Clement Studebaker, co-founder and first President of the Studebaker company, chose to build a home that reflected his financial success. Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was chosen to design the Romanesque style mansion in 1885.
Lavish New Home, 1889
The Studebaker’s new home, named Tippecanoe Place, was completed in 1889. The origin of its name remains disputed between two stories. The first involves its location, which it shares with the once favorite meeting ground of Miami Nation Indian Chief Tippecanoe. The second stems from Clement’s close relationship with President Benjamin Harrison, whose grandfather fought in a war with the Miami and was called “Hero of Tippecanoe.”
The cost to build the home totaled $250,000 with an additional $100,000 spent on furnishings. These represent an investment of $7 million and $2.8 million today. The mansion featured over 24,000 square feet of living space divided amongst 4 floors and 40 rooms. One of the first domestic elevators in Indiana helped connect the living spaces, which also featured 20 uniquely designed fireplaces.
Keeping with the Romanesque decor indoors, the exterior of the home featured St. Joseph County granite, chosen by Clement himself. Because the granite covered the home, the Studebakers thought it fireproof. However, a fire eight months after construction ended disproved their theory. Not allowing this to detract from his vision, Clement spent another $100,000 to repair the damage.
A Home No More
Following Clement’s death in 1901, and Ann’s death in 1916, their son George Studebaker inherited the home. His family continued to live there until the company declared bankruptcy in 1933, becoming heavily indebted during the Great Depression.. The building was donated to the school system in 1941 by local businessman and politician E. M. Morris but was briefly used by the local Red Cross during WWII.
The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. In 1979, investors spent $2 million to equip the building as a restaurant that opened in 1980. Tippecanoe Place Restaurant remains open to this day.