On the square in Crown Point

Margaret and I met her sister and her sister’s husband for lunch one Saturday at a place that’s about halfway between our homes: Crown Point, a town in northwest Indiana. None of us had ever been. It surprised us how nice it was and how much there was to do on the town square.

Memo to cities and towns everywhere: You may think planting trees throughout your downtown makes everything look nicer, but it blocks the view of your historic buildings. So cut it out. This the Lake County Courthouse, completed in 1878.

Lake County Courthouse
Lake County Courthouse

These life-size figurines were inexplicably on the lawn.

Figurines on the lawn

The courthouse isn’t used as a courthouse anymore; those functions have moved to a new complex a couple miles north. Today the old courthouse is filled with shops. We toured the basement shops — apparently this used to be the jail.

Lake County Courthouse catacombs
Lake County Courthouse catacombs
Lake County Courthouse catacombs

We had lunch at a pub a couple blocks north of the square and then hit the antique shops around the square. Every storefront had some sort of business in it. That’s not always the case in other Indiana towns with squares like this one. In Indiana, most small towns have struggled for years.

Crown Point square
Crown Point square

I have to think a key to Crown Point’s success is that it’s in a county adjacent to Illinois and is part of the Chicago area. Plenty of people live in the Indiana side of “the Region” and commute to Chicago to work.

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14 responses to “On the square in Crown Point”

  1. Ward Fogelsanger Avatar
    Ward Fogelsanger

    We visited Winterset Iowa in October…very similar downtown even had a Ben Franklin store. My hometown is getting visitors by building the largest rocking chair, mail box, teeter totter etc. Also getting more shops to replace retail stores killed by big box stores and the interstate.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, a Ben Franklin! My hometown had one near me with a gleaming stainless-steel soda fountain.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    It’s always nice to see downtown areas that are healthy and vibrant! Says a lot about the community I think.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Helps a lot that this one is so close to Chicago!

  3. susanJOY Hosken Avatar
    susanJOY Hosken

    Jim, I so enjoyed this post. I can’t travel much but enjoy armchair travel and you make it so interesting and enjoyable….thank you so much…I’ll say enjoy a fourth time! xoxo susanJOY

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My pleasure!

  4. Scott Bennett Avatar
    Scott Bennett

    I drove by this building dozens if not hundreds of times and never knew it was there until they cut down the trees in front of it. The Levi Stewart Building, Corinna, Maine. http://corinnapreservation.org/?cat=8

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a shame we can’t enjoy buildings for the trees!

  5. Reinhold Graf Avatar

    I like your consistent style of documenting the little things surrounding us.
    Your Canon makes beautiful intensive colours in the first two pics.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I feel like documentary photography is my main thing. I sure do a lot of it! And then ten years from now it will be good to visit again with my camera and see how things have changed.

  6. analogphotobug Avatar

    Those trees are there to make you work hard to see/find the unique views instead of the one that anyone could capture….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well now, isn’t that a good point!

  7. tcshideler Avatar

    The replacement of this courthouse is an enormous monstrosity northeast of town. I finally went back Tuesday for photos of it. It’s astounding in its horizontal scale and context, sitting across the road from a 1930s tuberculosis sanitorium.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me – I don’t look to NW Indiana as an architectural leader.

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