Book highlights history of Candlelight Tour

La PORTE — People Engaged in Preservation, La Porte’s not-for-profit historic preservation organization, has announced the release of the book Historic Architecture of La Porte Indiana: The First 20 Years of the Candlelight Tour.

The publication will be released to the public, and available for sale, at an event from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum, 2405 Indiana Ave. Light refreshments will be served. There is no charge to attend.

The book, at a cost of $30, is a 400-plus-page professional quality softcover including the 106 histories of every historic home, church, and commercial building that has ever been on PEP’s Christmas Candlelight Tour of Historic Homes.

PEP originally started the tour as a fundraiser in 1996, with the event becoming a regional tourist draw. The most recent tour was held in 2016.

“We are thrilled to be able to announce the release of our book, which is the culmination of well over a year’s worth of hard work and effort on the part of our membership, overseen by our editor, Michele Sirugo Barber, as well as a committee consisting of PEP members Elzbieta Bilderback, Robert Boklund, Don Bowman, Christa Lazarz, Bethany Mieczkowski, Dottie Rosenbaum, Michael Rosenbaum, Tom Rosenbaum, Pam Ruminski, Timothy Stabosz, Peter Steele, and Lizz Ward,” PEP President Dottie Rosenbaum said. “Additional invaluable research and support were provided by County Historian Fern Eddy Schultz.”

The book was primarily funded by a $10,000 grant that PEP was awarded by the Indiana Historical Society, along with required local matching funds raised by PEP, including a tourism grant obtained through the City of La Porte Mayor’s Office.

In addition to being a comprehensive research work of the histories of all of structures on the first 20 years of the Candlelight Tour, the book Includes the original pen and ink renderings of all 106 structures by local artist and charter PEP member Don Bowman.

“It should be noted that in the earlier years of the Candlelight Tour our tour booklets included fairly short house histories,” Rosenbaum said. “Consequently, our members took the time to re-research a large number of these histories, in order to provide a more detailed account that is similar to what tour-goers have come to expect in our more recent tour booklets.

“We believe that this book will stand the test of time, and provide an outstanding reference work to lovers of La Porte’s history, its prominent historic homes, the families that built and lived in them and the businesses that sustained them. In addition, the book will serve as a field guide for tourist and researcher alike, making it not just a useful reference work and coffee table book, but a treasured keepsake as well.”

PEP has donated copies of the book to numerous regional libraries, schools, museums and repositories, in order to make the information as widely available as possible.

The Saturday event is intended as a celebration of the book’s long-anticipated release, as well as the public’s first chance to purchase the book in person, and an opportunity for the public to discuss with PEP members the process involved in publishing the book.

PEP printed only 500 books, and encourages those interested in purchasing to act as soon as practicable, so as not to be disappointed.

The following La Porte area outlets will offer the book for sale for $30 starting Monday, during regular business hours: Coachman Antique Mall, CO-OP Shoppes, Judee’s, La Porte County Historical Society Museum, Plain & Fancy Antiques, Temple News Agency, Town & Country Florist and Up Towne Shoppes. In Michigan City, the book will be available at The Antique Market and the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For those living outside La Porte County, mail orders can be placed by sending a check or money order for $40 (includes $10 for shipping and handling), payable to People Engaged in Preservation, P.O. Box 853, La Porte, IN 46352.

“We view the publication of this book as a gift from PEP to the citizens of La Porte, and believe it is a tremendous legacy that can be added to, in years to come, as additional Candlelight Tour houses are added, providing something that La Porte has needed for a long time: a ‘one stop shop’ where people can find information about almost any historic home in La Porte,” Rosenbaum said.