Do you Know the Story Behind these 16 Huge Murals in Shipshewana, Indiana?
This blog was originally posted on shipshewanatradingplace.com
When you think of Shipshewana, Indiana, you probably think of the huge flea market, the good food, or perhaps the Amish community. What you may not know is that Shipshewana has sixteen gorgeous and huge murals painted all over town!
In the summer of 2014, a group of highly-skilled sign painters and mural artists from all over the globe called the “Walldogs,” descended upon Shipshewana to paint murals all over town, both downtown and alll along Route 5.
Each mural is absolutely gorgeous, and each one has a meaning behind it! Check out the list below to learn more about where you can find the amazing paintings and what their story is.
Mural 1: Hezekiah Davis
This mural was dedicated to the most important man in the town of Shipshewana’s history. Hezekiah Davis moved to Lagrange when he was just a young boy, and his impact on the community was felt not long after. In 1888, he founded the town of Shipshewana. Without Mr. Davis’s influence, who knows where our town would be.
Location: Morton Alley, Shipshewana IN
Mural 2: Bennett Blacksmiths
Miles & Willard Bennett were a father-son duo that shod horses for locals from 1902 – 1954. While there are no actual blacksmith shops in Shipshewana today, there are many local men that provide the service & carry on the Bennett spirit.
Location: Shipshe General Store (420 N Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN)
Mural 2: Pumpkin Vine Railroad
The Pumpkin Vine Railroad was not only built before the town of Shipshewana, but it was also the reason for the town of Shipshewana! The tracks were laid in 1888 for a railroad running east & north from Goshen to Middlebury, then also up through Northeast Indiana into Sturgis, and finally Findlay, Michigan. Soon after, the town of Shipshewana was founded. Now, a biking trail has been implemented along the old railroad route from Goshen through Middlebury/Shipshewana.
Location: D’Vine Gallery Shop (310 N Harrison St, Shipshewana, IN)
Mural 4: Davis Hotel
What now stands as the Davis Mercantile originally served as a beautiful hotel. The hotel burned down in 2004 and was replaced by the new Mercantile.
Location: Davis Mercantile (255 Main St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Mural 5: Heminger Garage
Willard Francis Heminger was the owner of a mechanic shop in the area. His love for cars was expressed through the countless hours that he worked at his garage.
Location: Shipshewana Campground South (1105 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Mural 6: Amish Heritage
This mural is a simple dedication to the Amish of our area. The Amish first settled in Shipshewana in 1841 (as displayed on the mural), mostly from Somerset County, Pennsylvania. (These were the “Dutch Amish” who had come to Pennsylvania from Europe in the 1700s to escape persecution, and then moved westward into Ohio and then Indiana in the early 1800s.) Since they came to the area, the Amish culture has filled the area with strong values pe rtaining to family & religion.
Location: Spector’s (305 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog 7: Hudson’s
This mural is the only Walldog painting found inside at Shipshewana Event Center. It depicts Hudson Automobiles, one of the true treasures of Shipshewana. Although they were not actually created in Shipshewana, a young Amish boy’s love for these beauties is to be credited for this incredible assortment of Automobiles here in Shipshewana. That young Amish boy (Eldon Hostetler) grew up to become the famous inventor, and passed away in January of 2016.
Location: Shipshewana Event Center (760 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog #8: Klondike Saw Mill
This mural odes to the Klondike Saw Mill, founded in 1864. The original mill was steam-powered & looked “something like an old locomotive”. Supposedly, the sawmill was first located south of where Shipshewana now stands, but the Farver brothers (Jonathan and William) moved their business into town when the railroad came (in the 1880s), and the new railroad built a switch line back to the mill. Their lumberyard and sawmill were located on the east side of town (the section founded by Hezekiah Davis), where the town park is today.
Location: Countryroad Fabric & Gifts (1205 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog #9: M.Y. Miller General Merchandise
This mural on Fork’s County Line Store, depicts Mahlon Y. Miller, who originally worked as a clerk in the general store of J.E. Sunthimer. Eventually (sometime between 1920 & 1925), Mahlon opened his own general store. Although he had help from his wife, Mahlon invested nearly all of his time to his store. His work ethic exemplifies the kind of hard work that the people of Shipshewana put into what they believe in.
Location: Fork’s County Line Grocery Store (7900 E North Village Dr, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog #10: Pletchers Pacing Acres
This walldog is on the north side of the Farmstead Event Pavilion. Lester William Pletcher, along with his wife Irma, founded Pletcher’s Pacing Acres in 1935. Lester reportedly raced many top horses all throughout the midwest. He was admitted into the Harness Horse Hall of Fame in Indiana & Illinois.
Location: Farmstead Event Pavilion (368 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog #11: Mechanized Mail Carriers
Originally, Shipshewana mail was delivered by bikers. By 1915, these mail carriers were delivering mail via early model cars.
Location: Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes (461 S Van Buren St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Walldog #12: W.L. Reifsnider
Wesley Reifsnider was the owner of a high quality Harness Store in the early days of Shipshewana. He set very fair prices & specialized in making custom, handmade leather for both horse & rider. He was very well-respected among the people of Shipshewana during his time.
Location: Morton Alley
Mural 13: Shipshewana Indians
The Shipshewana Indians were a baseball team formed in 1906 from all local players by an Elkhart businessman named H.E. Bucklen. Mr. Bucklen constructed a resort near Shipshewana Lake which included a baseball field and stands. The team played their games on Sunday afternoons & drew fans from all over Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, who would take the train to see the games. It is unknown exactly when the Shipshewana Indians stopped playing, although it is speculated that World War 1 and the closing of the St. Joseph Valley Line led to the disapation of the team.
Location: Morton Alley, Shipshewana IN
Mural 14: The Bank of Shipshewana
Hewlitt Davis, son of Shipshewana founder Hezekiah Davis, was President of the original Farmers State Bank of Shipshewana. His partner was Levi Miller, whom served as the lead cashier at the bank.
Location: Hostetler Drug Store (260 Morton St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Mural 15: Wolfe Grain
This walldog actually has a mini biography painted into it! It reads, “Edward A Wolfe was born January 20th, 1890 on an 85 acre farm at CR675 & SR120. Ed was the youngest of 7 children and died 80 years later, after achieving much during his lifetime. He was a strong backbone in the community with his grain elevator business (now Hubbard Milling), served as the Bank President of the Shipshewana State Bank for 25 years, and served as an Indiana State Senator.”
Location: Hubbard Milling (135 Main St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Mural 16: J.E. Sunthimer Co.
This mural on the side of the Wolfe Building pays tribute to Joseph E. Sunthimer (as previously mentioned in this post). He was the owner of his own general store. He sold dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, hats, caps, queensware, and groceries. Queensware, according to Oxford Dictionary Online, was “a type of fine, cream-colored Wedgwood pottery developed in the mid-18th century and named in honor of Queen Charlotte (wife of George III), who had been presented with a set in 1765.”
Location: Wolfe Building (345 Morton St, Shipshewana, IN 46565)
Learn more about the Shipshewana Walldog Murals, and get turn-by-turn directions to go see them in person, by downloading the free Shipshewana Trading Place Mobile App! Once donwloaded, tap on the main menu, tap “Things to Do”, then select “Walldog Mural Trail.”
To view this original post in its entirety please visit shipshewanatradingplace.com
For more information regarding the Shipshewana Walldog Murals, please contact the Shipshewana Area Historical Society.
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