This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The old hitching posts

If you take a walk along Milroy Avenue, you might notice this funny block of stone with a metal ring in front of the Thomas McCoy house, a large American foursquare built about 1910.
Or you might see this concrete block in front of the old Kannal House at College and Milroy.
Across the street is another, but without a ring.
And you might wonder what they are. They are hitching posts, or places to tie up a horse. Obviously, they are no longer used because seeing a horse in Rensselaer is rare. But before 1920 there were horses, and when you parked your horse, you needed something to tie it to.

The house that is behind the third of these blocks is a craftsman house that was not built until about 1920. I read once that the number of horses in American cities peaked in 1910, and after that there was a decline as motorized vehicles rapidly replaced them. So maybe the people who built the house did not see what was happening, or maybe having a hitching post was the socially correct thing to do.

Leaving Milroy, there is one by a house at Rutsen and Van Rensselaer, across the street from the Post Office. The house here was built around 1900 in the Queen Anne style, but has been heavily remodeled.
I have been looking for other hitching posts in Rensselaer. There is a block in front of the Delos Thompson house on Front Street. Is it a hitching post? If you know, tell us in the comments. (The block is not by the fence--that is a step. It at the bottom of the picture, partially hidden in the snow.)
The boulder below is in front of what used to be a church at the corner of Warner and Elza. It housed a variety of denominations over the years. and was still a church when I moved to Rensselaer. After the last group moved out (I think it was Iroquois Valley Church, now out Bunkum Road), it sat vacant for a while and then was sold to a person who wanted to develop into some kind of group home. He needed a waiver to do that, and there were neighbors who protested and blocked that plan. So the developer turned it into a cheap rental duplex, which needed no special waiver. That, if course, was not what the neighbors had in mind. There is a moral here, that before you try to block something, make sure the alternative is not worse.

I might have once known the purpose of this block, but if I ever did, I no longer remember. Was it a hitching post? Or a step to allow people to dismount from a buggy? Or something else?
Feel free to comment if you have anything to add.

Update: As a commenter noted, I missed on on East Washington. Go here to see it.


Rich said...

I found this blog interesting. I did not realize that those were hitching posts and I was always curious. Alhough concrete, I was just wondering why they are still in the ground. Are we going to go green and start using horses again?
How many of these are around town?

Anonymous said...

My daughter used our hitching post only once after she had been in a Little Cousin Jasper Parade. Yes, the hitching posts were for tying up the horse and used as a step down from the carriage.
Should we go back? I would have no place to keep a horse in town today. Is the Manis' barn the only one in town?

Anonymous said...

There is a hitching post in front of our house, too. Well, we live there, anyway - Kathy Parkison owns it. 203 E Washington St, the old Huntington/Halleck house.

jeffsgal212 said...

Marcia Johnston - a neighbor across the street from the house on the corner of Elza & Warner- told my husband that the block of limestone was a carriage stone - indeed, a stepping stone for those exiting carriages.