Monrovia and Eminence are two very small central-Indiana towns separated by 13 miles of State Road 42. They’re actually only 9½ miles apart as the crow flies, but rural Indiana roads provide everything but a direct route, especially between two towns that have but one four-way stop apiece. Yet a fair amount of Hoosier life happens in and near little towns like these.
I drove through Monrovia one early-autumn Saturday morning. A modern school stands on the town’s eastern edge, surprising because so many rural Indiana school systems consolidated in the second half of the last century. Old, abandoned school buildings seem more typical of Indiana’s small towns. I was surprised to find a football game in progress; I stopped to watch for a few minutes.
The commercial buildings in Monrovia were all built in the early 20th century. This one was once a bank (notice the depository drawer on the building’s sunny side), and a somewhat unusual one in that its door doesn’t face the corner.
It is probably statutory that every small Indiana town have an Odd Fellows hall. If you click this photo and see it larger in Flickr, you’ll see the telltale “I.O.O.F.” (International Order of Odd Fellows) plaque on the facade’s top center. Hard telling what this building is used for now; it’s sad to see the second-floor windows boarded up.
While the Odd Fellows hall needed a little TLC, the rest of Monrovia’s commercial buildings looked pretty solid, and every one of them was in use.
There isn’t much more to Monrovia – a few homes, a convenience store, and the road out of town.
A school is the first thing you see when you enter Eminence, too. This old high school building is still in service, and appears to be well cared for. A more modern building sprawls behind it. There was no football game in Eminence; perhaps their team was in Monrovia this day.
There’s less to Eminence than Monrovia, although Eminence boasts one of the little white churches so common on the rural landscape. It is said that you can’t throw a rock in a small Indiana town without hitting one of these.
Of course, Eminence has its obligatory Odd Fellows hall. This one has been made into a bank and is probably the only Odd Fellows hall in Indiana with a drive-through.
The only other building at Eminence’s most prominent intersection once housed Gash & Co., but today stands in decay.
I liked the rustic look of the chipping and peeling whitewash around this building’s entrance. This is also the photo in which I make my cameo appearance.
Nobody was on the street in either Monrovia or Eminence on this morning, although I did encounter a few people when I stopped for a soda at a convenience store next to the church. But really, the best proof of life in these small towns is the graffitti sprayed on Gash & Company’s wall. Where there’s rivalry, there’s life!