Listing as a historic district recognizes an area that has a high degree of historical integrity in its buildings, structures, and landscapes. To be eligible, a district is required to have been associated with events, developments, or people that were important in the history of the state or country. In addition, districts on the National Register must be at least 50 years old and look much the way they did in the past.
“It’s a great honor for our park to be listed on the National Register,” said Patrick Haulter, the park’s interpretive naturalist. “It really speaks to how important this park is, not only to the people who live here, but to everyone.”
The state park near Nashville, Indiana first opened in 1929. In the park’s early years, with growing interest from the public, several facilities were developed, including Abe Martin Lodge and overnight cabins. A large portion of the facilities work done shortly thereafter came via the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), whose members built many of the other existing buildings, shelters, roads, vistas, trails, and Ogle Lake, as well as the west lookout tower.
“Much of the CCC’s legacy is what is being honored with this listing,” said Ben Clark, cultural resources manager for the Division of State Parks.
CCC Veterans Company 1557 started its work in the park in 1934, planting forests of trees to help address the severe erosion on hillsides that had been cleared by settlers for timber years before the land was acquired by the state.
Now, with nearly 16,000 acres, Brown County State Park is the largest state park in Indiana and one of the most popular.
Indiana Landmarks staff authored the nomination, partnering with the DNR and supported by local preservation group Peaceful Valley Heritage. Researchers for the nomination documented nearly 70 buildings, sites, and structures that contribute to the park’s historical significance.
“The natural and built environment blend seamlessly at Brown County State Park, making it a place that is cherished by all Hoosiers,” said Mark Dollase, vice president of Preservation Services at Indiana Landmarks. “We greatly value our partnership with the Department of Natural Resources to recognize and preserve the park’s many important historic places.”
Brown County State Park is the sixth Indiana state park to be listed on the National Register, joining Pokagon, Mounds, Shakamak, Turkey Run, and Fort Harrison state parks. Several other Indiana state parks have individual buildings listed. Examples are Tepicon Hall at Tippecanoe River State Park, the Stanley Schoolhouse at Chain O’Lakes State Park, and the Lusk Home at Turkey Run State Park.
Brown County State Park (on.IN.gov/browncountysp) is on State Road 46 just outside of Nashville, Indiana.