In 1913, Gene Stratton-Porter moved from the cabin in Geneva, Indiana to the shores of Sylvan Lake near Rome City. She designed another cabin, similar to the Limberlost cabin, but larger. She only lived here for five years. She was becoming more famous — every day, people would wander about the grounds and look in the windows — and she wanted more privacy. She also wanted to produce movies based on some of her books, so she moved to California. Again, her husband Charles stayed behind but visited when he could.
We arrived shortly after 1:00 to find the visitor center locked and nobody around. A sign said tours were given on the hour, so we stuck around. We found a bench near the house on the shore of Sylvan Lake and relaxed.
When it got close to 2:00, we wandered back to the visitor center and met another couple and our guide. The tour gave us a lot of the same information we’d gotten in the morning. The house looked similar to the Limberlost cabin in many ways, which makes sense since Gene designed them both herself. She added a lot of clever designs that made living there more practical — a doorway from a bedroom closet into a bathroom so a person wouldn’t have to walk through four rooms to get to the facilities, an ice box with inside and outside doors so the ice man wouldn’t have to walk through the kitchen.
The stones in the fireplace supposedly form pictures — a butterfly in the center and a Revolutionary War soldier on the right.
Our guide, on the right
Gene’s dark room
When Gene moved to California, she lived in a house on Catalina Island (top) and then had the house in the lower photo built (which gives an indication of just how successful she’d become). But she never lived in that house. Just a week before she was planning on moving, her chauffeur pulled out in front of a street car, and Gene was killed.
Fairly recently, in the 1990s, I think, Gene and her daughter Jennette were re-interred in a grave along the path leading to the house. The statue, with part of the right arm missing, was donated after it was broken and replaced on another grave.
We liked this house better because of the setting, the size and the paneling (cherry), but Gene lived in the first one longer and it probably gives a better insight into her as a person. Either one is interesting. I probably wouldn’t recommend visiting both unless you’re a big fan.