You’ll find the Moon-Lite Motel in Versailles (ver-SALES), Indiana, on US 421. That’s also the Auto Trail alignment of the Michigan Road. I’ve seen other photos with the neon fully working — the MOTEL letters light up in pink.
You never know what you’re going to get when you choose to stay at an old motel like this. Thank heavens for Google and its reviews, which say that this is one of the good ones.
US 421 through Versailles and Osgood in Ripley County, Indiana, was not originally the Michigan Road. The original alignment still exists, a little to the west. But in the early 1900s as the automobile came to prominence, the Michigan Road was rerouted so that these two towns could get in on the action.
As you enter Versailles from the south, you soon come upon the Moon-Lite Motel.
This traditional old-style motel is still operating and its rooms are all said to be recently remodeled.
Most of what’s worth seeing in Versailles is a few blocks off US 421. The Tyson United Methodist Church is probably the town’s crown jewel. I wrote about it before, here.
This art deco wonder still serves this congregation. They just added a lift on the side of the building to let people into the basement more easily.
Moving on from Versailles you quickly come upon Osgood. Its downtown is right on the Michigan Road. This Rexall drug store still operates.
Probably the best sight in Osgood is the Damm Theatre, if for no other reason that it’s so much fun to say. “Hey kids, let’s go to the Damm Theatre!”
Just before you leave town heading north, you come upon these curious metal sculptures.
Thanks to our signs, there’s no doubt you’re on the Michigan Road.
I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.
What was I thinking, photographing this Art Deco church building on expired slide film? I wanted beautiful photographs of my visit.
Beauty is, of course, subjective. If you enjoy the color shifts of expired film, you probably find these photographs to be lovely. I guess they are, in their own way. I just hoped for realistic color and clarity, as I wanted to share this church as you’d see it if you walked up to it.
It’s not that I couldn’t go back and photograph it again; Versailles (pronounced ver-SALES) is only about 80 miles southeast of Indianapolis. I’m sure I’ll do just that one day and get exactly the photographs I want.
This church is named for its builder, James Tyson, who made his fortune as the first investor in Walgreen’s drug stores. Completed in 1937, Tyson built the church as a tribute to his deceased mother, a charter member of this congregation upon its 1834 founding.
This carefully maintained building of brick, terra cotta, copper, aluminum, and glass famously contains not a single nail in its construction. Many of its materials were imported from around Europe, but the oak pews are of local timber.
I was inside for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association; Versailles is a Michigan Road town. Two alignments of the Michigan Road pass through Ripley County, of which Versailles is the seat. The original 1830s alignment lies a few miles to the west, but the road was rerouted through Versailles at the dawn of the automobile era.
Such an architectural gem is unusual for a small Indiana town like Versailles. Tyson built two other Art Deco buildings here: a library and a school. The church is arguably the loveliest of the three.