In March, I told you about the renovation work that will be done at Oakhurst this summer. There have been some delays, but the work is starting now, just in time to mark the twentieth anniversary of the public opening of the house on May 27. This year also marks 120 years since George and Frances Ball moved into the house.
Oakhurst, the home of George and Frances Ball and their daughter Elisabeth, celebrates both its 120th and its 20th anniversaries this year. The house was built in 1895 and opened for public tours on May 27, 1995. It was designed by Indianapolis architect Louis Gibson who wanted the house to fit naturally into the oak grove selected by the family. Gibson did not paint the house, expecting that the wood siding and shingles would age naturally. Eventually, though, the house was both varnished and painted.
The Prohibition era of the 1920s and early 1930s generated plenty of colorful stories about rumrunners, bootleggers, and speakeasies. Moonshiners—those savvy entrepreneurs who produced their own high-proof distilled spirits—have their very own colorful Ball canning jar stories.
The history of Ball Corporation in a quilt! In 1976, this is what well-known Muncie artist Barbara Moll created for Ball Corporation’s new headquarters. Her five-panel creation documented the history of the company from its founding in 1880 in Buffalo, New York to the company’s entry into aerospace to the lid shortage of 1975.
Those of us of a certain age remember, with great fondness, the wonderful decorations at Ball Stores in downtown Muncie. Recently, I shared some photos of the decorations with the audience at the latest Tea & Talk at Minnetrista. During tea time, there was lots of chatter at the tables as new and old friends exchanged memories. It was especially great to meet one gentleman in the audience who had worked at Ball Stores for more than thirty-five years. Some of those years were spent working on the windows, and he told us that many of the decorations had originally been displayed at Saks Fifth Avenue!
When you buy your produce at Farmers Market at Minnetrista or your fresh cider and bag of apples at The Orchard Shop, you become part of a long Minnetrista tradition. Likewise, the children who learn about Johnny Appleseed and watch cider being pressed and tour the orchard to learn about apples are also part of the tradition.
Lucina Ball did not hesitate to offer sisterly advice to her younger brothers—Lucius, William, Edmund, Frank, and George. In a letter written in 1892, she suggested that the brothers “… get up a ‘syndicate’ to buy a whole square and build it all equally good, and so make your own surroundings.” They took her advice then, as they so often did, and purchased a thirty-three acre tract on the White River.
It was a wild and wooly evening when Lucy Ball, oldest daughter of Frank C. and Elizabeth Brady Ball, married Alvin Owsley on May 16, 1925. The wedding was held at the home of the bride’s parents, just as her sister Margaret’s wedding was the previous year. The setting was lovely, the guests were many, and the bride and groom had their nerves under control. The weather, however, did not cooperate.
Jars, jars, and more jars. In addition to more than 1,000 fruit jars, the Minnetrista Heritage Collections includes approximately 100 packer jars. So what is a packer jar?
What a great idea! Give away a jar, encourage canning, and, of course, sell a few products. That’s exactly what Ball Brothers Company did for the International Canning Contests held during the 1930s.