Road Trips

Old US 31, the Michigan Road, and the Dixie Highway on the south side of South Bend, part 2: Northbound

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

We spent a lot of time in South Bend on this trip because it is our hometown. I covered the north side of South Bend here and downtown here. On the south side, southbound Old US 31 followed Main Street (covered here), and northbound followed Michigan Street. This post covers the northbound route.

Heading north from Chippewa Ave., after passing a large church and some empty storefronts, Michigan St. and its surrounding area becomes predominantly residential. This map shows the many houses along the route.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

The South Bend Motel stands at the corner of Klinger St., advertising its clean rooms.

South Bend Motel

Its leaning neon sign lights up every night. (I made this image on a 2009 visit.)

South Bend Motel

I stopped a few blocks north at Woodside St. for a photo of the road and its three wide lanes. And now please take a walk down memory lane with me, as my childhood home is four blocks east of here. These are part of my old stomping grounds.

Northbound in the old stomping grounds

The street sign in the photo says “Woodside Av.” The old embossed street signs all said “E Woodside St” until the city replaced them all several years ago. Inexplicably, narrow Woodside became an avenue in the process.

This grocery store was called Cira’s in my day. It had maybe seven aisles. The prices were higher than the chain supermarkets, but the meat counter was well respected. Its primary advantage to my family was that it was close enough by that Mom could send me for milk if needed. The bars across the windows are a recent addition, and it saddens me to think that a business in my old neighborhood needs them.

South Bend Market

Across the street and a block north at Oakside St., this banquet facility used to be Hans-Burkhart Pharmacy, Hans Haus Restaurant, and the Ranita Bar and Grill, from left to right. I bought candy, MAD Magazine, film for my cameras, and the occasional pen or pad of paper at Hans-Burkhart. The owner was the pharmacist, and he barely tolerated the kids who came in, so I was sure to be quick and quiet when I shopped there.

Banquet facility

In the 1980s, I walked this block every day because it was at the far end of my paper route. I always liked this house with its barber shop on the lower level. I was pleased to find the shop still operating.

Barber shop, downstairs

The shop’s little pole was motionless. My dim memories say it stopped spinning sometime in the late 1970s. It seems strange today that thirty years ago you recognized a barber shop by its pole, though even then poles were starting to disappear.

Barber pole

Here’s the view from Oakside Street north. The tall building in the distance is South Bend’s tallest building, and it’s in the heart of downtown.

Northbound

Leaving memory lane and driving north on Michigan St., I found another one of those strange US 31 shields in front of a used-car lot. The block-style numbers remind me of those used on the embossed cutout shields originally placed on US highways after the system was created. I’ve never seen shields like these anywhere but in South Bend, though. The combined “Business North” sign is also a South Bend creation; the standard is to have separate Business and North signs.

Funky US 31 shield

This building about a mile north on Michigan St. just south of Indiana Ave. used to be a Bonnie Doon drive-in. Imagine a day when the locked gate was gone, the sign’s first two parts still read “Bonnie” and “Doon,” and you could get a great tenderloin and wonderful made-in-South-Bend ice cream here. At one time, Bonnie Doon locations dotted Michiana. I think only one Bonnie Doon, on the Lincoln Highway in neighboring Mishawaka, remains.

Bonnie Doon

Sadly, South Michigan St. is best known for blight. Here’s a map from Indiana Ave. on the south to the north split. The worst blight is between Indiana Ave. and Western Ave., which is where Michigan Street curves into St. Joseph Street.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

This northbound photo is taken from just south of Sample St. State Road 933, which used to be US 33 before it was truncated at Elkhart, joins US 31 here.

Northbound

Notice how the signs have seen better days. It’s amusing how the state just plastered small SR 933 signs over the larger US 33 shields. “Staduim A&C Center” (which refers to the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center at Notre Dame) signs like this one have been posted around town for as long as I can remember, at least back to the 1970s. I would not be surprised if most of these Stadium signs are originals.

Faded signs

While there has been some new construction, like the sprawling Juvenile Justice Center…

Juvenile Justice Center

…the razed blocks and the boarded up buildings team up with the liquor stores and strip clubs to give the near south side its unfortunate ambiance.

Boarded up

A few active churches still stand on South Michigan Street, providing a necessary counterpoint.

Christ Temple

The Victory Bar’s sign is a landmark close to downtown.

Victory Bar

So is the Hope Rescue Mission’s often-photographed neon sign.

Hope Rescue Mission

This Greek Orthodox church building anchors its block.

St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church

Just before Western Ave., Michigan St. curves to the east and becomes St. Joseph St., Michigan St. continues beyond the trees and across Western Ave., as this photo shows. I’m told that St. Joseph St. was a glorified alley before it was rebuilt to handle US 31 traffic.

Bypassing Michigan St.

As Michigan St. becomes St. Joseph St., the beauty of South Bend’s downtown returns.

Bypassing Michigan St.

Shortly after rounding the curve, the Century Center appears on the right. Built in the early 1980s, it was an early home to the Studebaker National Museum. My high school’s drama club held its plays and musicals in its auditorium, making the Century Center a second home in those days for my thespian pal Brian.

Century Center

Quite a bit of the Lincoln Highway was torn up to build the Century Center and other city projects along the river here. A 1916 city map I have on hand says that the Lincoln Highway used to connect with Washington St. as I’ve drawn it in green on this map. The Century Center is the series of buildings at the green line’s north end.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Across from Century Center is the Marriott Hotel, its flat facade facing St. Joseph Street.

Marriott Hotel

As old US 31 heads north from the Century Center and the Mariott Hotel, at Colfax Ave. towards LaSalle St., it curves to meet the old Michigan St. alignment. On the left in this photo you see the Morris Performing Arts Center, which was shown more extensively in the article about Old US 31 in downtown South Bend. On the right, out of the photo, is the St. Joseph River.

St. Joseph St. northbound

Let’s take one last look at South Bend before we depart. The St. Joseph River hugs St. Joseph St. just north of the Century Center. This photo, off the Colfax Ave. bridge, is of the Century Center’s back yard. The orange girder structure is Keepers of the Fire, a 1980 abstract expressionist sculpture by Mark di Suvero. Its erection was controversial to the tune of, “The city spent taxpayer dollars on steel beams painted orange?

St. Joseph River from the LaSalle St. Bridge

Next: We finally leave South Bend and head to Lakeville and La Paz.

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Road Trips

Old US 31, the Michigan Road, and the Dixie Highway on the south side of South Bend, part 1: Southbound

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

We spent a lot of time in South Bend on this trip because it is our hometown. I covered the north side of South Bend here and downtown here. In this post I cover the south side of South Bend, southbound. Next post I’ll cover it northbound, as the two directions followed two different streets.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

When US 31 was created in 1926, it followed Michigan Street all the way through South Bend. This highway’s predecessor, original State Road 1, did the same upon its 1917 creation. But in about 1971, US 31’s route was changed. From just north of downtown, at Marion Street, southbound traffic was diverted to follow Main Street for three miles, to Chippewa Avenue on the south side of town. This section of Main Street was made one way southbound at this time. The map shows how these roads were configured downtown at that time.

The corresponding section of Michigan Street was made one way northbound, except through five blocks downtown, where traffic was diverted one block east to follow St. Joseph Street, also one way northbound. It was at about this time that the five blocks of Michigan Street now bypassed were converted into an unloved pedestrian mall called River Bend Plaza. Suburban shopping centers and malls had drawn away many people who used to shop downtown. River Bend Plaza was meant to draw them back, but it failed. The city began to remove River Bend Plaza in 1986, and in time returned these blocks of Michigan Street to two-way vehicular traffic. Through traffic still followed Main and St. Joseph Streets, however.

In about 2017, the city returned Michigan/St. Joseph and Main Streets to two-way traffic. The southbound split at Marion Street was converted into a roundabout, as was the merge at Chippewa Avenue.

After Brian and I finished exploring Michigan Street downtown, we drove over to Main Street to begin our journey south. This is a view of Main Street southbound, from Marion Street, one block before the intersection with westbound Business US 20 at LaSalle Street. South Bend’s tallest building is just beyond it.

Old US 31 in South Bend

The 1898 St. Joseph County Courthouse stands on Main St. at Washington.

St. Joseph County Courthouse

South of the courthouse, on Jefferson Blvd., stands the old First Bank building. The First Bank of South Bend renamed itself First Source Bank in the 1980s and then built the new steel-and-glass headquarters I showed in the post about Michigan Street downtown. Quite a difference in architecture!

First Bank building

South of downtown, Main and Michigan Streets parallel each other, separated by one block. Main St. becomes lined with light industry and small businesses.

Southbound Main Street

This old McDonald’s sign was a relic even in 2007. I’ve never seen another one like it.

McDonald's Sign

When Main St. reaches Chippewa Ave. on the south side, Business US 31 follows Chippewa east for a block. Then it curves south onto Michigan St. where the road resumes two-way traffic, as the yellow highlighting on this map shows.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Here’s the intersection of Main and Chippewa, southbound. I used to ride my bike every Saturday morning to bowl in a league at an alley on this corner. Looking back, maybe it wasn’t so bright to ride my 3-speed across a busy highway while carrying a 14-pound ball.

Southbound Main St. at Chippewa Ave.

Here’s a northbound view of Main Street from the same spot.

Northbound Main St. at Chippewa Ave.

This shot is of Chippewa Ave. east toward Michigan St. The curve onto Michigan St. was being rebuilt. On the south side of town, “Business” never managed to get appended to any of the old US 31 shields.

Chippewa Ave. to SB Michigan St.

This map shows Business US 31 from Chippewa Ave. to the St. Joseph Valley Parkway, which carries US 31 and US 20 around the city. (South Bend old-timers just call it “the bypass.”) Southbound US 31 comes in from the west on this map, but exits to rejoin its original alignment at the interchange.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

When we made our trip, Michigan St. was being rebuilt at Chippewa Ave., as this southbound photo shows. The single lane with the concrete median in the photo is for traffic turning left onto Michigan from westbound Chippewa. It’s a tight fit for city buses. Southbound.

SB Michigan St. at Chippewa Ave

Here’s the northbound view from the same spot. This is where Michigan Street becomes one way northbound.

NB Michigan St. at Chippewa Ave

Shortly we came upon the interchange that brought US 31 back to its original alignment. I don’t remember a time when this interchange didn’t exist, but during the years I lived in South Bend the bypass did not continue east of here. The future road’s right-of-way lay empty for years, however, and malls, schools, and neighborhoods were built around it. One of my aunts owned a house a few doors north of the right-of-way in one of those neighborhoods. Today, the elevated highway crowds the neighborhood. Roadfan.com has a great timeline of the St. Joseph Valley Parkway.

Entrances to the St. Joseph Valley Parkway

Just past this interchange, at Jackson Road, stands a historical marker that explains how land north of here originally belonged to Michigan. It’s why I sometimes joke I’m from extreme southern Michigan.

Indiana Territorial Line marker

As we drove south out of town, US 31 was four undivided lanes all the way to Lakeville. Here’s the southbound highway at Johnson Road.

SB US 31 at Johnson St.

This road has changed dramatically since 2007, when I made these photographs. The intersection at Michigan and Chippewa is now a roundabout. The interchange with the St. Joseph Valley Parkway is unchanged, but the view from Johnson Road south looks nothing like this. Johnson Road is now elevated over US 31 on a bridge, most of these homes and businesses have been razed, and a new alignment of US 31 curves to the west (right) from here.

In Part 2 of this tour of South Bend’s south side, we travel Michigan Street north from Chippewa Avenue to downtown.

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Road Trips

Old US 31, the Dixie Highway, and the Michigan Road in downtown South Bend, Indiana

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

Signs

In downtown South Bend, US 31 passed through town along Michigan Street with traffic flowing northbound and southbound. In the late 1960s, Michigan Street was made one-way northbound from downtown to deep into South Bend’s south side. At the same time, the same section of Main Street, one block to the west, was made one-way southbound, and southbound US 31 was routed onto it — except for five blocks of downtown, where US 31 was rerouted one block east onto St. Joseph St. In those five blocks, Michigan Street was closed to traffic and a disastrous pedestrian mall was built, which I wrote about here.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

All of this helped traffic flow through South Bend a lot more efficiently, but was no good for downtown’s businesses. And then in 1982 a new US 31 was completed to bypass South Bend to the west, well into Michigan. Original US 31 became Business US 31 in South Bend. Parts of the road are also signed as State Road 933, parts that used to also carry US 33 until 1998 when that road was truncated to end in neighboring Elkhart County.

Sometime during the 1990s, the pedestrian mall was removed from four of those five blocks, which were restored to two-way traffic. Then in 2018, all of Michigan/St. Joseph and Main Streets were restored to two-way traffic. This article shows Michigan Street downtown after it was reopened to two-way traffic, but while Main Street was still one way south and the rest of Michigan Street was still one way north.

In the last post in this series, my friend Brian and I had traveled south on former US 31 to where the southbound route split from Michigan Street to follow Main Street. We made a left as soon as we could to return to Michigan Street. This northbound photo is at the north end of the isolated Michigan St. alignment where St. Joseph St. curves to become Michigan St. again. This is where Old US 31 meets the Michigan Road, built in the 1830s to connect the Ohio River to Lake Michigan and enable white settlement of northern Indiana. The Michigan Road followed what is now Lincolnway West to LaSalle Street, where it turned right onto Michigan Street.

Northbound

The 1921 Morris Performing Arts Center stands at Colfax Avenue and Michigan Street, gorgeous in the early daylight.

The Morris Performing Arts Center

The Morris was first the Palace Theater, a burlesque house and later a movie theater. During the downtown’s malaise years of the 1970s and 1980s, the theater, renamed the Morris Civic Auditorium, had fallen into disrepair. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life there at Christmastime in 1987 and the building was in a sorry state. But when I saw Heart play there in 2006, it was clear that great pride had been taken in the old theater’s restoration. (South Bend is my hometown.)

Morris Performing Arts Center

South of the Morris and across Michigan Street stand the modern twins, the 1st Source Bank headquarters and the Marriott Hotel. These buildings went up in the 1980s in the ongoing fight to fill the holes left by the aborted Associates Superblock. Their design was somewhat controversial at the time, but have become a point of pride for the city. These buildings fill the block; the Marriott borders St. Joseph Street.

First Source Bank and Marriott Hotel

When the city tore out the unloved pedestrian mall in the 1980s, it rebuilt Michigan St. as two lanes with pull-in parking. The revival has had reasonable success, but there’s still some work to do to bring businesses back to this strip. In the photo below, which is northbound from Michigan St. at Jefferson Ave., the street is blocked for a foot race.

Northbound

It was always hoped that the State Theater, south of Jefferson on the east side of Michigan Street, would be returned to full use in some way, but none of the attempts ever caught on. At least the facade remains solid and strong.

State Theater

My mother took my brother and I to see Bambi and, later, Fantasia,here when they toured in the 1970s. We took the city bus downtown and walked to the theater and its huge auditorium. I was very young, so I’m glad I have some memories of those trips.

State Theater

The photo below looks northbound from south of Wayne St. The second building on the left is the former Robertson’s Department Store, now an apartment building. I remember that Robertson’s advertised its annual clearance sale on TV with the jingle, “Save a fourth, save a third, save a half, on every department, on every floor!” Here, have a listen:

Northbound

One block later, at Western Ave., the downtown strip of Michigan St. ends. This photo is from Michigan Street just south of Western, where it curves to become St. Joseph Street. You can see the bypassed section of Michigan Street on the left in this photo.

Bypassing Michigan St.

Next: A jaunt down Main Street, the onetime southbound lanes of US 31.

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Road Trips

Old US 31 and the Dixie Highway on the north side of South Bend, Indiana

On September 15, 2007, one of my oldest friends and I went in search of the original alignments of US 31 in Indiana from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site back then, but am now bringing those articles over to this blog.

Brian and I met in 1979 as seventh graders at Andrew Jackson Middle School on South Bend’s south side. Our friendship has endured, even though our paths at times diverged widely. Brian recently resettled back in our old hometown with his family. I’m a little jealous, because I love South Bend. If there were work in my field there, I might not be in Indianapolis today.

Old US 31 is Michigan St. in South Bend. As a kid, I thought it was so named because it was the street that led to Michigan. I’ve since learned that it’s because most of Michigan Street was the old Michigan Road, a historic Indiana highway. Not this part of Michigan Street, however — old US 31 doesn’t pick up the Michigan Road until it reaches downtown.

This map shows old US 31 as it passes by Notre Dame, enters South Bend at Angela Blvd., and heads toward downtown.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Here’s a northbound view of Old US 31 at Angela Blvd.

Old US 31 in South Bend

The University announces itself at the corner of Michigan and Angela Streets. Like most people from South Bend, we cursed the traffic on football game days. But unlike most South Benders, I feel sure, the University was part of my family’s daily life. My father built furniture on a freelance basis for the University for years, which paid our bills. I worked for the University one summer in the art museum’s gift shop. My brother graduated from Notre Dame and worked there for many years afterward.

Old US 31 in South Bend

Turning around, I took a southbound photo from the top of the steepest hill on old US 31 in South Bend.

Old US 31 in South Bend

Shortly the road crossed the St. Joseph River at Leeper Park. This bridge and its park have been the subject of many postcards over the years. It was built in 1914 of Bedford limestone in the style of the City Beautiful movement. George Kessler, who was a leading figure in that movement, designed Leeper Park and is said to have designed the surrounding neighborhood. The $140,000 worth of lights on the bridge’s posts were added in 2007, replicas of lights placed on the bridge in 1915 but long missing.

Leeper Park Bridge, South Bend

This bridge has escaped the wrecking ball at least once. I find it remarkable that it accommodates five lanes. The designers and builders could not possibly have anticipated the traffic that would eventually come.

Leeper Bridge deck

Shortly south of the bridge is Memorial Hospital, which has been swallowing neighboring land for years. My mother has a deteriorating black-and-white photograph of a great-grand-something-or-other sitting on the porch of a house he owned on Michigan St. that was razed for the hospital before she was born. More recently, my brother had an apartment in a house on Main St. that is now a parking lot for the hospital. Every time I visited him there, more houses had been razed.

This is the road alongside the hospital. Notice how the road splits at the end of this block. The southbound lanes shift to follow Main St. through most of the city. At one time, all US 31 traffic followed Michigan St.

Old US 31 in South Bend

Notice the strange block numbers and the skinny shield on the reassurance marker on the pole. Several of these line the road in South Bend. The one-piece Business South sign is also nonstandard and might even be hand-painted. Through my childhood in the 1970s, hand-painted signs were not unusual in South Bend, and some of those signs remain around town today.

I’m relying entirely on memory of my 12th-grade social studies class for the story I’m about to tell, because my research has found no facts. The teacher was also a county-city councilman, so I’d think his his story was sound.

The Associates was a national investment company founded and headquartered in South Bend. In the wake of Studebaker’s failure, the company wanted to build a new headquarters and revitalize downtown at the same time. To build the new downtown Superblock, as it was called, several downtown buildings were demolished. Until that time, US 31 followed Michigan St. through downtown. The Superblock project rerouted US 31, with southbound lanes following Main St. to the south side of town, and the northbound lanes following Michigan St. except for several blocks downtown, where it was routed one block east to St. Joseph St. Then in 1975, The Associates relocated to Chicago, leaving the project a shambles. The city became known for the holes in the ground where proud buildings, some historic, once had stood. Michigan St. had been torn out downtown so that an outdoor “pedestrian mall” could be constructed, but it succeeded only in making it necessary to park farther from downtown businesses. South Bend’s first mall was built at about the same time, and shoppers went there instead. It took South Bend 15 years to rebuild downtown after that.

The split road remains. Traffic warranted it anyway. Michigan St. couldn’t have been widened to accommodate as much traffic as the two one-way alignments do – up to five lanes in each direction. Main St. is one way south, Michigan-St. Joseph-Michigan is one way north, and the downtown segment of Michigan St. is two way. The map shows how it works.

Windows Live Maps, 2007

Here is where the road splits on the northside, with the southbound lanes heading off toward Main St. South Bend’s tallest building is about two-thirds of the way across the photograph.

Old US 31 in South Bend

Here’s southbound Old US 31 following Main Street. In South Bend, Main Street isn’t actually the town’s main street; that’s Michigan Street one block to the east.

Old US 31 in South Bend

Next: Old US 31 in downtown South Bend.

Much has changed downtown since Brian and I made this trip. The city has returned both Michigan and Main Streets to two-way traffic. They replaced the curve from southbound Michigan Street to Main Street with a roundabout.

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Bridge over the St. Joseph River at Leeper Park

Leeper Bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730
2008

Of all the bridges I’ve documented, this is one of my top favorites. It carries Michigan Street, former US 31, over the St. Joseph River in South Bend. Built in 1914, its 56-foot-wide deck was unusually broad in its day. Even today it carries two lanes of traffic in each direction, which certainly helped it survive. Starting in 1917, it carried State Road 1; in 1926 it began to carry US 31. A great deal of traffic passed over this bridge over the years. Had it been able to carry only one lane of traffic in each direction, it would have been insufficient and would have been replaced long ago. Even though US 31 was rerouted onto a bypass of the city many years ago, this road remains a highway as State Road 933 today. It carries about 31,000 vehicles each day.

Bridge standards evolve over time, and today this bridge’s 56-foot-wide deck is considered intolerable for that volume of traffic. I’m sure it survives primarily because it is in fair condition overall, according to its last inspection. I hope it gets good maintenance so it can keep serving, because it’s a beautiful bridge. Many excellent views are available in Leeper Park, which hugs the south bank of the river here on both sides of the bridge.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Leeper Bridge

A beautiful concrete-arch bridge north of downtown South Bend.

Image
Photography, Preservation

Beautiful old buildings in downtown South Bend

In the 1970s and early 1980s, my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, gleefully tore down as many of its old downtown buildings as it could. That’s how it seemed, at least. During most of my childhood, downtown was full of holes where old buildings used to be.

I didn’t much care in those days. My inner preservationist wouldn’t awaken for a few decades yet. But now I recognize how staggering a loss South Bend suffered.

One April day in 2010 I was in town on personal business. I’d needed a will for some time, as I wanted my estate (as modest as it was) to go into a trust for my children in the event of my death. My mom was a clerk in the probate court in St. Joseph County, and one of the attorneys she knew agreed to write my will for a nominal fee as a favor to her. It was a real kindness to me — even though I made good money, the majority of it went to child support and paying off the attorney fees from my divorce. Money was always tight then.

The attorney’s office was in the J.M.S. Building, on the northeast corner of Main and Washington Streets. (In South Bend, Main Street isn’t the main street; Michigan Street, one block to the east, is.) Completed in 1910, it is named for John Mohler Studebaker, at the time Vice President of Studebaker Corporation. It was the tallest building in the city then. The marble first-floor facade is not original; it was added in a renovation some decades ago. The interior underwent a renovation in the mid-2010s.

JMS Building

As you can see, I brought a camera with me this cool spring day. A friend had given me his old Canon PowerShot S80 as a gift and it had become my everyday camera. I slipped it into my coat pocket before I made the trip north that day. I had this blog then; I have no idea now why I didn’t share these photos with you when they were new! Better late than never.

The St. Joseph County Courthouse is on the opposite corner from the J.M.S. Building. Completed in 1898, it has been in use as a courthouse except from 1969 to 1971. The terrific Courthousery blog has the full story; read it here.

St. Joseph County Courthouse

This courthouse replaced one built in 1855 on the same site. The old courthouse still exists — it was moved to a lot behind this site! It was turned around to face Lafayette Blvd., which runs parallel to Main Street one block to the west. For whatever reason, I didn’t photograph the older courthouse this day — except for its cupola. If you’d like to see the rest of it, check out this entry on the Courthousery site.

Courthouse Cupola

I did photograph this 1889 church building, across the street from the older courthouse. It was originally the First Presbyterian Church, but today it houses a congregation called Ambassadors for Christ. This building also has a Studebaker connection, in that Studebaker Corporation co-founder John M. Studebaker contributed funds so it could be built.

Ambassadors for Christ church

Back on Main Street, I walked to the end of the block the courthouse is on to photograph the First Bank Building. That’s what I’ve always known it as, at any rate, as until the 1980s it was the headquarters of the First Bank and Trust Company. But as I researched it for this post, I learned it began its life as the Farmers Security Bank building upon its 1915 completion. I don’t know what became of Farmers Security Bank, but I do know what became of First Bank. They renamed themselves to First Source Bank around the same time they built a modern steel-and-glass headquarters on Michigan Street where one of the holes had been. The old headquarters remains, however, as an office building. It’s one of the most distinctive older buildings in town.

First Bank building

To wrap up my photo walk, I headed east to Michigan Street and then north to Washington Street to photograph the grand Palace Theater, which was built in 1922. In its day it was one of South Bend’s grand movie houses. I wrote about those movie houses here. Today, after a wonderful renovation, it’s known as the Morris Performing Arts Center. In 1987 — before that renovation, the interior not in great condition — I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen here. I told that story here. The last time I was inside the Palace was in 2006, when I saw the rock band Heart perform here. I got to meet the band that day, a story I told here.

Palace Theater

I was pleased to find these photos and remember this very nice day.

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