A Weird and Wonderful Governorís Home
Karen M. Vincent
Minnetrista Director of Collections
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They’re all around us—Ball fruit jars are used for just about everything these days. In the last few years, I’ve seen Ball jars used as light fixtures, flower vases, wedding décor, hand lotion containers, luminaries and, sometimes, for canning.
Indiana governor Otis “Doc” Bowen and his first wife, Beth, were way ahead of the game, though. The couple was interviewed for the May/June 1974 issue of Ball Line, the newsletter for employees of Ball Corporation. Bowen was in his first term as governor then, but he and Mrs. Bowen were already planning for retirement. They built a lodge-style home in his hometown of Bremen, Indiana, and filled it with comfortable furniture, political mementos, and Ball jars—lots and lots of Ball jars.
“The house is not a stately mansion with pillared front and a wide expanse of well-groomed lawn,” says Bill Brantley, author of the Ball Line article. “Inside there is no butler, no formal dining room, no French antique furniture.” Instead, the house featured a living room with a huge stone fireplace and a wrought-iron chandelier hung from the beamed ceiling with twelve lights covered by blue Ball jars.
Mrs. Bowen carried the Ball jar theme throughout the house. There is a four-jar chandelier above the kitchen table, seven Ball jar sconces throughout the main level and seven more sconces on the second level. In the kitchen Mrs. Bowen used Ball jars in place of canisters in the kitchen. Governor Bowen was able to enjoy his home and his Ball jars for many years. He died May 4, 2013 at age ninety-six.
Check out other uses of Ball jars currently featured in the Minnetrista Heritage Gallery as part of the Weird and Wonderful: 25 Reasons to Love Our Community! exhibit. There’s nothing quite as visually spectacular as the Bowen’s chandelier, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy many other uses of the Ball fruit jar.
You can also find great Ball jar craft ideas on our Pinterest Board!