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.
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.
When Clem Studebaker constructed his mansion in the late 19th century, its warm stonework, vaulted wood ceilings, and winding staircase gave it an air of easy elegance. Today, the building is a National Historic Landmark and the home of Tippecanoe Place Restaurant, which specializes in American cuisine as timeless as the venue itself. Guests gather beneath gleaming chandeliers to indulge in steaks, seafood, and pasta dishes, some recipes recent additions, and others which have stood the test of time. But the restaurant's raison d'être remains its prime rib: corn-fed beef, coated in herbs and slow roasted all day to ensure tender texture and rich flavor.
That classic cooking adds a tasty touch to year-round events. In the fall, sports fans can stop by for football tailgating parties, whereas the winter sees the mansion decorated for the holidays in true Victorian style. The highlight of the season is undoubtably the eight-foot tall gingerbread house, constructed every year with more than 800 pounds of candy, icing, and bread.
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.
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