Source: The Corydon Democrat

Group looks to save tavern
Building tells 'Harrison' history

by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

February 18, 2014

One of nine remaining buildings in Corydon that was here during the capital period (1816 to 1825) is on the market and has a potential buyer.

The Historical Society of Harrison County put up $10,000 earnest money to purchase what has commonly been called the Branham Tavern, located at 419 N. Capitol Ave. The two-story log cabin that has a basement was most recently home to Ozzie’s LLC. Owner Linda Jackson closed the business late last year after 15 years of operating the shop that attracted both tourists and locals.

“At first, I thought this was not a good time,” said Missi Bush-Sawtelle, vice president of the Historical Society.

The Historical Society is just finishing up the renovation of the Posey House, another of the nine buildings.

However, with Indiana’s bicentennial approaching (the state will celebrate 200 years in 2016), the Society decided now was the time to pursue the project.

“This is a story that’s not being told,” Karen Schwartz, Society president, said. “We’re big-picture thinkers.”

The Branham Tavern, according to Schwartz and Bush-Sawtelle, will help explain how the county, as well as the township where the county seat is located, became named Harrison.

It is named for William Henry Harrison, the nation’s ninth president, who died about a month after taking office. Harrison had directed the building be constructed in the early 1800s as he was completing his duties as governor of the Indiana Territory. Schwartz said Harrison later sold the building to William Branham, who used it for a tavern.

In the 1980s, the Taglarino/Shuck family had the cabin professionally restored.

Jackson initially was asking $220,000 for the building but agreed to reduce the price by $10,000.

Last week, Jackson met with the two women at the cabin. She was preparing a list of service providers she’s used for the building during the last 1-1/2 decades.

Jackson said tourists already pass the location as they make their way to and from the Constitution Elm. Some would stop in for the history of the cabin. Only once during her ownership has anyone stopped in thinking it was still a tavern.

The Historical Society envisions using the cabin as a bicentennial headquarters and interpretive center that presents the Harrison story, including how the one-time president named the town of Corydon after a shepherd boy in “The Pastoral Elegy,” Harrison’s favorite song.

It could also be used for special functions, Bush-Sawtelle added.

In order to raise funds to purchase the building, the Historical Society has applied for a grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation. However, the grant won’t cover the entire purchase price, so they are seeking donations. (One anonymous person has already pledged $8,000 toward the purchase.)

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll get something” from the Foundation, Bush-Sawtelle said.

Checks may be sent to the Society treasurer, Sean Engleman, at 740 Steam Engine Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112. Checks should be payable to the Historic Society of Harrison County and have “Harrison Heritage Project” written on the memo line.

“We feel like we’re good stewards,” Schwartz said of the Historical Society.