It seems like people are often planning vacations. Where to go next? What to see? Sometimes, we’re so busy thinking about these things that we neglect the treasures right under our noses.
One thing I love about my home town is that each fall it offers Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown day. On this Sunday, various attractions in town are free.
Our family has participated in this event for years. I think we’ve pretty much visited all the places we’re interested in. Now, the kids are growing up. My husband wasn’t too interested in heading out again. But it was so beautiful out on Sunday that I decided to go see some sights myself.
Allen County Courthouse
Let’s begin with the Allen County Courthouse. It’s lovely, although fairly run-of-the-mill as courthouses go. But just wait til we step inside …
Here’s a shot from the rotunda — just gorgeous. It is more beautiful than some state capitols I’ve visited.
I was excited to take some photos, since cameras are not usually allowed inside. An exception was made for this event.
Four courtrooms were open, and each had a knowledgeable speaker available to tell interesting things or answer questions. I’m always impressed by the knowledge and passion of people in the community.
Here’s another courtroom. Some things I learned — the courthouse was begun in 1897, an era when many courthouses were being constructed. At the time, Fort Wayne was considered a ‘big deal’ and with its location at the junction of 3 rivers, and near a canal, many thought it would become like a Chicago or Detroit (well, like Detroit in better days, I guess). While the average courthouse of the time cost $80,000 to build, ours cost $800,000.
Each of the four courtrooms had different design. The courthouse is a National Historic Landmark, due to its Beaux Arts architecture and art. One speaker said that this contrasted with other courthouses, some of which were National Historic Landmarks perhaps due to a famous case that occurred there.
There’s the final courtroom I saw. So much detail —
If you notice the pictures and carvings around the tops of the rooms — they all have significance. Some tell about Indiana’s history, others represent Greek myths or historic ideals. All are interesting.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
A walk of just a few blocks brings us to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It is the city’s flagstaff Catholic church, and if you’re lonely for a European cathedral, this is about as close as you can get here.
The details inside are beautiful, and having gone to a Christmas program here years ago, that was fantastic too.
There were no tours being given today, but from a previous tour, I remember hearing about the beautiful, detailed Stations of the Cross that are on the side walls of the Cathedral. They were made in Germany in the late 1800s. I remember hearing about the way the artist depicted the Bible story, but the buildings in the background as well as the characters’ clothing have a medieval European look. I don’t recall the significance of this, but I thought it was interesting. See the castle in the background there? And the guards, who look a little Pied Piperish-ish.
The Stations of the Cross alternated with exquisite stained glass windows.
Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
Just across the street, I walked to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, or the Botanical Gardens, as we usually call it.
I visited here fairly often due to daughter #3’s interest in bonsai, so today I just made a quick walk-through.
The current special exhibit featured an Egyptian theme. Next month, the bonsai club will have all kinds of amazing bonsai, in one of the front rooms. Come visit if you’re nearby. You’ll be inspired.
The theatre was built in 1928, and whenever I attend an event here, just looking around at the building is often half the fun. Today, I enjoyed listening to a guy play the Grande Page Organ.
Another fun extra — we were allowed downstairs under the stage, to view the dressing rooms.
There were several, all pretty much like this. Honestly, I was surprised by how shabby they were. The part of the theatre that the public gets to see was much nicer.
So there you have it — a visit to some great places in my home town. If I visit yours, what should I be sure to see?
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” ~Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz