#4 Jacob Wile House
1411 Indiana Avenue
Built c. 1861
Written by Mary Ellen Scupham
The house at 1411 Indiana Avenue was built
in the Italianate style in or around 1861-1862 by
Jacob Wile. The avenue was then known as West
Main Street, and the home was in the Village of
Independence, an addition to the town of La Porte.
Jacob Wile had immigrated to the United
States from Bavaria in 1848, aged 19. He was one
of the founders of the La Porte (Fox) Woolen Mills
and established the Citizen’s Bank in 1857. As president and reader for the La Porte congregation B’ne Zion, the La Porte Hebrew congregation, he acted as Rabbi from 1868 to 1886. Indiana came to know him as the “Banker Rabbi.”
Wile married Henrietta Guggenheim (the Guggenheim home located one house to the north). They had ten children — so the house had to be much larger than it is now. Elected Justice of the Peace, he had the right to perform marriage ceremonies. He officiated at the weddings of his children.
After Wile’s death in 1896, the house was sold in rapid succession to, and was used as a sanitarium by, J.L. Gray, Dr. Jesse Payne, Dr. David Reeder’s Home Health Club and J.J. Lipp’s Bark Bath Sanitarium. Various newspaper articles and advertisements tell of the treatments that were given to patients, and undergone by patients — very different from the care given today!
In 1909, the home was purchased by Charles Sheldon and wife Mary, and was completely remodeled by his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Shadosky. The Shadoskys had no children, but Mrs. Shadosky (Gertrude) had a brother James (Jimmy) who was a football coach at Indiana University in 1909. Mrs. Shadosky made 1411 her home for 63 years, spending the last years of her life at Countryside Place. She lived to be 107 years old and was “sharp” until her death.
Dr. William (Bill) Scupham considered leaving his thriving medical practice in Chicago because of the long commute back and forth to his suburban home. In addition, these were the days of house calls which made a very long day. He was encouraged by several La Porte physicians who had called on him as consultants of his patients or were his patients. And, the new La Porte hospital was opening in December, 1972. Another great incentive was the city of La Porte itself, the lakes, the tree-lined streets, the friendly people and the lovely historic homes.
Dr. and Mrs. Scupham bought 1411 Indiana Avenue from Mrs. Shadosky in 1972. They worked on its restoration with the aid of photographs and newspaper clippings from the museum under the educated eye of architect George Turp. Finding it impossible, both physically and financially, to put the house back to its Italianate beginning, they compromised with an “interpretive restoration” as defined by the Indiana Historical Society.
Read about many other historic homes in La Porte, in Preserve Historic La Porte’s book Historic Architecture of La Porte Indiana: The First 20 Years of the Candlelight Tour, available through Preserve Historic La Porte or the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.