It was just a year ago I wrote about the Crown Point Tri Kappas offering a raffle for a framed print of the beloved Julia Child by artist James-Paul Brown and donated by Marty Wheeler of the Lake Court House Foundation.
There were two very interesting twists to this neo-impressionist painting of Child. First, the artist lived next door to Julia, which inspired him to create this painting, and second, he is a Crown Point native. James-Paul Brown was raised in Crown Point and actually lived near the downtown square.
This weekend, the Crown Point Courthouse, this special landmark of Northwest Indiana, is celebrating a 135th birthday and our Region's space claim-to-fame, astronaut Jerry Ross is returning to his home town of Crown Point to host the celebration at 2 p.m. Sunday, along with artist James-Paul Brown.
Wheeler, president of the Lake County Court House Foundation, has been helping spread the word about this month's free party celebration, in addition to her usual fundraising efforts.
Sunday's free afternoon will include music, art displays, wonderful scrapbooks of press and media mentions of the courthouse during the past century and refreshments. Ross, 65, will also be signing copies of his new 300-page hardcover autobiography "Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer" (2013 Purdue University Press, $30) just released in January of this year.
As for artist Brown, Wheeler reminded me that his great paternal grandfather John Brown was one of the first auditors of Lake County in 1878, and his name appears on the marble tablet in the court house rotunda. One of Crown Point's first banks was the First National Bank on the East side of the square where Moriarity's Jewelry store is now. I'm told it was also called "the Brown Bank," since it was owned and operated by the Brown Family. Today, this bank is now under the umbrella of Centier.
"The Browns were basically farm people having large land holdings south of Crown Point in the Kankakee River area," Wheeler said.
"Jim's mother is Jean Iddings Brown, and her father was a prominent physician in Crown Point in the early 1900s. They lived in the lovely two-story red brick home at the corner of South Court and Elmwood Place where today, lawyer Michael O'Brien and his wife Diane reside."
Artist Brown is a graduate of Culver Military Academy and now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. In addition to his wife Juliet serving as one of his favorite art subjects, along with Julia Child, he has also devoted his works to tributes to James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Pope John Paul II and U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, as well as capturing sporting events like boxing, marathons, the 1984 and 1996 U.S. Olympics, the Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl, as well as theatrical, music and ballet performances.
For more information about making a donation to the courthouse renovation fund or this weekend's birthday event, visit lakecourthousefoundation.org, call (219) 663-0660 or send contributions to:
Lake Court House Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 556
Crown Point, Indiana 46307-0556