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Sunday, June 23, 2019 1:00 am

Our towns

Small town has plenty of history

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

About North Manchester

Population: 5,805 (2018 census estimate)

County: Wabash

Founded: 1834

• Renamed North Manchester in 1836 and was incorporated in 1874.

•Birthplace of Thomas R. Marshall, who was governor of Indiana from 1909 to 1913 and U.S. vice president under Woodrow Wilson from 1913 to 1921.

• Home to Manchester University, a small, private liberal arts college with an enrollment of about 1,600.

North Manchester is full of history.

Google this small town located in Wabash County and you will find an endless supply of historical stories, everything from when the Miami Indian Potawatomi tribe was the first residents, to how the North Manchester Woman's Club created the town's first library, which is now known as the North Manchester Public Library, and how the city was part of the Underground Railroad.

“We are definitely a historical town,” says Brooke Vanderpool, CEO of Main Street Alive. “We have a lot of beautiful homes that date back to the early 1800s.”

But among that history also has come change.

Vanderpool says the city has restored many businesses and homes and Main Street has gone through a renovation. The renovation, which started in 2017, has seen many storefronts redone, sidewalks upgraded and new lighting. In addition, the city has seen a growth in businesses, she says.

North Manchester is also considered a college town with Manchester University sitting in its backyard. 

Vanderpool says Main Street Alive, which is a collaboration of Manchester Main Street and North Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is not only focusing on Main Street, but all of North Manchester. The group has worked to provide events all year long, such as golf outings, the upcoming Fun Fest in July, Harvest Arts Fest in October, a holiday celebration in November and the light up the town gala in December.

Visitors can not only enjoy those events, but also many historical attractions. There is the Center for History; the home of Thomas R. Marshall, who was an Indiana governor and vice president under Woodrow Wilson; and the North Manchester covered bridge. The bridge was built in 1872 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the two remaining covered bridges that span the Eel River in Wabash County.

Vanderpool also cites residents' involvement in the community, including a number of seniors who live at the city's two large retirement communities.

“We also have an inclusive community,” she says. “All of us come together.”

trich@jg.net