Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Elston Homestead

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Institution Name: Wabash College
Original/Historic Place Name: home of Major Isaac C. Elston
Location on Campus: 400 E. Pike St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1835original construction Unknown
1930srenovation and landscaping Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone, brick
Walls: brick painted white
Roof: asphalt shingle
1835-1967private residence
1967-present (2007)president's house

Significance: architecture, education, history
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Now home to the president of Wabash College, this eight-room house was built in 1835 by the most prominent citizen of Crawfordsville at the time, Major Isaac Compton Elston. In addition to his own "mansion," as it was called locally, Major Elston built large homes for his children's families on his surrounding forty acres, known as Elston Grove. One of his daughters, Joanna, married U.S. Senator Henry Lane, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, and their home, Lane Place, is directly across Pike Street. Another daughter, Susan, married General Lew Wallace, whose study is at the end of Pike Street and is on the National Register (Their home on Wabash Avenue no longer exists). A local merchant, Major Elston founded the Elston Bank in Crawfordsville, raised money to build a local railroad, and bought huge tracts of land on Lake Michigan which he had plotted and sold to establish Michigan City, Indiana.

Following Major Elston's death, various family members lived in the homestead, and in the 1930s his grandson, Ike Elston (named Isaac C. Elston Jr. instead of the third), undertook a large-scale renovation of the interior and extensive landscaping. As city streets were added in the area, the original entrance had become the 'back" door with the main entrance moving to the south side on Pike Street. A wide center hall separates the four large rooms on each floor. Today the third or attic floor has been finished into two additional bedrooms and a two story addition on the back adds several more rooms. Two pairs of chimneys are built into the gables on the east and west ends. The initials ICE are carved in the northwest gable cornerstone; 1835 is inscribed in the southwest gable stone. Following his death in 1964, Wabash College inherited the homestead as part of Ike Elston's estate, and it became the house of the college president in 1967.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Montgomery County Interim Report. Indianapolis, IN: Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, 1986.

Larson, Jens Frederick, and Archie MacInnes Palmer. Architectural Planning of the American College. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933.

Osborne, James I., and Theodore G. Gronert. Wabash College: The First Hundred Years, 1832-1932. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1932.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections
Other: Robert T. Ramsey, Jr. Archival Center, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN

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