[photo] This house, often called the "Sunken Garden House," sits on the northwest corner of the intersection at College Avenue and Wayne Street. It now belongs to Manchester College and will be developed into the Gladdys Muir Peace Garden.
Ralph Rarick, an active evangelist, Vinna Harshbarger Rarick and their three daughters came to North Manchester in 1925 to find a place to build their dream home. They had concluded that this town would provide the needed stability for the family along with some cultural advantages of the College community.
They chose the triangular plot on the northwest corner of College and Wayne limited by the railroad tracks. Weeds were high; one corner held a trash heap, another a cement foundation of a long-deserted barn and an old fence and several large billboards were part of the scenery. From the time of the purchase in the fall of 1925 until the family moved into their new house at the end of August, 1929 there were many long days of hard physical labor and hours of careful planning.
At the same time, the evangelistic meetings which took Ralph from one corner of the United States to another and even two full summers in Canada must be continued to provide support for the family needs.
Ralph Rarick's journals started on his 16th birthday in 1909 and contained daily entries until 1933 when the family moved from North Manchester to the Mexico Home as the superintendent of that home for the aged and the orphanage. This set of 42 books written in his unique script were discovered in 1996 and are a wonderful gift to his family. Now a collection of selections from the diaries with pictures has been prepared by the Rarick daughters and we received permission to share information which might be of interest to members of the Historical Society.
The diaries give us glimpses of life in North Manchester in this period of time. Literally hundreds of names are mentioned of business people, neighbors and friends. Plays, musical events and other school activities which they attended are included. The fact that one year school was delayed because Thomas Marshall was not completed is mentioned. A train wreck at the edge of the College campus disturbs a night's sleep; the progress building the house at 504 Miami (by a relative) is followed.
The story of the transformation of an old stone quarry into the famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia served as an inspiration to Ralph and he wrote, "Much like that old stone quarry is our lot at North Manchester. But we purpose to do a lot of planning and bestow a heap of labor on it, to the end that it may develop into a beautiful sunken garden and a unique beauty spot in North Manchester."
Both the house and the garden were widely admired. The Home Economics teacher from the College regularly brought her class to visit since she felt the house and premises were such an outstanding example of good planning. Many local people came by to see the beautiful garden in the summer.
With the Wall Street crash a few short weeks after the Raricks moved into the house the whole country stumbled into a period of uncertainty. The evangelistic field could no longer be considered dependable for the family support. At the end of 1933 the Raricks accepted the position as superintendent of Mexico Home and reluctantly left their dream home. The home was rented for a time to the Lantis family (Marie Holsinger) and later Mildred Heeter and Grace Fox lived there.
Today the triangular property is once again in the hands of Manchester College and will become the Gladdys Muir Peace Garden and the Meeting House.
The house is sometimes known as the Sunken Garden Home.
June l925--Received this communication from Brother S. Burkett who has the North End Real Estate Agency at North Manchester: Some one was telling that you might be interested in some investment in our town. If so and I can be of any service to you, I will be pleased to take it up with you. Yours truly, S. Burkett
September, 1925--Vinna and I spent the afternoon in the company of Bro. S. Burkett, seeing some properties for sale in North Manchester.
September 11, 1925--Letter to J. Edson Ulrey, Executive Board, Manchester College
I am wishing to buy a building site at North Manchester and the lot I am interested in is, as I understand, owned by the College. It is the three-cornered parcel of ground, cut off by the railroad just northacross the street from the new dwelling of Bro. Henry Roeger. I am informed that very likely it can be bought by someone of our Church of the Brethren who wishes to build a home on it -that the reason the College bought it was to keep away everything that would not be for the good of the College
Will the College sell it to me? That is the first question I would like to have answered. Find stamp enclosed for your reply...
September l4--Letter from Bro. S. Burkett
I will get on line on the three-cornered piece that belongs to the College. The Board will meet this week and will decide what to do. That will make a fine place to build.
September l8--Letter from S. Burkett
I am now able to quote you price on the three-cornered Lot owned by the College. $650 is the price, with abstract to date. There is another party that wants it. I told him you have first chance. There would have to be a clause in the deed that there would be no business houses built thereon. If you want this let me know at once.
September 20--Letter from S. Burkett
Your letter received. Yes, I will hold the lot for you until October l... The College is selling this at a close margin. I will look up the abstract. I will have to get a new one, as I never had one when I sold it to the College.
October 10, 1925--Rarick to Burkett
As stated in my telegram to you this afternoon, I have decided to purchase the triangular parcel of ground there at North Manchester.... I hereby submit the following purchase plan, as the plan that would suit me best and which I trust will be satisfactory to the College.
Purchase price. As per your offer - six hundred and fifty dollars ($650) Down Payment. October 10, 1925 the present date, $30 cash, which amount is in my enclosed check. $100 cash to you by Nov. l, making a cash total of $130.
Balance by Contract. Beginning in 1925, and covering a period of two years..Nov. l, 1925 - Oct. 31. 1927. The balance of $520 to be paid by four payments in the two years, spaced six months apart, each payment being $130, interest to be paid with principal each time; at the rate of 7 per cent. College is to furnish Deed with abstract up to date when the last payment is in, on November l, 1927.
This proposal was favorably received.
March 2, l926--letter from S. Burkett
There is an advertising company wants to put up an advertising board on your lot. They will give a check of $6.00 for the year and it may be removed any time you want to build. There is to be no tobacco or cigarette ads.
P.S. I have been filling some ashes in the lot right in front of where you would build. That will save you some filling.
(In May 1928, a second sign was placed on the lot for a second $6. a year)
On May 7, 1926 they made the first plantings on the plot.. 3 tiny elm trees.
In November 1926 S. Burkett reported the removal of a fence, trimming a tree and that he would burn brush later.
October 24, 1927 the final payment -$134.55 - was paid on the lot and the deed and abstract was received November 9, 1927
From a letter from a sister:
Well, I almost envy you if you are going to get to have a home of your own. It's a big proposition to build these days when labor is so fearfully high.
January, 1929--Now we study and study, then study some more. One day we talk up the feature and advantages of one house. And then later it is another one. At this time ... we were thinking to build the Maryland ready-cut house of the Aladdin Co., Bay City, Mich.. but purchase our materials locally from the Ulery Lumber Co. (They actually built patterned somewhat after the Darlington of this company.)...We have to be as economical as we can be and still put the proper value into a building. We will have to borrow a large percent of the money.... We feel we ought to start at the north end and build a small house there. Then, if our ship ever comes in, we can build a nicer, larger house on the main corner and rent the small one we first built. It will be easy to rent at North Manchester....
Maybe we could get the garage (Oakland plan from Aladdin) up before Conference. The house foundation could of course go in when the garage foundation does. Then we could all have the garage for our headquarters during Conference.
January 14, l929--I recently made a new lease for the space of the two large signboards on our lot...Received a check of $15 from the company.
January 18, 1929--Near noon Bro. Burkett drove me downtown to the Frantz Lumber Co. There we had a conference with Mr. Frantz and others about our prospective new home.... After dinner Mr. Frantz arrived with a contractor- George E. Crist. The three of us made some measurements and observations on our lot.. The next morning ... I received from Mr. Frantz his proposition on our hoped-for house, in competition with the Aladdin Co....
February l5, 1929--In the late afternoon I had a brief interview with General Contractor George E. Crist. At 7:00 p.m. ... he and I and Vinna spent two hours in formulating plans for the new house and garage...(The next day) Vinna and I looked over some samples of brick down at the Frantz Lumber Co.
February 18--Gave myself largely to drawing up plans and specifications for our contemplated new house and garage. In the evening I submitted same to our contractor....
February 28, 1929--Received the letter you forwarded from Contractor Crist.... Today I mailed three posters which I prepared this week, showing more clearly what is wanted in the way of a garage to go with our house. I even made a nifty drawing of the garage in watercolors.
March 13, 1929--Thursday morning I had an interview with our contractor. He is remodeling the old gymnasium at the College. I showed him ... our latest idea of a house in the Darlington. He was very favorably impressed.... Our plan to attach the garage right to the house is an excellent one he thinks. He is going to figure on that house now.... I wired the Aladdin Co. to send me the detailed specifications of the Darlington.
April 2, 1929--Spent the afternoon largely in driving stakes for our new house and attached garage.
April 8, 1929--(We) motored out and looked at the different brick effects to be found in the houses of North Manchester.... We are to return next Monday to select the brick for our new house...with a man representing the Streator Brick Co. of Illinois. In the evening we called on our contractor.... Another present was his nephew, the mason - Paul Crist.
April 16, 1929--Most of the forenoon I spent in drawing the basement plan for our new house, as the foundation work is soon to be begun by the mason -Paul Crist.
April 26, 1929--At noon I called at the home of ... Walter Boyer... connected with the office of the Water Dept... to urge the city's attaching of a water line from the street to the site of our new house, so the concrete men can have water to begin the concrete foundation. Also that a sewer line be placed between us and Bro. Roegers to take care of the street water which has up to now been left to run down into our lot. Indications are that I will get action on both these matters very soon.
April 30, 1929--A number of loads of dirt were hauled in this week from the town gravel pit for fill, by Bro. John Winger.
May l--the city sewer crew began putting in a new sewer and on May 4, the water line was put in from the main east side of North Main(?Miami) Str. across the road west to the site of our new house, by the men of the city water department headed by Marshall Earl Heeter.
May 7, 1929--Mr. Rarick began camping on the property in a tent each week and going home on Saturdays. The tent was on the lower level and "Car was parked on the road above as near as possible to it. Then, by connecting the trouble light to the car, I had electric illumination for the tent."
May 8--a railway carload of 15,000 face brick arrived. Some of the brick were transferred from the track down at Big Four to our lot in a big truck by employees of the Ulrey Lumber Co... ..I assisted in unloading and stacking...
May 11, 1929--Contractor Paul Crist, several of his men and I, measured, staked off and determined the foundation lines for our new house.
May 15--I occasionally bought a brick of ice cream from Gilberts and a time or two I ate down town at the City Lunch. Paul Crist's men finished digging trenches for foundation footing... they also dug out the vegetable cellar and coal bin, both of which will be positioned under the floor of the attached garage.
May l7--Concrete was poured..
May 22--the hollow tile was unloaded for our new house. The basement walls are to be of poured concrete, with a thickness of nine inches. Walls above basement to be of hollow tile, an inch air space and outside of that, brick.
June l--the Workmen finished the forms for the foundation and the following Monday the concrete was mixed and poured into the forms for the foundation ...There was quite a crew of men on the job and it was a scene of considerable activity and hard work. To finish, it was necessary to work overtime and after dark. June 6 the forms were removed and on the 8th the walls were started. The mortar color is black. A reenforced concrete floor has been made for the attached garage and underneath it is the vegetable cellar and coal bin. Coal can be dumped into the bin through a manhole in the garage floor.
June 14, 1929--In the afternoon Vinna and I motored to Laketon to see some displays of shingles accompanying our chief contractor.
June 21--The first story window and door frames are placed.
June 28--This day and next the carpenters were busy placing the second floor joists and laying the sub floor.
July 2--The dormers in second story... were started today.
July 3--The upstairs partitions and ceiling joists were placed in and the flat roof placed on the garage section on the north.
July 5--The masons worked on the two gable sections of the wall... the concrete floors are in for the basement, fruit cellar and coal bin and on July 6 the gable sections of the house wall were finished with a neat louver in each. The chimney also was furthered and took on a new height. Some sheathing was nailed on the rafters.
July 8--This week I had my headquarters in the new house. Slept in the fruit room when the weather was inclement ...when the weather would permit I slept in the outer basement part...Our Bulldog pipless furnace waits for installation.
July 9--The first shingles were applied today. But the colors were not properly placed for the best appearance... It was decided to take them all off and start over, eliminating the red shingles entirely.
A 20 inch in diameter concrete tile extending eight feet below the basement floor will receive an iceless cooler, operating from a windlass above in the kitchen stair landing just outside the kitchen door.
July 15--A ridge roll of green shingles was placed on the roof of the house... carpenters began with the nailing on of the celotex, to be used instead of lath as a base for the plaster where there are studding... The electricians were out to plan the job of wiring. He who has the job of this is Homer W. Leedy, proprietor of The Electric Shop.
July 23--Paul Crist and I planned the two arched openings in the living room... at the Ulrey Lumber Yard then we marked some lumber the way it would have to be sawed, then sawed it out on the band saw in the shop there.
I planned and ordered this week some built-in things, such as medicine cabinet, telephone niche and ironing board. Carpenters built... the stairway leading from upstairs hall to the attic. The attic is floored to make a convenient and commodious place for storage.
July 24--At the request of the carpenters, I took the initiative in building the arches...After the pieces were nailed in place, there was need of considerable work to smooth up the job... Then came the application of celotex over the woodwork of the arches. And finally there came the more difficult part...to attach the metal corner in readiness for the plastering.
July 26--Peter Heeter and his two sons were the plasterers who arrived in the afternoon and began the application of the first coat of plastering to the wall and ceilings.
August 5--The plastering was completed today. The finish will be left white until later. It was a decidedly good job of plastering we received from Peter Heeter and Sons. The carpenter is busy putting in windows. On Aug. 7 more windows were placed and also some door frames. Some doors were hung.
Aug 12--Some of the workmen began digging the 200-foot distance from the house to the big new sewer to the northeast, which is perhaps the best sewer in town and empties into the Eel River.
Aug 13--Some of the finish flooring was laid. Concrete coping was placed on the garage roof.
Aug 15--The roughing in for the bathroom fixtures had been done ... by the Manchester Plumbing Co.
Aug 16--The outside exposed woodwork . . . was given a prime coat of white paint by painters working under Ray E. Brookins.
Aug 17--The built-up asphalt flat roofing over garage was placed on hot under the supervision of the sheetmetal and roofing man -J.B. Lockwood. Since the windows were in and the doors were hung, I safeguarded the tools and other things within, also protected the finish on the floors, by locking up the house over tomorrow against a likely lot of miscellaneous visitors to see the 'new residence'.
Aug. 19--The floors will have shellac and be varnished in the natural. The bathroom trim to be painted in ivory, with the lower part of wall done in a gray-rose shade. ... The painters spent the ... day staining the gum and pine trim to be nailed in place afterwards by the carpenters. Sanding of the hardwood floors was done on Aug. 21 and built in things -ironing board, telephone niche and medicine cabinet were placed in the walls. The hanging china cabinet and the corner cabinet were assembled and properly placed in the dining room on the 22nd. Mr. Rarick did much of the work on the pergola porch himself.
Aug. 23--The overhead door placed in front of garage. . . .Garage door is glazed with panels at the top. It is the best garage door on the market. The main entrance door to the house has a glazed half circle portion at the top of the door. So the whole of the house front is in good harmony.
Aug 24--Electricity was turned into the house this week....It enabled me to have genuine electric lights in the house of evenings.
Aug 26--I puchased an ivory and pink pattern linoleum and fitted it myself onto the floor of the bathroom.
Aug 27--In the evening I set about sanding the upstairs floor by hand. By the aid of electric light I sandpapered on the floors through all the night so as to get them ready the soonest possible for the final finishing by the stain and varnish men under Brookins. Having worked down on my knees throughout the night,...the morning found me with eyes eager for sleep and with hand and knee surfaces sore. But after breakfast... I continued on until all was done and ready for the shellac and varnish men.
August 29--I have arranged for a Mr. Ed. Mawner of North Manchester to move us on Saturday.
Aug. 31--The Mawner men had one big truck. I got Roy's Chevrolet truck....Fortunately everything went on....When we arrived the sun was setting. With the appreciated aid of some volunteer help we set ourselves to the task of unloading which was not completed until after dark, about 8:30 p.m.
We were very weary, but glad indeed to be really moved now into our new "Home Sweet Home" at North Manchester.
In 1878 the national Annual Conference (of the Church of the Brethren) was held at North Manchester for the first time, being held at the West Manchester church. It was one of the biggest meetings of the day, and ranked well along with the crowds that (later) gathered at Winona for a meeting of this character when held under the most favorable conditions for people to attend.
On Saturday before the meeting opened on Sunday, 56 railway coaches arrived at North Manchester, filled with delegates. It is estimated that between fifteen and twenty thousand people attended this meeting on Sunday, and there were over 1500 teams. For this meeting a tabernacle 80 feet wide and 272 feet long had been built south of the church where part of the Pleasant Hill cemetery is now located. This was used for preaching services and dining hall.
The sermon in the church was by S.H. Bashor, while Moses Miller preached in the tabernacle. Other ministers preached in various churches in North Manchester that day and evening. It was that evening that possibly the first sermon ever given by a woman in North Manchester was preached in the Lutheran church. Sarah Major, who was attending the conference, gave the sermon, and so great was the curiosity of the people to see and hear a woman speak in public that the North Manchester Journal of that date says, "The anxiety to hear her was so great that only a small number of the vast crowd that went could get into the church."
(From Tales of the Old Days by W. E. Billings - 1926)
Annual Conference was in Manchester next in 1900, then in 1929 and the News-Journal compared those two meetings.
The Church of the Brethren Conference in North Manchester called attention to certain changed conditions as has nothing in recent years. Tuesday morning, a time when there was a general exodus of Conference folks, there were eight or ten people waiting at the Conference station for the early Pennsylvania train. Only one special train came in with Conference people, and that contained only about l50 people. Contrast that with the Conference of 1900 when the Wabash road, which then controlled what is now the Butler division of the Pennsylvania sent 55 coaches filled with Conference people, the Big Four ran a number of special trains, and every regular passenger train was filled with Conference people.
This year people came by automobile. California, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, Michigan and license plates of other states were common on the automobiles. Some of the people came with camping equipment. There were nearly 200 tents scattered in the College woods and on the lawns about the College.
Many of the people had friends and relatives in nearby communities and stopped with them instead of registering and being assigned by the lodging committee. The lodging committee had arranged for beds on a basis of experience of other years at other places. But no one took into consideration that at Winona and other places, the Conference was being held among strange people, whereas in and about North Manchester there are a dozen or more congregations of the Church of the Brethren, members of which had friends and relatives from all parts of the country who arranged to stay with them. Whereas at other places people were requiring accommodations in the Conference towns, here they were scattered into the country, and North Manchester could have easily provided lodging for a thousand more people.
... The Camp Mack people, remembering the experience at Winona four years ago when they had great difficulty in feeding the people, this time prepared much larger eating quarters. They, too, overplanned, for Sunday was the only time they were really rushed. Many visitors Sunday brought their own lunch. The parking field east of the College and the lawns and streets west of the College was one big picnic ground Sunday. Some no doubt expected difficulty finding a place to eat at Conference lunch stands and brought their food with them. The crowd was here but conditions were changed.
...All who desired could hear the speakers and music by means of the amplifiers scattered in the tents, halls and about the ground. There were no accidents or serious illness to mar the spirit of the Conference. People were orderly and well behaved and showed a reverence that was praiseworthy.
The crowd at the 1929 Conference was variously estimated at from 17,000 to 27,000.
President Winger spoke at the Conference and summarized the Conference as follows:
Having attended the last twenty Conferences of the Church of the Brethren, I have made some observations upon the present Conference in contrast with others. While the Conference has been held in good places in the past, there were many who did not hesitate to say that Manchester entertained the Conference the best they have ever seen. I am merely stating some of the things that were said over and over by the visitors.
In the first place people liked our town. They liked our homes and they liked our wide, shady streets. They liked the cordial welcome which was given to them by all. They very much appreciated what the business men and others have done to make possible the Conference at North Manchester. The lodging committee had a most difficult job, but did it well.
Many spoke of the way the meeting was handled and how everything went off without any conflicts. Among other things, they mentioned the excellent way in which the traffic was handled. Some one by count and estimation declared that there were 6000 automobiles here on Sunday. To handle this large number of cars in traffic, so that no accidents occurred, is no small matter and deserves commendation.
In general the people were surprised that Manchester had the room and accommodations for the meeting. They were surprised at the large campus and buildings of the College. Never before did the Conference have so many buildings for auxiliary meetings. The chapel, the gymnasium-auditorium, halls and classrooms provided ample rooms for all kinds of meetings. While these places were close together, yet after all they helped to scatter the crowds and avoid any jam.
The remark was made again and again that there never had been such large and adequate provisions for feeding the people. The visitors were well pleased with the eating accommodations which they received at the Camp Mack dining hall and other places. They spoke about both the excellence and the cheapness of the eats. While some people did not like the water, no one feared the healthfulness and purity of it. Even the sewerage and toilet system came in for commendation.
Speaking of disadvantages, perhaps the only one that could be mentioned would be the fact that a better auditorium was needed, but that was partly overcome by the system of loud speakers. People were even more interested when they learned that these had been built by the physics department of Manchester College and that they were to be the property of the College.
...One thing that was new was the chimes. This is the first time in the history of the Annual Conference that people had the advantage of hearing chimes during the meeting. Hundreds of people heard chimes for the first time, and everyone enjoyed the music. Hundreds of people climbed to the chime tower to see the bells and view our city.
...North Manchester has shown that they can take care of a large conference. All who have had any part whatsoever in helping to make this meeting a success are to be congratulated on what they have done.
Fifty years ago Monday night Wabash was the first and only town in the world lighted by electricity. As things go today, we would not call it very well lighted, for the lighting system consisted of four lamps hung from the top of the court house dome-lights that were supposed to shed their beams of brightness over the whole town. . . . One enthusiastic reporter, sent from Indianapolis to witness the first display of the lamps, wrote in his paper that, standing on the rear platform of his train, he could see the time of night by his watch, though the night was dark. . . .
Electricity then was a mystery. Few people knew anything about it. . . .The system was simple as we would look at it today. It was the old Brush system. . . . Electricity was supplied by a dynamo, turned by a steam engine, the lamps were of the arc type, the light being made as the current leaped from the end of one piece of carbon to another.
For a long time Wabash had forgotten her hold on fame. The older people had ceased to talk about it, and the younger generation had not heard of it. One day, in a tour of curiosity, the News-Journal man climbed to the top of the court house dome, and in a room near the top saw a part of one of the old lamps. Questions followed, and the incident of the first electric lighted city in the world was told in a story of the old days. Since then the incident has become generally known. One of the old lamps has been resurrected, and has been put into condition, where it possibly could be used again.
A few years ago there was an effort made to have the county unite with the city - Wabash to erect a monument on the court house lawn in which this lamp could be displayed. The county was willing to let the city have the space for the monument, but did not feel disposed to share in the expense.
This entire article is included in the Rarick diary but only selected parts are shown here. ed.