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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Downtown Fowler

A few days ago I had some pictures of the Fowler town park. While I was in Fowler taking those pictures, I also took pictures of their downtown, which is mostly along a three block stretch of Fifth Street. The downtown is not in the center of the town--most of the residential area is to the north and east. The downtown still has a lot in it, though some of the retail business has moved to an area to the southeast.

One of the highlights of the downtown, at least according to the Benton County: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory, is the Fowler Theater, which is one of five Benton County structures on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1940 in the Art Moderne style and is still in use.
Continuing to the east along the north side of Fifth Street, the buildings are mostly from the 1890 to 1900 period and are mostly listed as in the Italianate style. Fowler itself owes its existence to the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s. The town got a major boost when the county seat was moved from Oxford to Fowler. It is named after Moses Fowler, a man who lived and made his fortune in Lafayette, but who owned a great deal of land in Benton County and was active in its affairs.
The only one of these buildings that gets special notice in the Benton County: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory is Neoclassical commercial building built in 1910, which I believe is this three-story structure.
The Benton County: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory also likes the Carnegie library, which has has a modern extension. The various county inventories always seem to like the old Carnegie libraries.
On the south side of Fifth Street, the business district begins on the east with a small but bizarre building that one cannot miss. It Fraser and Isham Law Office building, built in 1896. The windows in the front have curved panes of glass.
This is the other building in the downtown that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Next to it is the Fowler State Bank building, constructed in 1900 and still in use as the Fowler State Bank. It is in the Romanesque Revival Style.
There is nothing else too exciting on the south side of the street. I thought the Swope Building, Queen Anne style from 1895, was interesting, but the Benton County: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory lists it as non contributing, which probably means that it has had too many changes and no longer meets their criteria for a historic structure.
Below you see more of the south side of Fifth Street.
The railroad that gave Fowler its start is now part of a small feeder line, the Kankakee, Beaverville & Southern Railroad. Unlike Rensselaer, which has a rail line on which most of the rail traffic is through traffic, all the traffic on this small railroad is local, picking up or dropping off cars at businesses or elevators.

There is a lot more to Fowler and Benton County, but I had to get to an event and did not have time to explore more. Maybe I will get back some day and find out more.

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