History Record View

Title: History of Carbondale
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:

The scant history on early days in the village of Carbondale does not reveal the identity of the first homesteaders.

Records do indicate one of the first homes was built in 1867 by John Thompson, a blacksmith. It is believed the blacksmith shop was east of the old cemetery.

The area was called Clark's Corss Roads, possibly due to the influence of Dr. Wesley Clark. He is believed to have been the postmaster in 1846.

It is known that Clark and Andrew Brier, who built the brick in 1855, were both members of Grand Prairie Rangers in 1861. Object of this organization was to "bring criminals, especially horse thiefs, to justice."

Clark and his wife, Mary Thomas Clark, did leave one bit of history.

A warranty deed dated April 13, 1867, left a one-acre plot in trust for the inhabitants of Liberty Township to be used as a burial ground.

In part, the deed lists the boundary lines as "on the east by the Chicago and Williamsport Road, on the south by the Bloomington Road, on the west and north by lands owned by Wesley Clark..."

As part of the deed, a section 20 feet in width ont eh west end was reserved for a family burying site. The lot was also conveyed for the purpose of erecting chapel or hall, "free and open to all persons to preach or lecture in". It further stated that if two or more should want to use the building at the same time, "the speakers shall cast lots for choice of time."

The trustee was instructed to "take charge of the house and grounds and keep the keys, take up collections for repairs and see that the building is never appropriated specially for one religious denomination to the exclusion of others, nor for the keeping of a common school on the same."

Although the cemetery is still there, it is no longer used. The "free hall" is long gone.

The ad read "Old mansion needs restoring". A realtor driving U.S. Route 41 in northern Warren County on a regular basis watched the once magnificent home deteriorate. She decided to advertise.

Ed and Joan Costello, after seeing the ad in a Chicago newspaper, were intrigued with the idea of restoring the old historic brick house.

The first time they saw it, they looked and then drove back out of the drive. After staying overnight at a nearby motel, they decided to come back and look at it again.

Although the house was still structurally sound, support columns holding the curving front porch were leaning and crumbling. The tongue and groove wood ceiling in the kitchen had rotten through and the floor and plumbing were gone. Dirty wallpaper hung in strips except where plaster had fallen out. A hole had been cut in the dining room ceiling to allow heat upstairs. The once polished parquet floors and woodwork were scarred and covered with blackened cracked varnish.

There was no heat, no water, no electricity and no plumbing. The show place had been built in 185555 for Andrew and Celinda Brier. The bricks were probably burned on the site.

The original two-story part and wing are Greek Revival with the interior decorated in a Colonial Revival style. The wide curving porch with ionic capitals and lumber yard bill to Levi Butler dated 1901 was found inside one support.

Following the deaths of the Briers, the house passed on to their son, Albert, who lived in it with his wife, Margaret. They in turn sold it to Levi "Lee" Butler and his wife, Rose. Around 1912 Butler sold the house to his brother, G. Clint and Bessie Butler.

The Butlers were stock auctioneers, dealing primarily with horses and mules. The present garage is believed to have been built from wood in the original auction barn. The barn on the property was built over the framework of the original. The old wood peg construction can be seen on the inside.

The property was owned by at lest eight others until Costello purchase eight years ago.

With 16-inch thick exterior and interior walls, restoratin work has been difficult.

The Costellos credited Vic Kerkoff, a carpenter of Attica with invaluable help.

Although taking the plunge, they had heat and kitchen sub-flooring installed, followed by hot and cold water in the laundry. For a time they slept on cots and cooked on a hot plate.

With the aid of local craftsmen, they stripped the walls. In some places wallpaper was four layers thick with paint sandwiched in between. Then every wall and ceiling was re-plastered.

Door frames and baseboards were removed to allow electrical wiring instead of trying to channel out walls or run exterior pipes.

Although the upstairs bedrooms have side pine board floors, the hallway was parquet. After removing the grates that had been installed in the middle of the parquet floors downstairs, the couple opted to sacrifice the upstairs flooring to restore the downstairs.

The Costellos believe the original front, or entrance door, faced north where they have located traces of a driveway. The dining room which measures about 18 by 22 feet. At the south end of the room, twin doorways to the kitchen flank the original fireplace. Faced with a moss green tile, the black cast iron grate is still in place. The mantel appears to be oak.

The floor plan does not follow the usual pattern of an entrance with stairs leading from the hallway.

From the east door, (facing old U.S. Route 41) one enters the living room. The bowed glass window was installed to match the curving porch. A fireplace is located at the south end. The room to the right (north) is divided from the living room by a half wall of book cases, pillars, and "Celinda's desk".

The secretary desk at one end was fitted smoothly into the walnut room divider. From this room, the stairs lead up. At the base of the stairs, a built-in deacon's bench offers seating.

An unusual feature of the stairs are the twisted balusters, the small posts supporting the railing. Called "knuckle busters", by Costello, he said they removed a least five layers of paint and varnish before getting to the original wood.

The kitchen has been completely remodeled into a warm modern facility.

Upstairs, the couple moved one wall to accommodate a modern bathroom. Some woodwork had been painter with "milk paint", a popular style in the 1900's. Efforts to remove it proved unfruitful so it was painted over.

Diamond panes in most windows are believed to be originals.

Although they admit they still have a lot to do, the couple are now engaged in remodeling the former summer kitchen to the south into a playroom for their grandchildren.

So far they have removed much of the old walls, changed a window, lowered the ceiling and added skylights to the back. Construction of a sleeping loft is underway.

Mrs. Costell said they want to maintain the charm of the house, yet make it liveable.

Other additions include a patio across the back and a gazebo where the family enjoyed sitting.

"It was a jungle when we moved here," Mrs. Costello said, "There were snakes and other wildlife that we didn't really want. Since we took out some of the old outbuildings, we're getting the yard into shape. We hope to return the outside to it's former grandeur, too."

Costello said at first they were afraid they had bitten off more than they could chew. "But now we're very pleased with the house..and the community. We've met a lot of nice people here. And this is our home."

The house has been listed for some time on the Indiana Register of Historical Landmarks. It has recently been accepted for listing on the National Register of Historical Places.

Date: 9/1/1990
Origin: Backward Glances
Author: Mary McConnell
Record ID: 00000112
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.