A Vice President's Home Reborn

By Eric Olson

October 1, 2012 Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 10:43 AM EDT

NORTH MANCHESTER, In. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- America’s had her share of lackluster vice presidents, counted among them might be Thomas Marshal, whose claim to fame was the quote "what this country needs is a really good 5-cent cigar."

Marshall’s home in Columbia City tells the story of his adult life but if you want details from his very beginning, you need to come to North Manchester.

This is the home in which Thomas Riley Marshall was born in 1854 appearing exactly as it did at the 28th vice president’s birth. But this old, original appearance is brand new, because this little house has been on quite a journey.

The Marshall house was built right on the town’s main street in 1848 and was moved at least twice in the past 150 years. Over that century and a half it was cut up and chopped up, inside and out.

“There were dormers,” says local historical society member Nancy Reed. “There were porches added on a garage and a kitchen.”

The result was a stitched together wood frame Frankenstein barely resembling the original structure. In 1994 the local historical society bought the home and moved it to a new location. They hired Joseph Kitchel, an architectural archeologist to determine precisely the original floor plan. The home was then restored, inside and out, to look exactly as it did when Thomas Marshall was born. To walk through it today, stocked with period furnishings, is to step back in time a century or more. It will be an extension of the North Manchester Historical Museum, and will be used to teach modern Americans how our ancestors lived.

“We have a lot of elementary school students that tour our museum,” says Nancy Reed, “and will tour this house and make them appreciate the past and how people had to live.”

And that will make a real contribution to our understanding of our own story, a posthumous gift of sorts, from an amiable near-great out in Your Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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