Streets provide snippet about town
Karen Schwartz, Special to The Corydon Democrat
Did you know there are amazing stories waiting to be discovered along the streets of historic downtown Corydon?
Here are a few snippets of information about the names and significant sites along many of the streets of Corydon:
‘Trees are a popular theme with nine downtown streets named after trees, including Sycamore, Oak, Maple, Elm, Poplar, Mulberry, Chestnut, Walnut and Cherry streets.
‘Two of the main thoroughfares in downtown Corydon ‘ Capitol Avenue and Chestnut Street ‘ have both had their name changed. Today’s Capitol Avenue, which runs north to south, was known as Market Street until 1941 when the name was changed to Capitol Avenue for obvious reasons. It was also sometimes known as Main Street. Chestnut Street, which runs east to west and intersects with Capitol Avenue, was formerly known as Mill Street.
‘Farquar Avenue does not appear on an original map of Corydon. The Farquar family arrived in Corydon in 1819 and acquired ownership of much of northeast Corydon. Halfway between Capitol and Mill Street, starting at High Street and running north, the wealthy Farquars laid out a street on their own property.
‘Water Street runs parallel to Big Indian Creek before the creek tapers farther away near the Harrison County Fairgrounds.
‘Three mills have stood at the south end of Maple Street.
‘The Kintner family traded the Cedar Glade plantation, located just after crossing the creek from the north on North Capitol Avenue, to the McGrain family on Oct. 10, 1849, for a store building fronting on Main Street in Louisville. Cedar Glade once extended all the way south to Elliott Street, with all property south of it platted into Corydon lots. Many other mansions and large homes were located on both sides of Capitol Avenue south of Cedar Glade.
‘Cherry Street once extended all the way from the Posey House to Elm Street, with a hitch rack for horses stretching along the south side. Cherry Street ran east to west across the south side between the Harrison County Court House and the First State Capitol where the sidewalk is now located. This eastern half was closed to traffic in October 1928.
‘Historic High Street contains the Westfall House, the Constitution Elm, James Best’s boyhood home and St. Joseph Catholic Church and School.
‘William (Button) Mitchell built numerous fanciful houses in downtown Corydon, including homes along North Capitol, Farquar, Chestnut and others.
‘The women of Corydon gathered to do their wash in Big Indian Creek at the west end of Chestnut (Mill) Street. The eastern end of Chestnut, now S.R. 62, became Plank Road, which was the last privately owned tollroad in the state of Indiana with four stops along the route: Corydon, Lanesville, Edwardsville and New Albany.
‘In 1808, when the town of Corydon was laid out, provisions were made for two public squares, each containing one acre. The boundaries were Oak Street (west), Elm Street (east), Cherry Street (north) and Beaver Street (south). The east square had poor drainage, and Beaver Street derived its name from the critters that built their home in the pond that formed in the southeast corner. Beaver Street is also of interest because it is a one-way street that goes both ways. If you turn west off of Capitol Avenue, you travel to Oak Street, where Beaver Street terminates. If you turn east off of Capitol Avenue, you travel to Elm Street, where Beaver Street ends.
‘The imposing Strother Madison Stockslager House, which stood at the corner of Elm and Walnut streets, which is the site of today’s Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center, had 11 doors that opened outside on the street.
‘A slab bridge was built across Little Indian Creek on Mulberry Street in 1952. Prior to this, travelers were forced to ford the creek at this point since the only bridge was downstream at Capitol Avenue.
‘College Avenue is a one-block street in east Corydon, connecting East Chestnut Street with East Walnut Street. It was named for the two-story Ohio Valley Normal College, which was dedicated April 7, 1896, and operated for 12 years. The college was located along College Avenue’s west side and was razed in the 1930s.
‘The LNAC railroad tracks running down the middle of Poplar Street were removed in the summer of 1989. Surprisingly, the west end of Poplar Street ended in Big Indian Creek.
‘Oak Street was once familiarly known as ‘Cow Street’ because Corydon residents drove their cows along the route on the way to water at the creek.
‘There have been three ‘Kintner House’ hotels in Corydon. The first was on the south side of Chestnut Street at its intersection with Oak Street. The second, at the northwest corner of Beaver Street and Capitol Avenue, perished when the entire block from Cherry to Beaver streets burned to the ground in 1871 in one of Corydon’s great fires. The third was erected at the southwest corner of Capitol Avenue and Chestnut Street.
There are so many adventures waiting for the explorer. Frederick P. Griffin, the county’s late historian, writing in ‘The Streets of Corydon,’ attributed the following quote to Mrs. Mary Rowland Adams: ‘ … for real enjoyment, I advise you to delve into the history of a street or a square in Corydon.’
Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. In preparation of Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016, she is providing a monthly column ‘ focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County’s history ‘ that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. To suggest a topic, contact Schwartz at 812-736-2373 or 812-738-2828, by e-mail at [email protected] or by regular mail at 5850 Devil’s Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.