Hoosier Author's Home to Get a Facelift

By Eric Olson

December 23, 2011 Updated Dec 23, 2011 at 1:56 PM EDT

GENEVA, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Gene Stratton-Porter’s Sylvan Lake home is a beautiful spot but it was the legendary author and naturalist’s second choice. Her first was this, her home in Geneva Indiana, where she lived from 1895 to 1912 before moving to Sylvan Lake. The attraction for Porter was the homes proximity to the Limberlost swamp, 13-thousand acres of wetlands, songbirds, exotic plants and animals.

Porter spent years studying the Limberlost and writing up her findings in numerous nature books but it was her novels, beginning with ‘The Girl of the Limberlost’, that became wildly popular, five of them selling more than a million copies each.

“Her novels I think still speak to everyone’s desire to live a good life,” says curator Randy Lehman, “to be a good person, despite the trials and tribulations that we all face.”

To her horror Porter watched as her beloved Limberlost swamp was drained, logged and tamed. By 1912 it was virtually gone and porter left Geneva forever. But change is happening here the author would embrace. State officials are recreating parts of the Limberlost, restoring more than ten percent of the valuable wetlands to their natural state. And the Geneva home itself will soon get a facelift including a new visitor’s center. The addition will allow museum offices to move out of the homes cramped second floor to make way for restoration of the entire upstairs. The whole purpose, of course, to better tell the story of this remarkable woman who enlightened the world on so many fronts, during her very brief, very productive tenure in this corner of Your Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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