No place like home

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COMMENTARY
By Jeff Worrell

If these walls could talk, what stories they could tell. The walls erected at 321 N. Range Line Rd. are owned by Amy Forbush, who is in the process of restoring the stately home. But the rich history of the house, once occupied by Franklin and Hanson Booth, will not be forgotten if Doreen Squire Ficara, Stephanie Marshall and Ron Carter have anything to say about it.

The threesome has done its homework, compiling the details about the story of the famous artists and accomplished illustrators who once lived there. Franklin, the eldest brother and member of the Carmel High School Hall of Fame, was a nationally-known artist contributing to top American magazines, such as Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, McClure’s and Cosmopolitan.  He also illustrated recruiting posters for WWI and US Savings Bonds, and created death certificates for U.S. soldiers who perished in France and Belgium.

Frequent guests of Franklin at his house included Theodore Dreiser, his companion on a road trip from New York to Indiana, and throughout Indiana. Dreiser was author of the book, “A Hoosier Holiday.” Another visitor was James Whitcomb Riley. Franklin also did illustrations for the works of both distinguished authors.

His younger brother, Hanson, was also a recognized illustrator, but well known as a cartoonist.  He went to Indiana University and his work appeared in magazines, too.

Doreen, Ron and Stephanie are working to find funding to place the Booth home on the list of Carmel locations with historical significance, and thus earning a plaque. There are seven such famous locations in Carmel now, and the Booth home, along with the Peele House, would raise it to the perfect number for a walking tour, a tour mapped out and planned as part of the 175th anniversary celebration of Carmel this summer.

Funding, funding, funding – always a stumbling block which must be overcome. Before a beautiful bronze plaque (as yet unfunded) can be placed on the Booth home, a new coat of paint and the labor to apply needs to appear. Ficara said, “The home is such an important piece of Carmel’s history. I just can’t let it fade away due to lack of funding. I believe someone out there has the resources to help us out.”

Perhaps you have a thought or an idea about how to get this project completed. If so, please send an e-mail to Doreen Squire Ficara at dsfcarmelarts@yahoo.com. Our 175th anniversary year seems like the perfect time to preserve a rich piece of Carmel history.

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