Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

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

Allen County Courthouse IndianaLet’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 …

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

Here’s a shot from the rotunda — just gorgeous. It is more beautiful than some state capitols I’ve visited.

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

I was excited to take some photos, since cameras are not usually allowed inside. An exception was made for this event.

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

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.

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

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.

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

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.

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

There’s the final courtroom I saw. So much detail —

Allen County Courthouse Indiana

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

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.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception/

The details inside are beautiful, and having gone to a Christmas program here years ago, that was fantastic too.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

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.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

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.

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

I visited here fairly often due to daughter #3’s interest in bonsai, so today I just made a quick walk-through.

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

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.

Embassy Theatre

Embassy Theatre

One final stop, just next door: the Embassy Theatre. I’ve brought you here before, once for a Gene Stratton Porter film, and another time at Christmas for the gorgeous Festival of Trees.

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.

Ft Wayne Embassy Theater organ

Another fun extra — we were allowed downstairs under the stage, to view the dressing rooms.

Ft Wayne Embassy Theater dressing room

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

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana

  1. I love the idea of being a tourist in your own hometown. It is so much fun to find new things for families to check out!

  2. Yes, Fort Wayne has many beautiful facilities! One of my favorites is The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, which I used to tour with gifted school children, and I always found it quite fascinating. This building and its contents are so valuable that they could never be replaced today. The stations of the cross portray the main tenets of the New Testament quite well. I’m wondering if you got to see the basement where the crypts are located and also rooms full of beautiful robes and many valuable chalices and such used in Catholic rituals? The Museum next door to the church is well worth visiting, so do that, too, when you get the chance.

    While I have also been to all of the attractions offered in this Home Town Visit Event myself, I appreciated your narration of the Allen County Courthouse especially. When I had to be there for an hour or so on the last day of my divorce to be finalized, I was so distraught that I didn’t have time to enjoy the history and beauty of the place. Thank you for the great pictures and interesting information about it! It is hard to imagine $800,000 to be spent on this building, whereas today one court room alone would cost that much! Also, it is absolutely phenomenal that the Embassy Theater was build in 1928 or just a year before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, because the money might never have been raised otherwise. My husband knows a few of the main contributors who kept this magnificent building from being destroyed in our lifetime. One of the men who saved it gave $40,000 of his own money to have it restored and refurbished. That man used to play the piano there before his death and funeral at the beautiful Cathedral aforementioned, which we were privileged to attend a few years ago.

  3. I enjoyed the tour of Fort Wayne.

    In Grand Rapids, you would find many wonderful things to visit. If you could come in the fall, you could visit ArtPrize. Google it and plan to come some year. It’s amazing!

    BTW, in the picture from the botanical gardens, I loved the elephant ears plant. I had them planted all around my house in Africa. That brought back so many memories. Thanks!

  4. I loved the tour of Fort Wayne. During the years I lived in Indiana, I can’t remember ever visiting Fort Wayne and I see I missed a lot. The court house and cathedral are amazing. So beautiful. How lucky you are to live in such an amazing city.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing from you.