Into the Woods
Are you the kind of old house-lover who dreams of finding a time-capsule place, unaltered by ’60s or ’80s renovations? Indiana Landmarks has the place for you. Scarcely altered since 1905, the Marcus Dickey House in Brown County even has its original outhouse! Potential buyers take note: we recently listed the unique property for sale.
We acquired the house and five surrounding acres from Indiana University, which had owned it since 1942. Perched on Bear Wallow Hill amid the 550-acre Lilly-Dickey Woods, the property is about 20 miles from Indiana University’s Bloomington’s campus and a few miles northeast of Nashville. We’ll sell the property to a preservation-minded buyer, with a covenant that ensures its long-term protection.
The provenance of the Free Classic-style home includes several prominent Hoosiers. Marcus Dickey (1859-1950) served as James Whitcomb Riley’s long-time personal secretary and authored two posthumous biographies of the poet. With his wife, Isabelle, Dickey bought 151 acres in Brown County in 1905 and built the retreat they dubbed the “House of 30 Windows.”
The home served as a cherished haven for the couple, who took pleasure in the company of old growth trees and notable neighbors, including T.C. Steele and his wife Selma. In 1921, J.K. and Lila Lilly bought land adjacent to the Dickeys’ property but never built a home there. In 1942, the Dickeys sold their sprawling estate to Indiana University for $1, and the Lillys donated their adjacent acreage to the university for the same nominal fee. The gifts came with the understanding that IU would preserve the land in its natural state and use it for education and research in botany and the arts – a use that the property continues to serve.
Beginning in 1949, IU leased the Dickey House to Ken and Barbara Tuxhorn, who operated a Boy Scout camp on the site for more than 50 years. Ken Tuxhorn blazed several hiking trails through the woods surrounding the house, including a distinctive “Flags of the Nations” trail lined with the banners of 112 countries. Today, the flags are gone, but the concrete bases that once supported flagpoles still line both sides of the trail.
The house has been vacant since 2013. Simple but handsome, the sylvan home retains its original wood siding, trim, and windows. The interior features original Craftsman-inspired woodwork, doors, floors, and stairs. Every window frames a view of the home’s tranquil setting, and a wraparound front porch with classical details offers a perfect spot for observing nature.
While the architecture is remarkably intact, several of the building’s historic systems — HVAC, plumbing, and electrical — need an update.
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