History, Road Trips

Whispering Winds on the Brookville Road

Some years ago I photographed this old house on Brookville Road, US 52, in southeast Indianapolis.

House overlooking abandoned Brookville Road

I was with my buddy Sherrel, and we were on our way back from The Kopper Kettle restaurant on our Indiana Fried Chicken Tour. What we didn’t know is that for many years, this house was also a family restaurant that served fried-chicken dinners.

We stopped here because I saw an abandoned segment of the old highway, and because I’m a roadgeek I wanted to photograph it. This photograph is westbound. The photo of the house above is from about the same place, but I was facing the other way.

Abandoned Brookville Road

This house used to be the Whispering Winds restaurant. I didn’t know that until someone found information on my site about Brookville Road, and emailed me to ask if I knew anything about the Whispering Winds restaurant. She ate there many times while it was open, and wondered if the house still stood. I did a little research and found this photograph on a Facebook group. The poster said that the people in the photo were her grandparents and aunt, and they owned and operated the restaurant.

The house was built by Andrew Morehouse, although I’m unable to find exactly when. Morehouse’s family was said to live here for many years, and his wife died in 1864, which leads me to think the house predates that. Indiana University Library posted online a newspaper article telling some of this house’s story here.

Brookville Road is a historic road from Indiana’s early days. It connects Indianapolis to the town of Brookville, which is near Cincinnati. A historic marker is posted at this abandoned alignment that tells the road’s story in thumbnail.

Abandoned Brookville Road
Abandoned Brookville Road

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Road Trips

Standing in the middle of the old Brookville Road

I’ve made much on this blog about the Michigan Road, which was commissioned by the Indiana state legislature in 1828. I routinely call the Michigan Road the state’s first highway. With its 100-foot right-of-way and 270-mile length, it was the grandest and most important road Indiana built in its early years. But the state did fund and build other roads before the Michigan Road.

In 1821, the legislature set money aside to build ten roads from Indianapolis to various points around the state. One of those roads was to stretch 78 miles to the Ohio state line near Cincinnati via the little town of Brookville, for which the road was named. It was built starting in 1828. You can still drive the Brookville Road today; it is US 52 (and old US 52 in Indianapolis and near the Ohio line). It’s still called Brookville Road in Indianapolis.

As is the story with so many old roads that became modern highways, it has been straightened, widened, and moved in many places. Just before US 52 leaves Indianapolis to the east, a tiny strip of old pavement stands by, a segment of the road’s older alignment there. It’s in the upper left corner of this map segment, but it’s not hard to trace its original arc from there.

My buddy Sherrel and I were returning from our fried-chicken adventure in Morristown when we saw this abandoned segment. I know I can wear out my friends with my roadgeekiness, so I didn’t say anything. But then Sherrel said, “Hey, you wanna stop and take a look at that?” He didn’t have to ask me twice! I made a quick U turn and pulled right up onto the old road.

Abandoned Brookville Road

According to historical aerial imagery at MapIndy, this segment of road was in service until sometime between 1956 and 1962. The new alignment was lower than the old, making it necessary to dig out this chunk of the old alignment so a property owner’s driveway could connect.

Abandoned Brookville Road

The historic aerials show that the old road surface was removed east of this segment. But as this eastbound shot shows, few trees have grown up in the old roadway.

Abandoned Brookville Road

Sherrel wanted to walk the old roadway, but I was worried we’d be trespassing on private property. But looking at the property lines on MapIndy, this strip is still in the state’s right-of-way, and we could have explored it. Sorry Sherrel!

Check out some of the other abandoned roads I’ve known and loved. Read about it here.

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