After the Civil War, as technological advances spurred an increasingly industrial way of life, urban centers filled with factories spewing soot and vehicles raising dirt and noise. To get away from it all, entrepreneurs and industry captains built country estates on the far fringes of town, architecturally-grand dwellings with elaborate landscaping.
In Fort Wayne, Foundry mogul John Henry Bass recruited Wing & Mahurin to design a Romanesque Revival-style mansion in 1902 after his first country estate on the site burned. Built of fire-proof stone with carved grotesques, stained-glass windows, murals, mosaic tile, and carved mahogany, oak, and birds eye maple woodwork, Brookside is a jewel of the era. Bass dammed brooks nearby to create an artificial lake, and added elk, buffalo, cattle, and horses to the pastoral setting.
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Photo: Matt R. Kyle
Though the animals are long gone, the mansion shines brightly once again following a multi-million dollar restoration by St. Francis University. The university offers guided tours of the landmark by appointment. For more information, call the tour coordinator at 260-399-8037 or visit www.sf.edu/sf/brookside.
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