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‘Elkhart County Home: Then and Now’ program June 3

The Elkhart County Parks Department will be presenting “The Elkhart County Home: Then and Now” program on Wednesday, June 3, at 10 a.m. at the Ox Bow Haus Shelter. This presentation is part of the “Flourish After 50” series and is targeted to people over age 50. Admission to the program is free to the public and will include a presentation on the history of the Elkhart County Home and an optional nature walk to view some of the remnants of the facility that was torn down in 1981.

The Elkhart County Home, located in between Elkhart and Goshen, opened in 1886 to provide shelter to the mentally ill, poor, disabled, elderly and orphaned. The home itself was a 113-room facility that also housed a hospital, beauty shop, and a recreation area. Residents of the Elkhart County Home were provided with free room and board, received medical attention, and could participate in recreational activities. In return, the residents had to work on a farm, which was part of the Elkhart County Home facility, or do lawn maintenance and housekeeping duties around the home.

“The 1930s was the busiest and most successful period for the Elkhart County Home,” said Elkhart County Historical Museum Curator of Education Patrick McGuire. “The number of residents was at its highest, the farm was able to fully feed all of the residents, and it was considered the best appointed managed facility of its kind in all of Indiana.”

McGuire will be giving a presentation on the history of the Elkhart County Home to start the program. After the presentation, participants will be led on a nature hike by Elkhart County Parks Naturalist Krista Daniels. Daniels will be showing visitors what is left of the property, which became part of Ox Bow County Park during the 1960s and 1970s.

Part of the program will be outside so if anyone planning on attending should dress appropriately for the weather.