(New Carlisle, IN) - A building restoration effort in New Carlisle has led to an unexpected historic discovery.
Last year, the town’s history museum opened in half of what used to be Miller’s Home Café. Recently, volunteers have been rehabbing the other half to create viable commercial space.
Under layers of plaster and paneling, workers found a blast from the past—classic advertising from days gone by.
Dana Groves, executive director of Historic New Carlisle, was involved in the discovery. She says underneath crumbling plaster workers discovered a large painted letter on a brick wall. As they removed more material, additional letters appeared. Groves likened the effort to playing Wheel of Fortune.
The letters spelled out piano brands Steinway, Chase, Richmond, and Starr, as well as the name of an orchestra that used to play in the area. Part of the advertising mural boasts, "PIANO OF ELBEL BROTHERS ITS A GOOD ONE!"
Groves says the painted brick surface that had been hidden in Miller's cafe dining room for 60 years was originally an exterior wall. "The building that we're in now, the museum, was built before the building next door," she says. "And it stood here by itself for several years. So the outside of that building was used for advertising." That was nearly a hundred years ago.
Groves thinks the ads were either for a furniture store previously in that building or for a music store in South Bend.
She says they intend to preserve the hand-painted lettering, but more discoveries possibly await. "Unfortunately, that's a two-story building. There's two more rows of lettering above what we've found, that we don't know what it says. So we haven't been able to complete the whole puzzle." As the weather improves, Groves says they'll focus on exterior work and see what else they find.
When the rehab is completed later this year, it will be available as retail space… with a little extra charm.