Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Casa Roma aka Eastbrique Tower

In July 2008, I posted Home Sweet Home as a contribution to "Smile for the Camera : Celebrate Home" that was hosted by footnoteMaven. In that post, I talked a little about the house I lived in while attending Indiana State University (1979-1982) in Terre Haute, Indiana and included the photo below.

"Eastbrique Tower on Fruitridge Avenue, Terre Haute, Indiana. I lived here 1979-1982. I don't know when the house was built but it was quite old. The owner was remodeling it and turning it into apartments. I lived in a little efficiency apartment located in the left corner, first floor. I was devastated when I returned to Terre Haute in 1985 to discover the house had been torn down and the lot turned into a paved parking area for a neighboring restaurant."
A few days ago I received a comment from Donna Bollman who provided more information about the house:
This is the only picture I have ever seen of the "Casa Roma". I loved this building. My parents had bought the building and my father had brought it back to life. We put countless hours into the restoration of the immense wood throughout the home. In one room the opening of the fireplace exceeded 5' and I could walk into the opening. That room also hosted 20' ceilings and touted solid walnut ceiling beams and the room lead out by way of grand french doors that were arched. Behind this manor house was a carriage house that we were converting to a Art Studio/Antique shop. My father feel ill to lung cancer before it was completed. On the day of my fathers funeral in August in 1994 my mother gave me a box that contained a single brick. It was one of two cornerstone bricks from the building. That is how I found out "The Castle" had been demolished. My mother had the building bulldozed the night before the funeral. She destroyed the building at night because she feared the city would stop her from tearing down the oldest remaining grand home on Fruitridge Ave. The land was then sold on the day of the funeral to the restaurant next door for extra parking.
And, my response:
Donna, thank you for sharing the story of 'The Castle.' I have fond memories of that place. Your father showed me every room before I moved in. Since I was a poor college student, I could only afford the efficiency apartment. I really would have loved to live in one of the larger apartments. The woodwork was amazing and your father (and whomever helped him) did a wonderful job in restoring it.
Was the house demolished in 1994 or 1984? In my post I said I visited Terre Haute in 1985 and the house was gone. I could easily have gotten the year mixed up. I'm sure that had it been publicly known, there would have been an outcry to prevent it being destroyed. I'm amazed that your mother was able to pull that off without it being public knowledge! It's sad that it was torn down. It was a grand old place.
Donna, I have another photo of the house, taken from the other side that actually shows the tower. If you are interested I could post it on the blog or email it to you.
Donaa added another comment late last night:
No my mistake 1984. I would love to have a copy of the picture. To this day I still refinish wood for a living. (I was a fine arts major) The name Casa Roma was what it was called in the 1940's when it was a restaurant. The building itself took years to complete. (1860's to 1870's) The couple that built the house went on an extended stay in Europe. Each room was built one at a time. The wife would sent back ideas from homes that she liked in Europe. Many people think it was added on to but that was the way it was built. They say the wife did not see the home till it was finished and loved it. Also each room was furnished in the style of that room.
I find it interesting that both Donna and I were fine arts majors. My emphasis was in photography but I also took quite a few courses in woodworking while at ISU and loved working with wood.

Most of my older photos (i.e., pre-digital) are in boxes in storage but there were a few that were digitized during the scanning frenzy a few years ago, including the three below.

An infrared photo taken from the southwest side. My apartment was in the lower right corner.

The living room was rather small - I think the ceilings were higher than the width of the apartment!

A fun photo, taken with a very wide angle lens, made the apartment look bigger. The three square windows across the top were stained glass and added some wonderful color to the room in the late afternoon.

My thanks to Donna for taking the time to leave her comments and for providing more information about the house.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Casa Roma aka Eastbrique Tower," Kinexxions, posted May 22, 2013 ( : accessed [access date])

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