of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
VOLUME XV, NUMBER 3 (AUGUST, 1998)
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.
Rarick Diary Gives Insight Into Manchester Life in the
20's and 30's
by Ferne Baldwin
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
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
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.
Building a House in North Manchester in 1929
Based on the diaries of Ralph G. and Vinna C. Rarick.
The house is sometimes known as the Sunken Garden
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
P.S. I have been filling some ashes in the lot right in
front of where you would build. That will save you some
(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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
June 28--This day and next the carpenters were busy
placing the second floor joists and laying the sub
July 2--The dormers in second story... were started
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.