Initially built as a horse stable, the Livery Barn at the Jackson County History Center, has been used for a variety of purposes for more than a hundred years. In this stop, you'll learn a bit about the uses of the Barn throughout its history.

The Original Livery Barn
By the 1860s, visitors traveled to Brownstown, Jackson’s county seat, to conduct business. Many arrived via train which was an important method of travel into Brownstown. The train made its final stop in Ewing and people were brought the final mile into town by a horse-drawn trolley. Other visitors completed the whole journey by horse. The corner diagonally northeast of the Jackson County Courthouse had a livery barn before 1876 to care for the many horses that brought people into Brownstown.

Ownership of the livery barn changed hands several times in the late nineteenth century until Andrew F. and Charles F. Robertson bought it in 1895 for $1,975. Fire destroyed the Robertson & Robertson Livery Barn in 1899. The Robertsons, probably cousins, rebuilt within months. The new building was 70x80 feet, almost twice as large as the old one, The Brownstown Banner reported. The size suggests that demand for the livery’s services were high. The property changed ownership within the family several times and by 1904, Charles F. Robertson was the sole owner.

From Horse Stable to Automobile Sales and Repair Shop
Although people would continue to travel to Brownstown by horse as well, the arrival of the automobile in the early 20th century meant that people who drove cars to town needed access to repair services there. Robertson announced in 1912 that a 38 x 80 garage would be built between the stable and Thomas Barnum's blacksmithing and wagon-making shop on the alley north of the stable. As the Jackson County Banner observed in 1912, “With the number of automobiles owned in this vicinity and so many passing through here, the need for an up-to-date garage has been felt for some time." In early 1913, the opening of the Hackendorf and Robertson Garage was announced with Ford automobiles available for sale. The name of "Richards" was added to the garage in 1914 as an "elegant new Overland" was offered for sale. The Overland was a car produced in the early twentieth century in Indianapolis. The garage also offered "skilled mechanics." The building was used at this time for other purposes as well. Elmer N. Kestner offered his veterinarian services from the livery stable. The night policeman, William Shutts, made the barn his headquarters. An ad at the close of 1914 advertised "Automobile Repairing and Plumbing" services from the garage. The garage business was sold around 1916 and the business moved to Main Street.

From County Fair to Basketball Arena
With the garage moved to Main Street, by 1919 the livery was being used for cattle, horse, and mule exhibitions for the county fair. Calves were distributed from there late in 1919 for the Boys and Girls Calf Club. Baby chicks were sold on the corner in 1939. An announcement was made by Charles and Claude Robertson in the fall of 1921 that the garage building would be remodeled into "the best basketball floor" in the county. This would solve the need for a "basketball hall" that also could host district tournaments. There would be a 35 x 70 area for bleachers to seat a thousand as well as a playing floor. The roof was to be raised higher above the 12 foot high walls to accommodate basketball games. What is unknown today is whether basketball games were ever actually played here--hopefully one day we will be able to answer this question!



105 N Sugar St Brownstown, Indiana 47220