The name Farmland might suggest a sleepy rural place, but visitors to the small Randolph County community find a spirited, fun place that has capitalized on preservation to revitalize the town. |
If you live in a downtrodden small town or neighborhood, you might consider recruiting a couple of gay guys to move there.
Before Larry Francer and Jerome Herron moved to Farmland (pop. 1450) in eastern Indiana, it was not a place on the upswing. But Jerome’s dad was ill back in his hometown and their New York acting careers were stalled, so in 1990 they bought a historic house in Farmland.
They restored the place and opened Tanglevine Crossing, a gift shop that morphed over the next 23 years to include a candy and dessert-making emporium with a world-wide clientele. This year, for example, they shipped 81 pounds of candy to Riyadh for the wedding of a Saudi Arabian princess.
When Larry and Jerome looked around in 1990, they saw room for improvement in Farmland. In their upbeat, theatrical, make-it-fun way, they recruited other citizens and formed Historic Farmland, USA. The group nominated the downtown to the National Register, spearheaded streetscape improvements, bought-restored-sold a Main Street building, and found a buyer to repurpose a historic grain elevator, for pete’s sake.
To save the threatened Randolph County Courthouse, they put the idea of a nude fundraising calendar to the elderly members of the Farmland Bridge Club. The courthouse was saved and the club starred in an award-winning documentary film, Courthouse Girls of Farmland.
Folks involved in Historic Farmland and the town’s preservation commission deserve credit for the changes in Farmland, but it took these two outgoing guys who’d seen the world and brought their New York sense of style and experience to Farmland and got the ball rolling.
Larry and Jerome are moving back east this fall because Larry has taken a job working for Indiana Landmarks staff alum Wayne Goodman at the Landmark Society of Western New York. They’re putting Tanglevine Crossing up for sale, leaving it in a lot better shape than when they found it. Ditto Farmland.
Historic Farmland USA
Courthouse Girls of Farmland