Opposites Attract at Bedford Landmark Look

Our Double Landmark Look in Bedford on June 11 showcases two private homes, including one in an old jail.

Lawrence County Sheriff's Residence

A Tale of Two Landmarks

Close your eyes for a minute and picture a stone castle, complete with fortified stockade. Now imagine the quintessential storybook cottage, with steep gables and a charming slate roof. Sound like a scene from a fairy tale? On June 11, fiction becomes reality during our Double Landmark Look in Bedford, featuring two privately owned historic homes from opposite ends of the architectural spectrum.

After years of living in exotic locales around the world, Rowena and Seid Cross-Najifi moved to Bedford to be closer to family. They fell in love with the castle-like character of the former Lawrence County Sheriff’s Residence and Jail, and bought the property about a dozen years ago. The Romanesque Revival-style residence was built in 1904 around a brick and stone jail dating back to 1859. The arrangement, common in the nineteenth century, allowed the sheriff to easily keep an eye on the inmates while his family helped with their care. At the Lawrence County jail, prisoners were separated by the jail’s three levels: women on the top floor, men on the main floor, and younger offenders on the lowest level.

Lawrence County sheriff's residence

A larger-than-life suit of armor guards the entry of the former Lawrence County sheriff’s residence and jail in Bedford.

The Cross-Najifis rehabbed the sheriff’s residence – including recreating missing trim, refinishing floors, and adding bathrooms – while retaining details including the dumbwaiter, barrel-vaulted kitchen ceiling, and other unusual features from the home’s unusual past use. The jail portion of the building remains largely unchanged. The family uses it primarily for storage, but it has also been the site for video and movie shoots. Not surprisingly, a previous owner used the space for a haunted house.

On nearby L Street, Jim and Becky Buher’s home may be more traditional, but it represents an equal labor of love. Becky grew up in the 1840 Dunihue House – one of Bedford’s oldest homes – when it was divided into apartments. After inheriting the property from her parents, she and her husband rehab the home, returning it to single-family status. The two-year restoration project recaptured the original configuration and included repairs to the slate roof and box gutters, restoration of the original eight-foot tall windows, plaster repairs, updated systems, and wallpaper removal.

Donihue-Buher House, Bedford

Donihue-Buher House, Bedford. (Photo: Rich Janzaruk, Bedford Times-Mail)

The Buhers incorporated green elements, including solar panels on the garage roof and a rainwater collection system created for the garden. The couple earned a 2014 Rosemary Prentice preservation award from Indiana Landmarks’ Southern Regional Office for their outstanding work in restroring the house.

Tickets for the Double Landmark Look are free for Indiana Landmarks members, $15 per person for non-members. Reservations are required and attendance is limited.

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