Places To Go, Things To See in Richmond, Indiana
By Cathy Seckman
Did you ever stop to think about Richmond, Indiana, the town that surrounds our current Heartland home at the MCL Cafeteria? Dropping off the freeway into Richmond, we always notice the National Road Welcome Center on the left. Those who come from the other direction might see the pretty city park. And as we drive up and down National Road choosing a place for dinner, we’ve probably all noticed the small brown sign for the Hayes Arboretum.
Well, that barely scratches the surface. There’s a lot more to know about Richmond. Local Heartlander Joe Augustin took some of us to see the Starr-Gennett Walk of Fame after the Spring meeting, and that got me curious about what else we’re missing. Those of you who stay overnight for the Heartland meetings might be interested in some of these local attractions.
Old National Road Welcome Center This is the gateway to all the area attractions. Besides providing information on the National Road itself, the center has maps and brochures for all the following attractions. The center is on the south side of National Road, just west of I-70 at Exit 156.
Starr-Gennett Walk of Fame Historic Site The park-in-progress is the site of the Starr Piano Co., which made pianos, player pianos, and phonographs in the early 20th century. They also had one of the first recording studios, and lots of early jazz musicians made wax cylinder masters right in Richmond. Hoagy Carmichael, who recorded there, said in his biography, “The birthplace of recorded jazz was a rambling brick building on the banks of the Whitewater River gorge on the edge of downtown Richmond, Indiana. The factory was the home plant of the Starr Piano Company and tucked away in one unused corner was the tiny phonograph recording studio that the firm called its Gennett Records division. It was primitive, simple and effective.”
The Walk of Fame has beautiful bronze sidewalk medallions shaped like 78 RPM records with mosaic tile portraits of the musicians and short biographies. There are about thirty medallions now, and fifty more are planned. A bicycle trail also runs through the site. To get there, drive west on National Road, all the way through downtown Richmond. After you pass under a railroad trestle, take an immediate left and drive into the site. Parking is up the hill on the right.
Glen Miller Park The 175-acre park is a great place to walk after dinner. Check near the tennis courts for the resident cats, and notice the springs where local residents fill water jugs. Look for hybrid geese in the pond, and near the snack bar, see if you can find a tall tree stump carved with an old man’s face. At the front of the park is a Madonna of the Trail statue, one of twelve placed along the National Road Trail to commemorate the pioneer mothers of covered wagon days. An All-America Garden near the statue contains 16,000 rose bushes and includes a German Friendship Garden. To get there, drive west on National Road toward Richmond, and it’s on the north side.
Hayes Arboretum The 466-acre nature preserve has hiking trails, Adena and Hopewell Indian mounds, an auto nature drive ($3), a history museum, and a bird-viewing room located in an 1833 dairy barn. To get there, look for the small brown directional sign on the north side of National Road. The address is 801 Elks Road, Richmond.
J&J Winery The 8-acre winery is at 3415 National Road West, Richmond. Walking trails and a pond are part of the décor, and a wood-fired oven is featured on the outdoor dining deck. Inside there’s a wine-tasting room, a bar, and a gift shop.
Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History On the campus of Earlham College at 801 National Road W, Richmond, the museum boasts its own Egyptian mummy and prehistoric mastodon.
Richmond Murals I’ve never noticed these, but there are ten historic murals scattered around Richmond. The Old National Road Welcome Center has brochures with directions to each mural.
Richmond Historic Districts There are four historic districts, including the Old Richmond District (German Village); the Starr District (Gas Light); the East Main Street-Glen Miller Park District (Millionaires Row); and the Railroad Depot District (Hoosier Bowery). Each district features historic mansions and landmarks. Walking tour maps are at the Old National Road Welcome Center.
Wayne County Historical Museum Located at 1150 North A St., Richmond, the museum has eight buildings filled with exhibits on Native American artifacts, pioneer life, and the early automotive age.
Antique Alley Indiana’s Antique Alley Trail #1 begins and ends in Richmond. There are 900 dealers on the trail, which includes a stop at Indiana’s largest antique mall, Webb’s, in Centerville. A Trail #1 map is at http://www.visitrichmond.org/pdfs/Trail1.pdf.
For more information about the Richmond area, go to http://www.visitrichmond.org/welcome.cfm or call 1-800-828-8418.
© 2010 by Heartland Chapter of ASI. All rights reserved.