in the vernacular
Winona Lake has a lot of concrete-block structures, extending even to mansions. The Beyer Mansion, built in 1907 and variously described as Queen Anne, Romanesque, and Italian Renaissance, was the “duplex” home of town founders J.E. and J.F. Beyer. Each brother had one half of the sprawling, symmetrical house with twin corner towers. The exterior has ten or more different types of decorative block manufactured by the Winona Building Materials Manufacturing Company. (Located across Kings Highway and northwest of today’s historic district, the firm clearly influenced the local taste in materials.) a Other late Victorian and early 20thcentury houses in town, from Queen Annes to American Foursquares, have block foundations or lower storeys. Ornamental concrete block was a popular material in the first quarter of the 20th century, particularly in the upper Midwest. Chicagobased Sears, Roebuck offered kit houses made with block as well as do-it-yourself kits for making blocks. a “There is a surprising lack of local curiosity or knowledge about this material,” reports Kelley Barnhart, a local who is also the business manager at Classic Rock Face Block in Fort Wayne. The Indiana company supplies blocks of different colors and characteristics for restoration and new construction.