New Carlisle Renovation Reveals Hidden History

Historic New Carlisle launches another downtown renovation project and uncovers some long-hidden history in the process.

Historic New Carlisle
Historic New Carlisle is renovating the former Miller's Home Cafe building with hopes of enticing new business to the downtown location. (Photo: Todd Zeiger)

Signs of the Times

Fresh off the successful restoration of a historic office and museum space, Indiana Landmarks’ affiliate Historic New Carlisle (HNC) has launched another downtown renovation project, uncovering some long-hidden history in the process.

Most long-time New Carlisle residents know the building as part of Miller’s Home Café. Famous for its down-home cooking, including fried chicken and homemade noodles, the beloved restaurant occupied two connected storefronts on Michigan Street for nearly 60 years.

After the restaurant closed in 2017, Historic New Carlisle used a loan from Indiana Landmarks to acquire one of the storefronts, removing a 1970s facade and returning its historic appearance. The group rehabbed the one-story building as a local history museum, gift shop, and programming space, using additional funding from the Efroymson Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the St. Joseph County Tourism Capital Development Fund, and the Indiana Historical Society.

After completing the museum restoration, the HNC team found itself itching for a new project – missing the daily camaraderie and sense of fulfillment. Using another loan from Indiana Landmarks, the group bought the second café storefront earlier this year.

As volunteers tackled interior renovation, they uncovered historic signage hidden under layers of plaster and paneling. Constructed later than its one-story neighbor, the two-story building covered a formerly exterior wall advertising Steinway, Chase, and Starr Pianos.

Historic New Carlisle Miller's Cafe Building

The group discovered more evidence of the building’s history when wind gusts pulled aluminum loose off the exterior. HNC Executive Director Dana Groves and Board Member Marcy Kauffman had to see what was underneath; peeling back the aluminum, they uncovered signs from the restaurant’s early days.

Historic New Carlisle Miller's Cafe Building

HNC plans to make exterior improvements to the two-story building before marketing it for sale, hoping to entice new business to downtown New Carlisle. Crews are already working to remove aluminum siding from the front façade, restore original windows on the second floor, and freshen up the cornice, and paint. If funds allow, the group will restore the historic storefront as well.

For more information about the project, contact Dana Groves, executive director, Historic New Carlisle,, 574-654-3897

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