By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
As one of the founders of the Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement, Inc., Charlene Daugherty was not only highly involved in the annual Christmas Tour of Homes, but was chairwoman for many years. Since her passing in August, fellow members could not bear to stage the much-anticipated event without her presence. Instead they included her own home, one that means a great deal to the people of Pendleton, on the tour.
“This will be the first time she hasn’t been there in one way or another since it started,” said George Daugherty, her son, from his home in San Francisco. As producer and conductor for the award-winning and world-touring “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” and music director and principal conductor of the Ballet San Jose, he is a well-known figure in the community. “I think including her home is their way of honoring her.”
Even George admitted that his mother’s residence is not the typical offering at such an event. Not completely restored or of the style people often expect, her home is exactly as she left it a few months ago — although decorated for the Christmas season by Susan Markle and Sandy Butler.
“One of my goals is to restore it to how it was,” continued George. “People tend to gravitate toward older homes, but this post-war era of architecture was interesting in its own right. Sadly a lot of them are torn down because they are not appreciated in the same way as Victorian or Federal homes. It is important to appreciate that era.”
Charlene and her husband, George, had the home built in 1949 while they rented a house next door. On the phone her son, George, laughed as he recalled that they once had the opportunity to buy their rented house and the lot they built on for $12,000 and refused.
Charlene and her husband married in 1946 and he died in 1984.
The architect, William McVaugh, studied at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin in Arizona. In designing this residence, he incorporated many of the innovative ideas he learned from the well-respected master while still tailoring to Charlene’s desires.
He also designed the administration building at Guide Lamp in Anderson.
“One of the unique features that my mother loved was the Roman bricks,” said George. “She always talked about them. They were from Italy and no one had ever done anything quite like that in Indiana.”
Also a favorite feature, and representative of Frank Lloyd Wright homes, is the vast number of built-in cabinets and bookshelves. Every nook and cranny in the house has been transformed into storage space, including a cabinet over the bedroom closet that utilizes attic space.
“They used every single bit of space with all the cubbies and cabinets,” said Susan Markle, fellow society member and close friend.
Probably the most unusual feature is a large picture window over the kitchen sink that was capable of lowering behind the sink by the push of a button, allowing the homeowner to install a screen and welcome nature inside the home.
One of the reasons the home is sentimental to the Pendleton community has nothing to do with architecture. Charlene operated a kindergarten from her garage for 46 years.
“Thousands and thousands of kids went to kindergarten in her garage,” said George. “She taught three classes a day.”
“Practically everyone in Pendleton went to kindergarten here,” agreed Markle.
While friends wanted to allow the public to revisit this special area of the home, they were unable to prepare it in time for the tour.
Charlene also impacted the community through many good works. She was a Sagamore of the Wabash, received the Indiana Jefferson Award by the Indianapolis Star, was a Pendleton Lions Club Citizen of the Year for Community Service and even had a day named in her honor (April 27, 1996) in Anderson by Mayor Mark Lawler. “She always promoted Pendleton no matter what she was doing,” said long-time friend Judy Renbarger.
If you go
The Spirit of Christmas Tour of Homes in Pendleton will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. Day of event tickets are $14 and $3 for students K-12. Tour sites are 312 E. State St.; 210 W. State St.; 530 S. Pendleton Ave.; 421 E. State St., 118 N. Pendleton Ave. and Falls Park Historical Museum at Falls Park.