GREENFIELD — The National Register of Historic Places recently recognized a local home with a landmark status.
The Rufus and Amanda Black House, located at 222 S. County Road 200W, has been added to the register’s list of structures that are historically and culturally significant.
The old Hancock County home is believed to have been built between 1870 and 1880, and its brick Italianate architecture makess it worthy of recognition, local historian Rosalie Richardson said.
But Virginia Black, a South Bend resident whose family still owns the property, simply wanted the home her great-great-grandfather built more than a century ago to be preserved for as long as it could.
“We thought having it on the national registry would bring more protection and interest to it,” Black said.
Rufus Black was a sawmill owner and farmer in Hancock County, and Richardson believes he might have held an elected office at some point in time. She said there is evidence that he built several homes in the area, and at least one of them is believed to have been connected to the Underground Railroad, although it’s never been proven.
The house is still in its original condition, without any major alterations. It was designated a Hoosier Homestead in 1994 because it has been owned by the same family for 100 years.
Virginia Black lived in the home for years as a teenager. She said it wasn’t uncommon for photos of the house or its old barn, which has since fallen down, to be photographed by blue-ribbon hopefuls for the 4-H fair.
She contacted the Indiana Landmarks’ Partners in Preservation National Register Program in 2013 for help compiling an application for the national registry.
It was no simple task.
Raina Regan, a Partners in Preservation historian, spent roughly 18 months researching Rufus Black, the city of Philadelphia and Sugar Creek Township, while also mapping and photographing the property to complete the 29-page form.
Dozens of structures in Indiana are added to the National Register of Historic Places each year, Regan said. The Rufus and Amanda Black House is now among 10 other buildings and two historic districts in Hancock County on the registry.
Black, too, has gone through many aged family documents, newspaper clippings and diary and ledger entries of Rufus Black’s in an effort to find out as much as she can about her family’s history. She doesn’t plan on stopping her research anytime soon.
“It has been interesting reading about how different everything was back then,” she said.
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