Sunday, December 4, 2011

#238: Tippecanoe Place

It’s a funny thing how easy it can be to ignore the history of a place.  I’m afraid we live too casually, letting our harried selves set up impenetrable routines. For three and a half years when I lived in South Bend, there was never a reason for me to drive by the corner of Washington and Taylor, and so I never did.  It wasn’t until I was hunting for the closest parking space to downtown without a two-hour parking limit, which I found on those very streets, that I first physically stumbled upon Tippecanoe Place. I had heard of a fancy brunch place in an old mansion where you took your parents when they came into town, but I had never taken the time to go the necessary couple of blocks out my way.

And it wasn’t until several months after that initial, ignorant brush with South Bend history that I finally made it to the aforementioned brunch with two of my closest friends. For those of you in the know (I’m sure all of you), Tippecanoe Place represents the pinnacle of South Bend industry. It was the official and palatial Studebaker residence from 1889 to 1933, designed by a famous Chicago architect, and named, ostensibly, in honor of the family’s friendship with President Benjamin Harrison. Since then, the house has been transformed into a renowned restaurant and event space.

Even on a dreary Sunday morning in May, the house looked impressive. Inside, preserved Victorian remnants surrounded heaping trays of brunch food.  To give you some indication, we finished the made-to-order omelettes and then went back for Belgian waffles. After brunch, with the wait staff’s permission, we were able to explore the unused upstairs portion of the house filled with dusty velvet curtains, shiny wooden banisters, and small bits and pieces of a South Bend dynasty.

Since that morning in May, two of us have moved away from the city. So now, whenever I think of Tippecanoe Place, I think of them, and it’s always somewhat bittersweet. You see it’s a funny thing how even once you learn about the history of a place, the people you’re with while you’re there matter more.

For more about the fascinating history of Tippecanoe Place, go here.

Location and Contact:
620 West Washington Street


  1. One of our South Bend treasures!

    I had several relatives who worked at Studebaker (who didn't?), including my Aunt June, who was one of the very last employees. She was there to do payroll even after the factory shut down, because they still supplied parts. I'm also a bit of a history buff, so I'd read quite a bit about the Studebaker brothers.

    Anyway, when it came time to choose a place for my husband and I to get married 10 years ago, Tippecanoe Place was an easy choice. It was a small wedding, and took place in "George and Ada's room." Also, a few years ago I planned a business dinner for a conference my husband was hosting in South Bend, and chose Tippe Place. The people I worked with planning the events couldn't have been nicer or more helpful, and everything went perfectly. Those from out of town were especially impressed with the beauty of the place.

    It's not only a great restaurant, it's a great place to hold events, whether business or family. It really is one of our city's gems!

  2. Beth, thank you for sharing your beautiful stories with us! The history and character of the place (and the great people there) really make it a SB treasure.

  3. Nicolas Studebaker here, this is amazing!