PORTER — A home that played a role in the development of the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park will be included for the first time this year on an annual tour of historically significant structures within the local park.

The Read Dunes House will be among 13 landmark sites featured during the May 4 Logs to Lustrons Tour, said Cliff Goins, IDNL special events coordinator.

The goal of the tour, which is in its fourth year, is to highlight 200 years of architectural design and historical structures within the 15,000-acre local national park, he said.

Stops will include the popular Bailly Homestead and nearby Chellberg Farm and lesser-known sites such as the Read Dunes House.

The Read home, which blended Prairie style with elements from the surrounding landscape in 1952 for the home of local environmental advocates Philo and Irene Read, is not significant because of its design; it's more significant for its role as a gathering place for those who fought to preserve the surrounding dunes landscape and help usher in what would become a national park.

Herb Read, who along with wife, Charlotte, was instrumental in getting the park recognized as a National Lakeshore in 1966, designed the home for his parents on Tremont Road within the park's boundaries.

The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in late 2011. It was designed around a stone fireplace, which Herb Read has said is symbolic of the communal fires that played an important role for Native Americans and the 1908 Prairie Club that was instrumental in getting early recognition for the Dunes as an area to be preserved.

Swedish landmarks

The Bailly Homestead complex serves as the oldest structures on the tour, dating back to 1822, Goins said. The main house was built up around a log cabin, he said, thus explaining the log reference in the tour's name.

The nearby Chellberg Farm, and the Gust Lindstrom site and its World War I-era Wahl Barn, will highlight the area's historic Swedish community, Goins said. 

Another unique representation of that Swedish community is the Peter Larson site, which features a two-story yellow home from 1910 that had been ordered out of the Sears catalog, he said. The home was shipped in sections that were assembled on site. 

There also are two other prefabricated homes on the tour, but from the later era of the 1950s, Goins said. These are the Lustron homes, which are made of porcelain enameled steel.

Other features on the tour will be the Meyer Home and Solomon Enclave, the latter a family gathering place from 1948, Goins said.

Visit the Good Fellow Lodge

The Logs to Lustrons Tour offers unique opportunities to view restored buildings not typically open to the public, according to Bruce Rowe, supervisory park ranger and public information officer with Indiana Dunes National Park.

"The tour takes you to U.S. Steel’s Good Fellow Lodge, the centerpiece of a youth camp overlooking the Little Calumet River that the company maintained from 1941 to 1976 for employees’ children," he said.

Indiana Landmarks, which is a nonprofit historic preservation group, will again help oversee this year's tour, said Deb Parcell, community preservation specialist at the group's South Bend office.

The group leases historically significant buildings from the park service and then subleases them to individuals who are required to remodel according to stringent historically accurate standards, she said.

"So we are kind of the middleman," Parcell said.

Those wanting a deeper understanding of the houses on this year's tour are invited to an illustrated talk at 6:30 p.m. May 3 entitled, "Logs, Glass & Metal: A Century of Architectural Legacy." Tickets for the talk are $10 per person.

The building tour costs $30 per person, and the talk and tour are free to children 16 and younger, but children must have a ticket. There is an option of purchasing a box lunch.

FYI: Tickets to the Logs to Lustrons tour are limited and available now online or by calling 800-450-4534.


Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.