On my recent day trip up the Michigan Road north from Indianapolis, I stopped in Burlington. This is a small town of about 600 people, 45 minutes north of Indianapolis and 15 minutes west of Kokomo.

Shortly after Carroll County was created in 1828, David Stipp, said to be a cold and stingy man, laid out Burlington. It was hoped to become the seat of a new county made partly from the Great Miami Reserve, which was two miles east. The Lafayette and Muncie Road crossed the Michigan Road here, but I’ve had no luck finding any information about that road. Burlington was an important stage stop, mill village, and trading center for both whites and Indians from the reservation. The town, named after a chief of the Wyandot native Americans, was incorporated in 1967.

The Burlington Methodist Church is the first major building you pass as you enter town from the south. It’s been expanded several times since it was built, probably in the early 20th century. The original church is made of cinderblock and the expansions are faced in limestone. The church’s original entrance was at the bottom of the steeple tower.

Burlington UMC

A little farther north is this building, which looks for all the world to me like a former fire station. I’ve seen historic photos of it containing the Burlington State Bank. I have photos of it (and the adjacent building to the left) containing a hardware store and later an antique store, but it’s currently vacant.

former Iron Rooster, Burlington

Across the street is Burlington Pizza, in this odd building. I’ve never seen a curved roof except on a Quonset hut before. This has been Burlington Pizza for at least 15 years.

Burlington Pizza

A little up the street on the west is this pair of buildings, which have contained a succession of restaurants. I remember the Dinner Bell, Treece’s, BJ’s, and now Hawg Heaven (which is closed) and Burlington Boathouse. The building on the right started out as Oyler and Huddleston’s dry goods store many, many years ago.

Burlington Boathouse

This handsome building was originally a general store, and was one for a very long time. But in the years I’ve been driving by, it’s been an antique store, a boutique, and now a coffee shop and cafe. It’s also been vacant at least once in my memory, and has undergone at least one renovation.

One More Cup Cafe

Across the street, the Burlington Church of Christ is mostly hidden behind that tree.

Burlington Church of Christ

This building’s unusual entrance features steep, curved steps and a cornerstone announcing 1908 and 1843, which must be the years the building was built and the church was founded, respectively.

Burlington Church of Christ

I’ve never had any idea what this building is, but it’s another one with an unusual roof.


Finally, shortly before crossing Wildcat Creek and heading out of town, here’s the American House. It’s a former stagecoach stop and hotel. When I first started passing through Burlington, it was painted a golden yellow and was obviously in poor condition. It’s undergone a renovation in the last five years or so. We had a Historic Michigan Road board meeting in Burlington in 2017 and got to take a tour of the house during its renovation. I have no idea why I didn’t photograph the inside while I had the chance, but I didn’t. I do know that several of these windows were beyond repair, so they had a skilled craftsman build new windows to the same design.

American House

On my old Roads site you can see this page, which shows photos of my 2008 visit to Burlington. It also shows some historic photos of town that I scanned from a book commemorating the town’s 150th anniversary.

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8 responses to “A walk through Burlington, Indiana, on the Michigan Road”

  1. J P Avatar

    I am familiar with many of Indiana’s small towns but not this one. It seems unusually prosperous for not being on a major highway or being a county seat.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I used to work with a guy who was “from Kokomo” but in reality he grew up in Burlington. Apparently it’s sort of a bedroom community of Kokomo, being 15 minutes away. I assume that explains some of why there’s a there there in Burlington.

  2. retrocrank Avatar

    That must have been a very common design for Methodist churches across the rural midwest – – – it’s twin stood in my crossroads farmtown when I was a boy, was razed perhaps in 1980 when the Methodists and EUB merged and took over the sturdier EUB building.

    Also I’m guessing the unusual roof is a Shawver Truss (I think I spelled that correctly) on a former ag building. Shawver Trusses had that generic form and were one of the early ‘open ceiling’ barn truss roofs, they avoided the obstructing cross beams. When you see them in fields you can be assured there was a large hayfork that ran down the ridge and the upper level was a wide open haw mow. My guess is this one would have been grain storage with a rail spur nearby.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The basic shape of the church is very common for its time across the Midwest.

      Thanks for making a guess at that funky roof – I’ll research that thread.

    2. Brad Avatar

      This used to be a meat processing business and a meat locker. My parents stored some freezer meat there in ’79 while we were building a new house and living out of a camper

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Brad, thanks for filling in some of the missing info!

  3. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    Great stuff! That roof is quite wonderful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s more square footage in the roof area than in the building proper!

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