SHIRLEY (Feb. 20, 2015) - It’s time for “Your Town Friday” and this morning we are heading to Shirley!
You will find the Hancock County community about 38 miles east of downtown Indy. The town is home to just about 800 people…and although it’s small, it’s rich in history. This year Shirley is celebrating their 125th anniversary!
Shirley dates back to 1890 and the train depot has been there from the very beginning.
“The railroad is the reason Shirley is here. When they first built the railroad there was a railroad car sat here for a year and then this building replaced it and it’s been here ever since,” said Jerry Duke, president of the Shirley Historical Society.
Back then it was one of the few places where a train going east-west could turn north-south. Fitting, as Indiana is known as the “Crossroads of America.” Today the depot is home to the Shirley Historical Society.
“If they come to the depot they can see things from the beginning of Shirley up to this date. We have family pictures, stuff from the original doctor, we restored this house out front, and we have lots of railroad memorabilia. I think you can see the growth of America as Shirley grew. It’s a very nice town, a very booming town and it’s managed to survive all these years,” said Duke.
Something else that’s survived all these years: the Jane Ross Reeves Octagon House.
“We think this is 1 of 5 old octagon houses left in the whole state of Indiana. They built about 2,000 across the country from 1850 to 1870, so ours was a late comer in that time,” said Darrell Deck of the Jane Ross Reeves Octagon House Foundation.
Jane Ross Reeves had it built back in 1879.
“When it was finished and she first stepped into it, it was paid for. She had been saving silver dollars in a shoe box and she had enough to pay for it,” said Darrell.
The cost back then? About $2,300-$2,500. The 16-room, two-story house is made from a wooden frame and a pyramidal roof. And get this--every room has a closet!
Throughout much of the 20st century the house sat in disrepair. In fact, the fire department had plans to burn it down until 1994 when Darrell Deck stepped in to save it, moving the home from Wilkinson to Shirley.
“We had to go through fields where there weren’t any open ditches or creeks. It took nine miles to get it here,” said Darrell.
“When we brought it here we got cussed out by a lot of people for bringing a piece of junk like that to town but it’s been here and people have changed their minds. It’s considered a part of Shirley.”
This little town definitely has a very charming, family-friendly feel.
For many years Carousel Flower Shop has been helping the people of Shirley with all of their floral needs. Janice Burton bought the shop five years ago and decided to expand the business a little bit.
“If they need me they don’t have to go to big city, they don’t have to go to Walmart, and they can come here and pick something out. I don’t just offer flowers, I offer candy, any of our products from Jessup candy line, lamps, any kind of gifts for an anniversary, birthday, we deliver to hospitals, anything we can do to help the community,” said Burton.
The only other places you can find Jessup candy products are at the state or county fair. So if you’re looking for their famous butterscotch or saltwater taffy, you’ll have to go visit Janice in Shirley!
Also in the sweets business, but a newcomer to town, Rinehart Creations.
“We do anything from easy dinner rolls at Thanksgiving time to wedding cakes and anything in between,” said owner Robin Rinehart, who went to Ivy Tech to become a pastry chef and bought a booth at the annual Shirley Strawberry Festival.
“Last year we did deep fried pie which was a real big hit,” said Robin.
When that was a big success, she decided to launch her own business using fresh local products.
“Mostly a lot of cakes, birthday cakes, we do cupcake trees, cookies big time, chocolate covered strawberries, those are big during Valentine’s Day,” said Robin.
And, Robin delivers!