of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
SINGING TOWER LISTED ON THE
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
SINGING TOWER LISTED ON THE
Application to the U.S. Department of the Interior was made this year to have the Peabody Memorial Tower listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Catherine Compton (field rep for Indiana's Historic Landmarks Foundation, Wabash office) and Allan White did the extensive research and detailed analysis necessary for the required registration forms. One can view the complete application with photographs at:
This issue of the NMHS Newsletter includes summary paragraphs and narrative descriptions contained in that application.
Physical Appearance of the Property-Summary Paragraph
The Peabody Memorial Tower is an octagonal, brick and limestone carillon set on a cube-shaped limestone base that serves as a mausoleum. The total height of the tower reaches 110 feet. The tower is set in a simple, balanced, circular landscape that rises toward the structure. Symmetrically placed plantings emphasize the rise in topography and form a visual transition from the horizontal setting to the base of the tower. Stylistically, the tower combines a vaguely streamline twentieth century classicism that almost gives its base an Art Deco character with Tudor late medieval features that meld with the classicism successfully to produce a cohesive design. Sculptural details such as the bronze entrance door, relief surrounds and panels, and the sinuous grillwork in the arched openings enhance the tower’s Art Deco spirit. The interior of the base that serves as a mausoleum is completely sheathed in white marble with gray veining.
Description of the Peabody Memorial Tower
The tower is centrally located near the entrance to the Peabody Retirement Community campus on the west side of North Maple Street in North Manchester. The two large residential halls and the chapel of the retirement center form a balanced backdrop for the tower as one approaches from Maple Street. The asphalt-paved driveway that surrounds the tower and gives access to retirement center parking is amidst grounds that are spotted with mature trees. Contemporary street lights are widely spaced along the drive. The island on which the tower sits is landscaped with a concrete-paved wide sidewalk, a sidewalk lawn that slopes to the driveway pavement and is intermittently planted with low, ornamental trees, and extended flights of concrete steps that approach the tower from east and west. Ground cover and low shrubs surround the base of the tower while taller, shaped shrubs provide accents flanking the flights of steps.
In plan, the base of the tower is a square whose corners are cut into a stepped arrangement. This treatment gives each elevation of the base the appearance of being composed of three superimposed wall planes all resting on the dark concrete pad that provides the foundation for the tower. The bottom of each plane is a tall cavetto base. A deep recess visually separates the cavetto from a cushion molding that runs continuously around the entire tower base. Above this cushion molding, smooth limestone blocks rise to the summit of the tower’s base.
The west elevation of the tower is the primary one and is distinguished by an entrance into the structure. The primary plane of this elevation is stepped at its summit and frames a narrow panel with a dentil-like design. The entrance, which projects slightly from the primary plane and rises almost to the full height of the base, is defined by two antae with incised reliefs carved almost to their full height. The reliefs are divided in half by thin vertical moldings that make each half of the relief the mirror image of the other half. The tops of the reliefs are stylized flower with leaf designs that trail down each side of the relief design as straight vines. This treatment almost gives each anta the appearance of being fluted while the flower design recalls the volutes of an Ionic capital. The uncarved, stepped top of each anta thereby reads as an architrave. The bronze door to the tower is centrally located between the antae and beneath a wide panel with “PEABODY” incised in un-serifed letters. The antepagment flanking the door is a floral-leaf relief design similar to that on the antae.
The bronze door, designed by Julius C. Loester, is classical in spirit. The main plane of the door is recessed several inches behind a wide frame. Two-thirds of that plane is solid while the upper third is grillwork. A draped, classical female figure whose head is in profile and lower body is frontal is set against this ground. The figure’s left hand rests against the bronze frame while her right hand pulls back her head covering. Her exaggerated contraposto pose causes the drapery covering her left leg to fall in straight folds and the shape of her right leg to be revealed. Her head covering also falls in a spiral of folds that help to frame the right leg. The figure’s classical facial features reveal no emotion. An inscription in small lettering in the lower right corner of the door reads: “IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER AND FATHER” above the artist’s name.
The secondary plane of the west elevation echoes the primary plane by having the cavetto base and cushion molding but the top of the plane is not stepped. Instead, the top course of limestone is separated from those beneath by a deep recess. Acroteria embellish the corners of this plane and frame the bottom of the tower shaft. The tertiary plane also repeats the cavetto base and the cushion molding, but its summit is stepped as described above.
The north and south elevations of the base repeat the composition of the west elevation but replace the entrance feature with simple rectangular openings on their primary planes that are filled with grillwork. These grills repeat the grill in the upper third of the bronze entrance door.
The east elevation is approached by a series of nine steps with two landings. In general composition, this elevation repeats the arrangement of its counterpart on the west. However, on this elevation the tall cavetto base is broken and a simple louvered bronze door in a molded limestone jamb takes the place of the elaborate entrance feature on the west.
The octagonal tower rises from the base. Limestone panels at the base of each face of the tower assist the transition to the brick shaft. The tower appears to taper slightly. That impression is, in part, the result of the fact that the limestone buttresses at the junction of each face become thinner in stages as the tower rises. Also, the limestone summit of the tower is inset from the shaft. Each face of the shaft is sheathed to roughly two thirds its height in red brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern. Thin quoins projecting from each buttress provide a regular vertical pattern against the brick. The top portion of each face of the tower is comprised of a Tudor arched opening with relief panel beneath and the termination of the buttresses flanking each face. The carving in the panels beneath each Tudor arched opening is “deep relief” in contrast to that on the entrance feature. The subject matter in these panels is birds and foliage. There are four different motifs distributed so that the same design is on opposite faces of the tower. A panel above each Tudor arch contains sunbursts whose rays shine on the arches. The Tudor arched openings are enriched by elaborate bronze screens that depict sinuous sweeping vines emerging from a thicket of fronds. Smaller vines form a counterbalance and all are hung with a Spanish moss-like covering on which small birds perch. The tower is topped off by the inset octagonal limestone cap each face of which is carved in relief. The relief style and general subject matter is the same as that found beneath the arched openings.
The east and west faces of the octagonal shaft have additional ornamental enrichment. The west face of the shaft has a rectangular opening immediately above the base that is surrounded by a limestone frame and topped by a cornice supporting acroteria. A bronze door is recessed deeply within the opening which is wrapped by a low wrought iron railing. At the top of the brick veneered portion of the tower face a narrow window opening framed by limestone is suspended under a curved balconet. A quoined rectangular panel containing a stylized relief of birds is centered above the balconet. The same window-balconet-relief panel motif is found in the corresponding location on the east face of the tower. However, on this face, the opening just above the base is a narrow, unadorned window with a soldier course lintel. Similar unadorned narrow window openings but with limestone sills are located on the southwest face and northwest face at different height locations.
The interior of the base is split into two discrete spaces. The space accessed through the west entrance is the mausoleum with five Peabody family graves. The entire space including floor, walls, and ceiling vault is sheathed in white marble with soft gray veining. The rectangular openings in the north and south elevations of the base admit light into the mausoleum. The ceiling of the space is composed of four triangular planes that form a pyramid. Two columbaria containing the names and dates of the deceased are located against the north wall and two are against the south wall. A fifth burial, also with name and dates, is set against the east wall of the space in the form of a low altar-like table. The second space in the base is entered through the door on the east elevation. This space has a concrete floor, tile brick walls, and a metal staircase that winds to the top of the structure.
Statement of Significance Summary Paragraph
The Peabody Memorial Tower is eligible for the National Register for its social history significance and for its architectural significance. The tower is both a clear symbol of the Peabody family’s philanthropic commitment to the community of North Manchester and an outstanding architectural monument. The Peabody Memorial Tower is on the campus of the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home, an early example of a retirement community built by James B. Peabody to honor his late wife. Designed by regionally significant architect, Charles R. Weatherhogg, the tower combines Tudor Revival and Art Deco stylistic features into a successful composition.
Narrative Statement of Significance
Brothers Simon (1851-1933) and James B. Peabody (1859-1934) made an early reputation for the Peabody family beginning in the late 1800s when they began providing high quality lumber to northern Indiana. Later, in 1902, James partnered with J.S. Stigglemann and began the Peabody Seating Company, which manufactured school and auditorium furniture as well as wood folding chairs. Peabody bought Stigglemann’s shares in the company after about three years in business and at that time the company name changed to the Peabody School Furniture Company and was managed by James and his son, Thomas. After struggling for a few years, business picked up and the Peabody School Furniture Company became known nationally and internationally. Operations for the company continued through the 1980s.
The philanthropic ethic ran throughout the Peabody family. Simon Peabody, James’s brother, wintered in Daytona Beach, Florida where he golfed with the likes of John D. Rockefeller. Simon was a major benefactor there, as well as in Columbia City and North Manchester, Indiana. Philanthropic ideals continued to be followed by James and Thomas who used the Peabody School Furniture Company to help the lives of others. For example, donations of school furniture were sent to San Francisco following the earthquake of 1906. Later, in 1931-32 during the Great Depression, Thomas, who took over the management of the company when his father retired, continued running operations on a three-day work week even though there was not demand for the furniture. In order to keep the employees working the furniture was stockpiled in the hopes that one day it could be sold.
When James B. Peabody died in 1934, Thomas made a memorial bequest for his father to all employees of one year or more. Each received $100 for each year of service up through fifteen years. A similar bequest was made by the president of the company at the time of Thomas’s death.
Of course, the main example of the philanthropic efforts of James B. Peabody is the Estelle B. Peabody Memorial Home. When Mrs. Peabody (1865-1928) died, her husband sought ways to commemorate her life and set into motion a process of creating a retirement community, a relatively innovative concept at that time. He acquired the land in 1929 for the elderly care facility and then created the organization to maintain it and its residents in time beyond the Peabody family’s significant philanthropy and interests. The Peabody Retirement Community, as it is now called, is a growing, certified human resources institution, nationally recognized in geriatric research and a major investment in the community of North Manchester.
Although the complex we know today is larger in geographical area, the Peabody family bought what had been the old Tri-County or North Manchester fairgrounds and horse racing track which was comprised of six city blocks in northwest North Manchester extending more or less from Sixth to Ninth Streets and from Maple to Washington Streets. This is adjacent to the old Harter Grove, a natural reserve intact throughout the history of the town from 1837 until the present. There was an attempt to improve the grove as Oak Park Addition south of Seventh Street, while north of Seventh the land reverted to private ownership in its natural state. The land had first been owned by Jonas Warvel (1870-1936) a naturalist and civic leader, then by Thomas A. Peabody (1917-1991), Thomas and Mary Makemson (1885-1966) Peabody’s only heir. By a bequest of the late Thomas Peabody and then as gift of Mary K. Peabody, much of the grove is preserved by the Town of North Manchester as Warvel Park in memory of Peabody’s friend Jonas Warvel.
The Peabody family became stewards of the land and aesthetic ideals which coalesced into a natural setting including the approach to the retirement community and the tree-lined allee along West Seventh Street. While the use of the land has changed with the growth of the retirement community and the evolution of its marketing strategies, the essential intent of the family and the architect has not been lost. The Peabody Memorial Tower epitomizes the Peabody family’s century-long humane impact on the surrounding area and its role in encouraging an ongoing tradition of benevolence by many families, individuals, and corporations.
The philanthropic ethic of the Peabody family was not uncommon among affluent Americans of the time period. The gifting of money to churches, and to the poor through churches, has been around for centuries. However, it was during the early 20th century that people began to use their wealth outside of church to help their communities, to further research, and to solve social problems. Well known philanthropists of the time such as Andrew Carnegie helped fund the construction of over 2500 libraries in his quest to help provide free education in growing communities. John D. Rockefeller, who wanted to “promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world”, personally contributed to the construction of the Whiting Community Center for the Indiana community that was headquarters for Standard Oil of Indiana. The Peabody Memorial Tower represents the same ethical mindset benefitting the town of North Manchester.
Philanthropically and architecturally, the Peabody Memorial Tower can be compared to the Bok Singing Tower, 1927-29, in Lake Wales, Florida. The Peabody tower was inspired by the Singing Tower, a 205-foot carillon which was built for Edward W. Bok (1863-1930) as a gift of gratitude to the American people. Edward Bok came to America from the Netherlands as a boy and was a successful entrepreneur and the editor of Ladies Home Journal. The Singing Tower, designed by Philadelphia architect, Milton B. Medary (1874-1929), reflects the influence of both the Gothic styles and Art Deco design that was popular in the late 1920s and 1930s. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. (1870-1959) and the entire complex has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Peabody Memorial Tower has been a landmark in Wabash County since its construction began in 1936 and remains so today. The editor of the local newspaper, North Manchester News-Journal, kept the reading public posted, almost on a weekly basis, of construction progress on the tower and the Peabody Home. When the scaffold was erected to the maximum height the tower was to attain, the newspaper observed on August 6, 1936, “for the first time people can get some conception of the distance into the sky that the tower will reach, and general effect it will have on the sky line, if a town the size of North Manchester can rightfully be supposed to have a sky line.” Consequently, there is a skyline. The tower has a commanding presence, visible for a couple of miles outside the town, especially at night when it is dramatically lighted. It is a familiar landmark because of its proximity to areas of town where groups of people congregate.
The architect who worked with the Peabody family to design the complex was Charles R. Weatherhogg (1872-1937) of Fort Wayne. He was an English born and trained designer who came to the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, liked what he saw, and stayed in this country. Some architectural historians tend to regard Weatherhogg as a Fort Wayne product, although from his firm’s inception until his death, he became recognized throughout northern Indiana and possibly beyond. Earlier in his career, Weatherhogg partnered with architect Alfred Grindle to design the Jasper County Courthouse in Rensselaer, Indiana. Weatherhogg’s buildings are also found on the campus of Howe Military School. He designed the Columbia Theater in Columbia City, Whitley County, which no longer stands.
In Fort Wayne, Weatherhogg was the architect for the Irene Byron Tuberculosis Sanitorium, North Side High School, Central High School (now the Anthis Career Center), Harrison Hill School, Fairfield Manor, and Temple Achduth Vesholom among other commissions.
Weatherhogg also did a number of commissions in North Manchester in addition to the Peabody retirement community. His work includes drawings for the former Central High School, now the site of the North Manchester Public Library which was constructed by the Mary K. Peabody Foundation in 1995. He also designed new facades for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (1923), and the former Oppenheim Department Store building (1923). Weatherhogg also was initially involved in the construction of the former Manchester College gymnasium (1926), although those drawings as published were altered to suit the needs of the college. His principal residential commission in North Manchester was the home of Thomas and Mary M. Peabody, a large, three-story Cotswold Tudor mansion of stone and brick at 300 West Seventh Street which was built in 1932-33.
Weatherhogg’s skill as an architect is evident in the three remaining original buildings of the Estelle B. Peabody Memorial Home – the so-called South House, the original portion of the Chapel, and the Memorial Tower. The North House, a memorial to James B. Peabody, originally balanced the South House in the symmetrical complex composition but has been replaced by contemporary construction. We tend to take for granted the technologies used in the Memorial Tower, new at the time this six-story building was constructed. As the other buildings of the complex, the 110-foot tower’s brickwork is laid in traditional Flemish bond. Modern building methods and materials, demonstrated by the use of structural steel and concrete as in the other original buildings of the Home, are confirmed by a study of the architect’s drawings of the tower dated March 2, 1936.
Another technology that figures in the design of the tower satisfied Thomas Peabody’s interest in the transmission of electronic communications following the advent of radio in the 1920s. The tower and the chapel were wired from top to bottom to power floodlights to light the exteriors at night and to service the public address system that was connected not only to the chapel for use on special occasions, but also to the commercial radio stations of northeastern Indiana. The tower still broadcasts prerecorded religious and seasonal music at scheduled times during the day as well as the recorded Westminster chime marking each quarter hour and tolling the daylight hours.
Stylistically, Weatherhogg melded influence from the Tudor Revival popular in the early 20th century with increasingly popular Art Deco design ideas. Many Tudor Revival inspired designs at the time contained features such as half-timbering with stucco infill, chimney pots, and narrow divided light windows in groups. Advancement in veneering techniques permitted the use of brick or stone veneers of the sort used on the Peabody Memorial Tower in projects reflecting a range of budgets. The Art Deco style, popular after 1925, drew its inspiration from a variety of sources including a simplified classicism, African tribal art, as well as Aztec, Mayan, and even Egyptian art. Weatherhogg’s skillful meld of these two design influences – the simplified classical, yet almost modern Deco influence in the base and the references to late Tudor medievalism in the shaft – make the tower a recognizable product of the eclectic tastes of the 1930s.
The beautiful bronze door on the west face of the memorial tower, which also reflects the simplified classical side of Art Deco, was designed by Julius C. Loester. Details of Loester’s life are meager which may indicate that, at the time he executed the Peabody commission, he was an employee of the Frank Schmool Metal Products Company of Mount Vernon, New York, which had the contract for the tower bronze work. The seminal idea for the door may have come from Thomas Peabody himself. In one of Peabody’s scrapbooks there is a black and white cartoon from an unpublished, undated source showing a figure who is facing to the viewer’s right with right hand raised to the shoulder. The eight bronze grills at the top of the tower were roughly sketched by Weatherhogg in his blueprints. Loester also designed the Wisconsin State Monument at Vicksburg Battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the Mothers Monument in Mount Vernon, New York.
The Peabody Memorial Tower is an architectural monument of subtlety and sophistication that has served as a local landmark since its completion in 1937 and a notable artifact of the architectural career of Charles R. Weatherhogg. It is also a symbol of the philanthropic largesse of the Peabody family whose gift of the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home to the people of North Manchester fits into the larger culture of philanthropy associated with America’s wealthy in the early 20th century.
Editor’s Note: North Manchester now has eight buildings, structures and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Landmark Name Date Listed
1 Peabody Memorial Tower June 24, 2010
2 Thomas R. Marshall School (former) Mar 22, 2004
3 N. Manchester Historic District June 27, 2002
4 N. Manchester Public Library (former) Mar 14, 1996
5 Manchester College Historic District Dec 27, 1990
6 Lantz House (Hotel Sheller) Nov 14, 1982
7 N. Manchester Covered Bridge Sept 30, 1982
8 Noftzger-Adams House Nov 14, 1979
Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for these properties and districts at our web site. [See Historic Places under N Manchester at www.nmanchesterhistory.org] These locations may then be viewed in a Google map.There are now 24 properties and districts in Wabash County listed on the National Register, 8 of which are located in North Manchester. For various newspaper accounts on the Peabody Singing Tower, go to Peabody Tower under Architecture at the NMHS web site.
Source: The News-Journal, October 18, 1937
C.R. WEATHERHOGG (1872-1937)
Charles R. Weatherhogg, well known Fort Wayne architect, died Friday forenoon at his lodge at Tri-Lakes. He had been ailing with heart trouble for some time, but death came suddenly. The funeral was held this afternoon at Fort Wayne.
Mr. Weatherhogg was well known in North Manchester, having designed and supervised construction of a number of buildings. The addition to the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home, now under construction, was planned by him and the work was being done under his supervision. This work will go on without interruption. Tom Peabody will personally do much of the supervising, aided in a technical way of the staff of the Weatherhogg office. Mr. Weatherhogg designed the original unit of the home, the Memorial Chapel, Memorial Tower, and the residence of Tom Peabody. His first work in North Manchester was the Central school building. Later he designed the John Snyder residence and the Manchester College gymnasium.
He was born in England in 1872. He came to Chicago to attend the World’s Fair in 1893 and like this country so well he stayed, locating in Fort Wayne. During the intervening years he had designed many buildings in Northern Indiana. He considered the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home his masterpiece. Mr. Weatherhogg never married. His relatives remained in England.
Source: The News-Journal, March 30, 1936
PLAN MEMORIAL TOWER AND CHAPEL
A chapel and memorial tower are to be built at the Estelle Peabody Memorial home this summer by T.A. Peabody as a memorial to his parents, James B. and Estelle Peabody. Contract will be let in the next two weeks, the bids being private. The plans call for a chapel building approximately 56x128 feet to the north of the Memorial home. It will be of colonial style with a spire 96 feet high. In it will be the chapel auditorium where services of various kinds will be held. A covered passageway above ground will connect the chapel with the Memorial home, so the residents of the Home need not go out of doors to go to the building.
The Memorial tower will be directly east of the chapel near the east side of the Home ground. This tower will be 110 feet high and of hexagonal shape. It will be built of Bedford stone, brick and bronze, while the chapel building will be of material similar to that used in the Home. A large pipe organ will be in the chapel, and some seats will be equipped with ear phones for aged people.
An underground cable will connect the chapel and tower, and in the top of the tower will be amplifying equipment that will broadcast sound in the community. Thus music, speaking or other services of general interest, by means of a microphone in the chapel, can be broadcast over a considerable area. Similarly radio broadcasts, or even music from phonograph records can be heard through the amplifiers. This system will not be in daily use. Mr. Peabody plans for it to be used on occasions such as Christmas, Easter and similar occasions, or when something of note and general community interest is being given, either in the chapel or by radio broadcast.
Mr. Peabody has been working on plans for the chapel and tower for a year or more. He got the idea of the tower from the Bok Singing Tower in Florida, which was described last Thursday by W.E. Billings in his column, “Rambling Stories.” The Bok tower has 71 bells, but was built before radio broadcasting and sound amplifiers were known. Starting with this idea, Mr. Peabody during the past year investigated various sound amplifying systems, and then turned his ideas to the architect, Charles R. Weatherhogg of Fort Wayne, to put into practical form. Mr. Weatherhogg completed the plans a few days ago, and contractors have now been asked to submit bids.
It is hard to conceive a more lasting or fitting memorial than Mr. Peabody has planned. Not only will it be of service and use to the aged people in the home, but it will be so arranged the entire community may receive pleasure and benefit from it. And when the improvement is completed, there will not be another like it in the United States.
Source: The News-Journal, June 18, 1936
SEVENTH WEEK OF WORK ON CHAPEL
The seventh week of work on the chapel and tower at the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home finds the chapel walls well toward half done, the foundation for the tower in place and ready for the stone, and the furnace and smoke stack in place. The work is under the direction of George Sprunger as construction foreman for the Indiana Engineering company of Fort Wayne.
Just now most of the work is brick laying, and that goes a bit slow, for the walls are being laid in what is known as Flemish bond, the same as the walls of the main buildings of the home. In Flemish bond the bricks are so laid that the end of each alternate brick is exposed. The work is slower, but the wall is prettier. As soon as the wall reaches the height for the roof more workmen can be added. Then will come the roof and the interior, and still bigger force of men can be employed. Some of the brick masons will go from the chapel building to the amplifier tower, but an experienced stone setter will have charge of the stone work. Some of the stone is already on the ground, and more coming. The spire of the chapel will be only a little lower than the tower. The tower will be 110 feet above the foundation, while the top of the spire will be 96 feet, or about sixty feet above the roof.
Mr. Sprunger says he likes to work in North Manchester, that the work is moving along well, and that the working conditions are pleasant. Before coming here he had put up a building for the International Harvester company, right where they were testing tractors, and other noisy machinery. The noise continued from morning to night, never getting any less, but always seeming to increase. It was a relief to get where one could hear what fellow workmen had to say.
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11 What’s New at the Center for History,
Feb 8 How Early Americans Dressed & Why, Esther Ruppel
Mar 8 Story of Lewis & Clark, Pete Jones
Apr 12 Appalachian Trail Adventure, Larry Ray
10 Railroads of N. Manchester, Bill Eberly
Jun 14 Silent Movie & Sing Along, Lee Maloney
Jul 12 Fascinating Story of Roann, Ellie Draper
Aug 9 100 Years of Boy Scouting
Sep 13 Underground RR in Indiana, Jeannie Regan-Dinius
Oct 11 Modern Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, Worth Weller
Nov 8 Early N.M. Businesses, John Knarr
Dec 13 The Timbercrest Choir, Mary Coe
Our monthly programs are held on the second Monday of each month, with an evening meal at 6pm. The program starts at 6:40 pm in the Timbercrest Assembly Room. The public is always invited. Admission is free. Voluntary donations are used to defray speaker and program expenses.
NMHS Newsletter Editor--John Knarr, assisted by Bea Knarr
NMHS WEB SITE--www.nmanchesterhistory.org