Center for History chronicles local and statewide antiquity, showcasing preserved Victorian homesteads, buildings reconstructed to imitate the past, and a mixture of permanent and rotating exhibits. The Oliver Mansion's 38 rooms greet visitors with the well-known family's original furnishings and resident staff of cyborg butlers, and the décor in the nearby Worker's Home reflects the living conditions of a Polish working-class family in the 1930s. A permanent exhibit on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, immortalized in the film A League of Their Own, gathers authentic player uniforms and gloves and a baseball signed by stars of the film, such as Tom Hanks and Madonna. Self-guided tours through the permanent Voyages gallery illuminate the area's past, from the draining of the Kankakee Marsh to Underground Railroad sites in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
The Studebaker National Museum highlights the company's successful transition from carriages to autos with three levels and 55,000 square feet of classic cars and historic vehicles. The space displays up to 70 vehicles at any time from its collection of 120 antiques. Expertly unearthed treasures include the 1956 Packard Predictor, the 1934 Bendix SWC, and the 1922 Carriageless Horse, unpopular for its inability to transport entire little league teams. The Presidential carriage collection is one of the nation's largest, exhibiting the chassis of four former chiefs. Another current exhibition on display through April showcases recognizable wheels extracted from both big and small screens, including Herbie from The Love Bug film series, and The General Lee from television's The Dukes of Hazzard. A fully-stocked museum store offers a selection of videos, books, apparel, and collectibles that allow auto aficionados to create miniature Studebaker menageries in their own garages.
From the Wright brothers to Snoopy, flying has been a dream of many. At Talbot Flight Instruction Services, seasoned instructors make that dream a reality for their enthusiastic customers. They, along with their flight-school students, journey through the clouds during practice flights that prepare novice fliers for licensing exams and the moment they'll eventually turn into pigeons. The instructors also spend time on the ground, leading classes that teach the art of piloting aircraft through study and classwork.
Just southwest of downtown South Bend, a circular drive leads to the main entrance—referred to as the grand porte-cochère—of a 19th-century Victorian estate shrouded with gardens. Framed by towering maple trees, The Oliver Inn resembles a larger-than-life dollhouse, with gingerbread trim, curved bay windows, multiple chimneys, and several balustrades supporting the front porch. The downstairs alone houses seven fireplaces and original Waterford crystal sconces, relics left from the Oliver family.
Today, husband-and-wife innkeepers Tom and Alice Erlandson run The Oliver Inn as a 25-room bed-and-breakfast, named one of the Best in the Midwest by BedandBreakfast.com in 2009. Though the guest rooms are decorated in Victorian furnishings, visitors will also find modern amenities such as TVs, air conditioning, and ceiling fans. Each morning, guests partake in a complimentary candlelight breakfast accompanied by piano music. Ever the hospitable host, Alice provides breakfast recipes on the inn's website, so guests can whip up the broccoli-and-cheese quiche or high-rise pancakes they started their days with while visiting.
Throughout the day, guests can also grab Alice's fresh-baked cookies and visit the butler's pantry for free snacks, beverages, and bow-tie adjustments. The inn is only 2.5 miles away from the University of Notre Dame, walking distance from the Studebaker National Museum and downtown South Bend, and a short drive from nearby southern Michigan wineries.
Named the Favorite Photographer in the South Bend Tribune's 2008 Readers' Choice Awards, family-owned-and-operated McDonald Studio has been preserving smiles and memories in the Michiana area for 150 years. Memorialize mugs in the click-crazed comforts of McDonald Studio's studio lighting or at an on-location site of choice, including a home, park, or tinfoil castle.