History, Preservation, Road Trips

The Boardman House

Augusta, Indiana was founded in 1832 by David Boardman and James Fee, presumably to take advantage of the opportunities the brand-new Michigan Road would provide. In 1834, Boardman and his son built a house in Augusta on the Michigan Road. It still stands, and is one of the oldest homes in the city.

Boardman House

Boardman and son built this house the hard way. They made the bricks from clay they dug and made the timbers from poplar and ash trees they cut down and sawed at a mill on nearby Crooked Creek. Can you imagine how long that must have taken? Some say the house was built on a bluff overlooking the Michigan Road. I think it’s possible that the house was built at the road’s original level, but that the road was lowered, probably during the automobile age, for faster and safer travel. Whichever story is right, the house seems to tower over the road.

The digital library at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis includes this photo of the house in 1976. You’ll notice some changes since 1976. The Michigan Road was widened to four lanes in 1995 or 1996, which removed a stoop and walkway to the front door. Also, the roof has been modified, the chimneys are shorter, window frames are narrower, and the front door is different.

Augusta’s best days were few. The railroad came in a couple miles west in the early 1850s. Smelling greater prosperity, most of the town picked up, moved down 71st St. to the railroad, and founded New Augusta. Today, both towns are part of Indianapolis.

When you drive through what was Augusta, it’s hard to tell it was ever a town. It seems only to be a few random old houses that inexplicably interrupt a sea of strip malls. But some clues, like this house, remain.

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16 thoughts on “The Boardman House

  1. Phil Dalbey says:

    My house is just around the corner from the Boardman house, and it is a log cabin, clad in old asbestos siding. Is there a source where I can find out who built the cabin and when? Incidently my address in on W. 77th Street, but my survey says it was originally Meridian Street for Augusta.

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  2. Phil, I’m no expert. I’d try contacting the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana (www.historiclandmarks.org), perhaps they can help you.

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  3. Pingback: Residential Architecture along the Michigan Road « The Historic Michigan Road

  4. Wow! I’m going to have to go see this sometime! Do you know if they have tours?

    So that’s why we have ‘Augusta’ and ‘New Augusta’! I wondered about that!

    You live near ‘Snacks’ too… I once had a snack after work in Snacks. That’s the day I decided a burger with donuts for the bun was really not a good idea… Waste of an otherwise perfectly good burger and perfectly good donuts!

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    • I met the fellow who owns it once. He said I could come by sometime and see it, but that was a private invitation! He’s selling it, so the way to get a tour right now is to call a Realtor!

      Yes, I do live near Snacks. It’s a couple miles down 56th St.

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  5. It always amazes me when I read of people sawing their own lumber and making bricks. I suppose it shows how capable you had to be to make a go of it back in those days.

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    • So much of Indiana was dense forest when white men first arrived here. Can you imagine how much work it was to clear the land? From Indianapolis north it’s all flat farmland today.

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  6. Steve Miller says:

    I’ve heard another explanation for “Snacks” — it was just far enough along the Lafayette Road from Indianapolis in horse and buggy days that it would be time to stop for something to nibble.

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  7. I just learned about your site today. I enjoyed your 2008 post about the Boardman House. In reading the comments following it, I noticed some exchanges about Snacks Crossing that now prompt me to weigh in. I hope you won’t take offense to a correction. In my research of the school building that formerly stood on the corner of 52nd and Lafayette Road, I found the origin of the name “Snacks Crossing.” Snacks was not the name of a local family who settled in the area; I searched numerous genealogical databases to make sure of this fact. There was no name even resembling it on any census enumeration or in any directory. In addition, the original Snacks Crossing was not where the current school of that name is located; it was nearly a mile south of today’s site. If you’re interested, I wrote about Snacks Crossing in an article that was published back in May, which you can read here:
    http://historicindianapolis.com/hi-mailbag-former-locations-of-pike-high-school/. Thanks.

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    • Thanks for sharing that link. I’ve always been curious about what’s inside. $125k — wow, that’s so tempting. I shudder to imagine what that house needs, though. $17k for all that property in the 70s, wow.

      I really wish I had photographed this house and the area before the road was widened to four lanes.

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