(modeled after newspaper articles of Gene Stratton-Porter's Geneva years)
By Curt Burnette
To the gratification of all Genevaites and other local citizens of the surrounding environs who have been faithful observers to its construction while eagerly awaiting its completion, Geneva's delightful new attraction, the Limberlost Visitor Center, is now open. This beautiful 4000 square foot building is clad with Alaskan cedar, but not in the usual lap-siding pattern of which we all are so well acquainted. Instead, these quite attractive boards are arranged in a West Coast style know as "rain screen." A gap between and behind each board permits them to dry in a most efficient manner after each rainfall and therefore impart to them a longer life. the Limberlost State Historic Site is the first location in the fine state of Indiana to have a structure with this particular type of rain screen design. The rustic golden Alaskan cedar marvelously compliments the red cedar logs covering the Limberlost Cabin where local author and celebrity Mrs. Gene Stratton-Porter and her husband Mr. Charles Porter, himself a local businessman and citizen of note, resided so many years ago.
The interior of this building contains three noteworthy areas. Visitors enter the central area through a wonderful glass foyer where handicap-accessible restrooms and drinking fountains await. Beyond the foyer lies a grand and open room with a splendid cathedral-style ceiling. Within is housed the Friends of the Limberlost gift retail establishment and several enlightening exhibitions about Mrs. Porter, her career, her family, and her beloved Limberlost. To the rear of this lovely hall a small bird-viewing room is discreetly placed for the pleasure of the ornithologically-minded.
The western end of the Center houses a fine storeroom, office facilities for the illustrious Historic Site staff, and a classroom/multi-purpose room appointed with audio-visual equipment of the most updated capabilities. This pleasant classroom can be cleverly arranged with chairs and tables for programs, presentations, meetings, and gatherings of all manner and purpose. The eastern end contains an office for the sturdy and dedicated Nature Preserves staff, a kitchenette, a room housing furnaces and other devices of mechanical nature, plus another, albeit smaller, multi-purpose room.
Limberlost staff undertook the arduous but satisfying move into the building in mid-January and threw open its doors to the public by the end of the month. A dedication and grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at 11:00 am. This festivity will truly be a community-wide celebration as our new attraction will not only welcome visitors to the Historic Site but also to the area at large. A bodacious brochure rack in the grand hall abounds with information about Geneva, Berne, Adams, and Jay counties, and the Hoosier State as a recreational and tourist destination.
The Visitor Center is the latest step in the most worthy effort to restore and promote the Land of the Limberlost. Mrs. Porter's writings made the Limberlost famous around the world. The heyday of her immense popularity and the magnificence of the might swamp are gone now, but the Limberlost Cabin remains, her books are still read and admired, and the Limberlost Nature Preserves still provide access to the wonders of nature she so enjoyed. The Limberlost Visitor Center is the gateway into her world an is quite deserving of a visit. So govern yourself accordingly.
Source: Berne Tri-Weekly, Limberlost Notebook column, March 2013.
[Note the ground breaking ceremony for the Visitor Center was held in October 2011. As then Site Manager Randy Lehman said it started as a dream he drew on a napkin and it took several years to raise the funds to build it].