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Isaac A wrote a review Nov 2019
Glen Ellyn, Illinois1 contribution1 helpful vote
My wife and I had a wonderful time at the Barker Mansion and the staff was incredible! TJ and Anthony were so knowledgable and were so gracious with us throughout the entire tour. They had definitely done their homework and research about this historic landmark! There is so much to see and so much to learn about the great stories within the Barker family history. This mansion tour will not disappoint!
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Date of experience: November 2019
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interceptpubs wrote a review Nov 2019
Columbus, Indiana1,004 contributions392 helpful votes
The Barker family played a major role in the development of industry in the Michigan City area in the 19th and early 20th centuries. John H. Barker, Sr., moved to Indiana in 1836 from Massachusetts searching for economic opportunities in the fast closing pioneer state of Indiana. Initially a general merchant, he branched into grain brokerage before opening a commission house to handle merchandise being shipped on the Great Lakes. In 1855, he bought an interest in a railroad car manufacturing business that was relocating to Michigan City. It was an opportune investment as the coming of the Civil War just a few years later resulted in a huge demand for railroad cars. When he retired in 1869, his son, John H. Barker, Jr., joined the firm and eventually became the company's president. By 1910, the family fortune was estimated to be $60 millions dollars (the equivalent of $1.6 billion today). As befitting the wealthiest family in town, the Barker's had the most impressive home in Michigan City. Originally built in 1857, the house underwent an extensive expansion in the early 20th century. When completed in 1909, it had 38 rooms, ten bathrooms, and seven fireplaces. Built in the style of an English manor house, its two-and-a-half stories are clad in dark red brick with limestone trim. Unfortunately, Barker's wife died of a sudden illness in May 1910, with Barker himself dying of pneumonia in December. This left their only child, 14-year-old Catherine, an orphan and also one of the wealthiest women in the world. She completed her education in New York where she made her home after graduation - the mansion in Michigan City stayed in the family, but was seldom visited by the young heiress. In 1915, she sold the family's interest in the railroad car factory (it eventually became part of the Pullman Company and continued to operate until the decline of the railroad industry led to its closure in 1970). She subsequently embarked on several philanthropic enterprises that aided the people of Michigan City and eventually gave the mansion to Purdue University, which used it as a temporary regional campus from 1948 to 1968. After Purdue University vacated the structure, the house is gifted to Michigan City. Before Catherine's death in 1970, she provided money for the mansion's restoration and arranged to have its original furnishings returned. The result is that today, the mansion looks very much like it did in its heyday, both inside and out. We visited it recently and took the guided tour (offered Tuesdays through Saturdays at 1 p.m. - self-guided tours are also available on Saturday afternoons). This lasts a little more than an hour and takes visitors through the public rooms on the first floor, the family quarters on the second floor, and even the servants quarters. Rooms look pretty much as they did in the day - with proof in most rooms provided by period insurance photos. We actually got here a little after 1, so joined the tour shortly after they finished a short video on the family - we watched the video after the tour ended, but it is definitely good to watch (and probably more helpful if seen first). Overall, we really enjoyed the tour and thought it was very well done.
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Date of experience: October 2019
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Stanley K wrote a review Oct 2019
Tinley Park, Illinois12 contributions3 helpful votes
This fabulous tour was amazing. Visiting an older, well keep mansion with over 90% of the original artifacts. The tour guide was very good and even requested any questions.
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Date of experience: October 2019
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j0ywp wrote a review Oct 2019
Rolling Prairie, United States20 contributions3 helpful votes
This is special because you learn so much Michigan City history. You tour many of the rooms and some of them are set up with period furniture. The garden is lovely as well.
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Date of experience: June 2019
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charlesc285 wrote a review Sep 2019
180 contributions38 helpful votes
We were interested in touring the Barker Mansion. The hours of operation are posted on the front door. The door was locked but signage indicated to ring the bell for admittance. We rang the bell and waited . . . then we rang the bell again. We could hear it ringing loud and clear. Two cars were parked out front. Possible employees? Needless to say, we did not tour the mansion. We did look over the grounds outside which were nice and well maintained. You may want to call to double check they are actually open if you wish to tour the Barker Mansion.
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Date of experience: September 2019
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Response from barkermansion, Manager at Barker Mansion
Responded Sep 27, 2019
Hi, thank you for stopping by. We are currently operating on our off-season hours, which are posted on the door as well as our website (barkermansion.com) and on our phone greeting (219-873-1520). When you visit during those hours, we will answer the bell for admittance on a tour. On a side note, our staff does not park out front. Thank you for the kind words about our grounds, and we hope you can visit again soon. Jessica Rosier Interim Director
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