Many people are familiar with the point in Indiana, the intersection of School Street, Sixth Street, and Wayne Avenue, as there are so many historic homes in this area. Two of the main homes are the Silas M. Clark House and the J.P. Carter Home (known as the Heritage Inn Suites). The history behind the J.P. Carter Mansion is an interesting one, and his story intertwines with our very own Silas Clark. The home was built in 1870, at the same time as Mr. Clark built his home. Carter had the single-family dwelling built at a cost of $30,000 (a little over $500,000 today). The house was built on a tract of 3 and a half acres of what was considered at the time as “the most desirable location in Indiana.” Mr. Clark began construction on his home, at the point, in 1869 and completed in 1870; Mr. Clark had obtained the architect whom Carter had desired, so he deliberately built a larger home than his neighbor. Not only was it larger in size, but it was also taller at the time.
There is not much information regarding J.P. Carter, except that he married Nancy Ralston and he was involved in banking. The Indiana Progress reported on August 4, 1870 that the “large and costly residence of Mr. James P. Carter” was just about finished and would be ready for occupancy that coming winter. The paper called the home “one of the finest private residences in the Western part of the state.” By 1872, both Silas Clark and James Carter had pavements laid around their elegant homes. In 1874, it was sadly reported in the Indiana Messenger that the home would be put up for sale as Mr. Carter fell on hard times financially and his health was declining. Following is the description that was reported:
The cellar is nine feet high in the clear and divided into five compartments. The first floor consists of five rooms, parlor, library, bed chamber, large dining room, with kitchen, and wash house attached, one and a half stories high, with large cellar under the whole of it. Elegant range in the kitchen, and bake-oven in the wash house. The main hall is wide and spacious, the side hall on the north side is also wide, and in it is the main stair way. There is also a hall entering from the south side; also store room and china closet adjoining the kitchen and dining room. There is also bath room and water closets. Nearly the whole of the first floor is finished in walnut, the entire stairway, railing and steps are walnut. The second floor is component of five large bed chambers, bath rooms and water closet, hot and cold water, gas and every other convenience. The third story constructed with a mansard roof, forms five bed chambers on which also the water tank is located. [. . .] The mantles in the house are all of the finest marble, with marble stationary wash stands, hot and cold water in every room.”
James P. Carter died on August 5, 1874 after a battle with consumption. It was reported that Mr. Carter was an “energetic, reliable and industrious business man” and was held in high esteem.
The next owner of this marvelous home in Indiana was Thomas Sutton, who purchased the house in 1879, and moved in with his new wife Ella Hildebrand. He was the son of John Sutton, one of the founders of the Indiana Normal School (now IUP). Sutton was a lawyer and went to Princeton at the age of 16, and was a prominent businessman and community leader. Thomas was also involved with the Indiana Foundry and the Strawboard Company (later known as the Indiana Paper Mill Company). He also served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Indiana Normal School, and was President of the Board for 39. Thomas Sutton had such a profound impact that when an addition was built on to John Sutton Hall it was known as Thomas Sutton Hall.
After Thomas Sutton died in 1942, the home was sold to Mr. Musser, who divided it into apartments. The home now features suites that can be rented, and the history of the home comes alive on warm summer days when going past you notice that there is a wedding ceremony occurring. This is one of the most unique and grandeur homes in Indiana. Although today, you will notice one prominent piece of the home missing and that is the tower above the third floor; it was removed sometime in the 1970s due to disrepair. As you stroll down Sixth Street, you will have a better understanding of one of the unique homes located on this historic street.