Save This Old House: Indianapolis, Indiana
Hidden behind a patch of trees on a rural byway outside Indianapolis, this empty clapboard farmhouse was once home to Isaac Cotton
Published May 2011
Price: $1 (Must be moved)
Contact: Chad Lethig, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534
The history: Hidden behind a patch of trees on a rural byway outside Indianapolis, this empty clapboard farmhouse was once home to Isaac Cotton. His father, John, built the place in the early 1850s. Isaac lived here with his wife and son, taught school during the winter, and farmed in the summer, raising pigs and fine-wool sheep. He was so good at tending to his honeybees that he was named president of the Indiana Bee-Keepers Association. During the Civil War, he served as the local draft enrollment commissioner.
In 1890, Isaac sold the house to his son, who sold it a few years later. The house passed through several owners until 1937, when it was purchased by the Ropkey family; they lived here until six years ago.
Why save it? The 13-room house retains its original ash, oak, and poplar millwork, as well as the louvered shutters that cover each original window. It is one of the few Indianapolis-area structures that predates the Civil War.
Shown: The cantilevered staircase needs a new railing but retains its ash stair treads.
What it needs: A local realty company wants to develop the property and is working with a preservation group to find someone to relocate the house. The place is in good shape, but its kitchen and two bathrooms could use updates, and it needs new plumbing, wiring, and heating systems. Covenants will be attached to the sale to ensure the house maintains its historic character—and never, ever has to be moved again.
The house's style is a blend of Greek Revival and Italianate. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Though changes to the house's exterior are prohibited by covenants, relocating the rear garage, added in the 1930s, is optional.
Shown: The now boarded-up front door has its original transom and sidelights.
The original windows have blown-glass panes.
An unidentified couple stands in front of the house in the early 1890s, before the addition of the rear garage.