One corner of Bloomington is about to take a step back in time when a mid-19th-century barn moves in behind the Wylie House Annex at 317 E. Second St. and the Annex itself -- a 1930s arts and crafts house -- disappears from the site.
The barn will be taken apart on its site on Mt. Carmel Road and reassembled with additions, among them a new basement. On the outside and part of the inside, it will still look like the old three-story barn built in the 1860s. Wylie House Director Jo Burgess expects the work to be completed within a year.
The Annex, rated in the city's historical survey as a property contributing to the historic character of the East Second Street Historic District, will then be demolished and the site landscaped to evoke the time when the Wylie House was part of a 20-acre farm.
Burgess said the barn/education center will enable the Wylie House Museum to expand programming -- workshops, lectures, classes, group meetings -- and host weddings and receptions. It will be called the Morton C. Bradley Education Center, named for the Wylie family descendant who left the bequest funding construction.
While this ambitious plan has been publicly launched, the university has a more modest change in mind for the little white house across Lincoln Street from the Wylie House -- a paint job. The painters showed up to start work a couple of weeks after The Bloomington Alternative e-mailed the IU Real Estate office about the dilapidated state of the house -- a 1900 cottage, the oldest on its block, at 215 E. Second St.
Herman B Wells bought the house in the 1970s to help protect the corner from further development after an apartment building went up directly across from the Wylie House. When he died in 2000, Wells left the little white house to the university with the instruction that it be used as offices for the Wylie House or, as an alternative, torn down and the lot landscaped to create a pleasant view to the west from the Wylie House.
A longtime IU employee has lived in the little house, and the university expects her to remain a resident there for the near future, according to Larry MacIntyre, assistant vice president of University Communications. He said the university had not made a decision about the eventual use of that house, one of a row of early 20th-century houses between Lincoln and Washington.
When Burgess was asked what future the resident could foresee for the little white house -- given the addition of the barn/education center -- she said if Wylie House activities expand and the economy improves, the staff might grow enough to need the house at 215 E. Second for offices. Or she could envision using the lot as a landscaped park, or having a museum caretaker live in the house. The house might also continue as a rental dwelling, maintaining the residential character of that block.
Carol Polsgrove can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information
A history of the barn that will be the education center
Pictures of the barn