafson was a well-known obstetrician - he in fact delivered Dan Quayle, former vice president, in 1947. Dr. Gustafson had grown up in Chesterton. He and his family used the house as a vacation home, and also rented out the first and second floors as apartments.

1956 While the house stood empty, it was broken into by local youngsters who did considerable damage to the interior.

1963 The building was sold to the Westchester School System (later to become the Duneland School Corporation in 1969) for $27,500. It was to be used as the administrative center and was remodeled to accommodate offices.

1983-1985 Duneland School Corporation began an extensive project to refurbish and remodel the building and added a wing to the north for more offices. Without any photographs of the original interior, a Citizens’ Advisory Committee researched vintage interiors to select paints, wallpapers, fixtures and other décor appropriate to the house.

1998 The Brown Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Westchester Township Historical Museum, an educational service of Westchester Public Library, opened in the Westchester Library Service Center at 100 W. Indiana Ave.

2005 The Duneland School Corporation, having outgrown the facility, moved into newly-remodeled quarters in the Chesterton Middle School.

2005 Westchester Public Library signed a lease with the Duneland School Corporation and moved the Westchester Township History Museum into the Brown Mansion. The previous museum exhibit was refitted for the new space and new information and displays were added.

All local history and archival materials, including books, maps, photographs, and historical artifacts, were moved in and reorganized as the Leslie and Mary Pratt Local History Research Center. The Prairie Club and Richardson Archives were installed and the museum store was reorganized and enlarged.

The Westchester Township History Museum opened to the public on October 29 , 2005.

2006 The Duneland Garden Club created Victorian era style gardens on the front and east side of the Brown Mansion.

 

PDB
11/09

 

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