Several tiny towns dot the National Road in western Indiana, but most of them never developed any businesses of consequence (or at least no evidence survives) and today are little more than a collection of aging homes. Stilesville, however, apparently managed to develop a small local economy. I say apparently because Stilesville boasts an actual, albeit small, business district. In Stilesville, there’s some there there.

The town has, of course, faded considerably. I’m sure I-70 hastened its decline. Yet people were out and about in Stilesville as I walked the town taking photographs. Several came and went from the Cornerstone Pub, the town’s most prominent building. A 1925 road guide I’ve seen said that Stilesville offered lodging and a restaurant; I wonder if this was the place.

Stilesville, IN

I can’t quite make out the name of the bank painted on the building’s west end; can you?

Stilesville, IN

The main intersection, the one with the stoplight, had steps up to the sidewalk on three of the four corners. Fresh concrete had recently been laid on the fourth corner, but without steps, probably thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Stilesville, IN

A block west, Cooper’s Hardware and Clothing was almost certainly once a service station.

Stilesville, IN

Dig the buggy in front of this little old house.

Stilesville, IN

So why did Stilesville find success, but not Belleville or Putnamville or Manhattan, all similarly sized towns along the road? Perhaps Stilesville’s founders were a bold and forward-thinking bunch; after all, they built their little town in 1828, a year before the National Road began to be built in Indiana.

Stilesville, IN

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18 responses to “Stilesville”

  1. Christopher Busta-Peck Avatar

    I love that Greek Revival house with the buggy.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I almost didn’t photograph it, but then I noticed the buggy.

  2. Cameron Miller Avatar
    Cameron Miller

    Regarding the bank name: My vote is for “Citizens Bank”. See “Yearbook of the State of Indiana for the Year 1919”.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I found the 1920 yearbook on Google Books and found the Citizens Bank reference. That’s probably what this sign was for, but it didn’t make the letters before “State Bank” on the sign become any clearer to me!

  3. Rosann Avatar

    Stilesville was a vibrant town when a fire destroyed a large portion of the north side of town around 1920-21. Businesses included a movie theatre, 2 hotels, 2 grocery stores, and more. The large red building once housed one of our town’s grocery stores, appliance/ furniture store, bank, and a hardware store. The bank belonged to the Robard’s family. The Cooper’s Hardware and Clothing building was once a service station (Shell in my day). It now houses used furniture and overflow for Cooper’s OK Hardware across the street, which is our town’s one stop shop. The house with the buggy is the oldest house in our town. The Hendricks County Interim Report dates it to c. 1850. It now houses antiques and collectables. Come back sometime and see some of the other vibrant businesses Stilesville has to offer. Stilesville has gained businesses in the past few years that gives it a bright future.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thank you for sharing what you know! Sad that so much of Stilesville was destroyed in that fire.

  4. Alice Avatar

    I live in Belleville and I love going to Stilesville! How I wish I had known of it’s existance when I moved up here 5 years ago, I would’ve purchased a place there instead.

    You need to check out Cooper’s Hardware…that store has EVERYTHING you could ever imagine needing!

    The restaurant next to the Cornerstone Pub…ummmmmm they have such good food!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Coopers does look enticing. Maybe I’ll stop next time I’m out that way! I’ve heard it’s kind of the “general store” for your neck of the woods.

  5. Justin Avatar

    I am only 20 years old, but i have lived in Stilesville my entire life. I absolutely love this town. The Cornerstone Pub used to be a general store, and then a pizza place. Also the Mill Creek Inn (which was across the street, now closed down) was a very lively place.

    1. Jim Avatar

      So many people can’t wait to leave the town they grew up in; nice to hear that you like your hometown!

  6. Kim :) Avatar
    Kim :)

    I grew up in between Hazelwood and Stilesville. My family has farmed this area for years. We love going to Coopers and Showtime beauty shop. They both have that old time feel, when you walk in everyone knows everyone and you can just sit and talk. We are on our way to get our christmas tree from Cooper’s tonight! My parents got theirs there and they said they are selling them for 16 dollars no matter the size! Can’t beat that deal!It’s important to supprot local business, Wal-Mart has killed the little man by providing the entire world in one stop. But you can’t walk into Wal-Mart and ask Rosie how the grandkids are, or Karrie how her day cutting hair has been. We will always support places like Cooper’s OK Hardware, Cornerstone Pub, Showtime Family Hair Care!

    1. Jim Avatar

      The day I was in town, Cooper’s was very busy. I stop in a lot of small Indiana towns but very, very few as busy as Stilesville was that day!

  7. Scott Avatar

    Across from the current Corner Stone pub was the Mill Creek Inn, It was a very large bar and grill that took up two entire buildings. It was a huge attraction, until it closed, and I think burned, around 2005. In the 1950s, it only occupied one of the buildings and was known as “Shine’s Tavern.” To the west of there, on the now empty parking lot, was another finer, but this one was attached to a hotel. It was owned and operated by a married couple. It was in busimness until around hee early 1970s. From the 1950s until around 2000, Stilesville was the place to go for breaded pork tenderloins and all you can eat catfish.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you for filling in these blanks! I wish I had driven through with a camera before all these buildings were demolished.

  8. Janice Gould Avatar
    Janice Gould

    Now all Stilesville has is the post office and a dollar general store. No gas stations and no hardware. And no flower shop too.
    Maybe a auto shop on US 40 across from the dollar store.
    And the fire station 😊😊
    And maybe 2 churches that still have services.
    But still a a great place to live a quiet life😍😍

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I drove through Stilesville last week and was sad to notice that most of the businesses have closed. But: quiet is not to be underestimated!

      1. Brian Shaner Avatar
        Brian Shaner

        I grew up outside of Stilesville. I went to the school there in 1982 &1983, 1st and 2nd grades before being bused to Amo because of lack of students. The Mill Creek Inn did have the best tenderloin in the state and Coopers Hardware had anything you needed back then, even 2 gas pumps. My mother worked at Stilesville Implement auction, the largest in the midwest. The town originally had a grist mill on the northwest side on Mill Creek near the CR 625 bridge. We found evidence of it as kids, playing in the creek under the old steel trellis bridge. That Mill was why Stilesville thrived early on.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Sad that Stilesville doesn’t have any of that still. Cooper’s was still in business the first time I stopped in town, in 2006, at least.

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