Arden Hearth is located at 202 N. 15th Street, Richmond, Indiana. Map and directions
Richmond offers a number of area attractions.
Built by the Gaar family in the Historic Starr District of Richmond in the 1880s, the house was renovated at the turn of the century to reflect the classical trends in Queen Anne architecture. Beautifully restored, it is an excellent example of the finest craftsmanship of the late Victorian period.
The name Arden Hearth alludes to an intentional community in Arden, Delaware, founded on the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement around the same time that this house was built. Our hope is that you will find Arden Hearth a similar haven for writers and artists of all kinds, from professionals to beginners, to gather in an intimate space and nurture the creative spark within.
This house was built in 1883 for Clem and Fannie Gaar. Clem was the second son of wealthy local industrialist Abram Gaar, who cofounded the Gaar-Scott Co. which manufactured steam-powered farm machinery. Abram built the Gaar Mansion (then called Maplewood) on his fatherís farm north of Richmond in 1875 when Clem was in his teens. Due to an accident at the plant when he was young, Clem did not join the family business, but tried a number of other enterprises. In his early years, he ran a livery and livestock business and raced horses successfully. He later helped start one of the first roller skate manufacturers in the area.
Clem married Fannie McMeans in 1882 — he was 22 and she was just 17 — and ordered this house from architect Stephen Yates, who designed three other Gaar homes in the neighborhood. The house was extensively remodeled around the turn of the century to reflect the Queen Anne style. The elegant entrance hall with its sweeping stairway and stained glass windows was added, as were the oval dining room and three rooms upstairs.
Clem and Fannie had two children: Lucille and Russell, both of whom were born in this house. In 1905, Lucille married Joseph Hill, who worked with his father in a successful floral business and soon had his own greenhouses. Their lavish wedding at First Methodist was one of the social events of the year in Richmond with several hundred guests. The reception was held here at her parentsí newly remodeled home, and the papers described the decorations and flowers in detail.
Clem and Fannie continued to live here ítil 1919, when they sold the house to the Harringtons and moved to Maplewood. They lived there only a year and a half, however, before Clem accepted an offer from his son-in-law, who wanted to use the farm for raising special dairy cattle. They moved to a modest arts & crafts style home on SW 3rd St. across the river.
Clemís son Russell Gaar married Opal and they had two daughters, Martha and Mary Frances, but he died tragically in 1932 in an auto accident. His father Clem died later that same year. Fannie died a few years later. Lucille kept a box of old photos, letters, and newspaper clippings, and her daughter Joanna used this information — as well as conducting extensive research — to write a book about the Gaar family history entitled The Gaar Family: Pioneers of Industry.
We donít know much about the history of the house after the Harringtons left. At one point, it was divided into apartments. Ted Toller rescued the house from demolition in the 1980s and spent about 20 years lovingly restoring the woodwork to its current splendor. Dan and Jan Sims purchased it in 2007 and have been developing the gardens. The house also showcases Dan's stained glass art and custom furniture.