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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hazelden and George Ade

On Saturday Newton County had an open house for Hazelden, the home of George Ade, perhaps the most famous person to come out of Newton County. (The contender is Sam Rice, a hall of Fame Baseball player. Read about him here.) Hazelden is a mile or two east of Brook and on its grounds are a golf course and a care center that used to be a hospital.
 In front of the house was the Newton County Bicentennial Bison. It featured the Punkin Vine Fair and George Ade.
 Below is a closer look at Ade and his house.
 There is a portrait of Ade in the entrance hallway. He was born in Kentland in 1866. His father was one of the original settlers in the area. George was not interested in farming and enrolled at Purdue in 1883, one of about 200 students at the college. He graduated in 1887, one of eight in his class. He worked briefly for a couple of Lafayette newspapers and in 1889 moved to Chicago to write for a Chicago paper. He writing ability was noticed and by 1893 he had his own column.
 When I arrived a George Ade re-enactor was telling a filled room about his life.
 Ade never married. He dated a woman while in Lafayette for several years but she eventually rejected him and married another. After he constructed Hazelden, he filled it with objects he found on his travels. Its collection of Japanese and Chinese items is impressive.
 Below is another example of the objects that decorate much of the house.
 The house has fourteen rooms and is done in the Tudor Revival style. It was designed by a Chicago architect and built in 1904, at the peak of Ade's career.
After Ade's death in 1944, the residence remained vacant. Eventually it was given to Newton County and there have been at least two rounds of renovation and repair. The bathroom fixtures appear to be old enough to be what was there when he died.
 Below is Ade's office. I liked the old telephone, something popular before my time.
 He wrote quite a few books, and they were mostly humous stories and fables. Not many people read them anymore but they are available in reprinted form on Amazon.

Some of his columns that appeared in the newspaper were on display on the second floor of the residence. Some of these were later combined into books.
Ade also wrote plays. The Sultan of Sulu was inspired by the Philippine Insurrection, one of America's lesser known (and less noble) wars. (My grandfather who died in 1919 served in it.) You can find some of the songs on Youtube. It was popular in its day and then was forgotten for decades until revived in 2009.
 Ade had several big hits on Broadway but in 1905 he wrote three plays that bombed. His writing slowed and in 1908 he turned his attention to Purdue University (he is the Ade in Ross Ade Stadium) and politics. He lived summers at Hazelden and wintered in Florida. His wealth came from his writing and also shrewd investment by his brother, who bought 2500 acres of Newton farmland for him.
Although Ade's career as a writer tapered off after 1908, Hazelden was visited by many celebrities and most of the big-name Republicans of the era.

I have lived in Rensselaer for over 40 years but this is the first time I have been inside Hazelden. When I saw that it was open to the public, I knew I had to go.

While on the topic of Newton County, CPX Incorporated is closing, laying off many workers. The plant made parts for GE appliances and GE said that the parts were not of high enough quality or quantity so they were seeking alternative suppliers.

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