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City Council Designates Thomas Smith House A Local Historic Site

Thomas Smith House- front view

The Thomas Smith House was built in 1828, on what used to be a 160-acre farm. It is one of the earliest examples of the I-House form in Bloomington. (Courtesy: City of Bloomington)

The Bloomington City Council voted Wednesday to designate the Thomas Smith House, 1326 S. Pickwick Place, a local historic site. The house was one of two Underground Railroad stops in town.  

Council president Jim Sims said most historic preservation projects deal with a building’s architecture, whereas this one offers social history.  

“One of the things that’s important in historic preservation is the historic social value,” Sims said. “In this particular case, how this house, as it was reported in research, was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad.” 

Thomas Smith House- side view
The two story brick home is one of the last original Covenanter brick farmhouses in Bloomington. The property owners built a detatched garage in 2003, but it considered a "non-contributing" resource to the property. 

Thomas Smith was a local philanthropist and elder of the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) congregation. The small group of Scotch and Irish people relocated to Bloomington from South Carolina because of their opposition to slavery.  

Smith bought the 160-acre property in 1827 and built the home in 1828. It is one of the few Covenanter brick farmhouses still standing from Bloomington’s settlement. Currently, the property is 1.8 acres and surrounded by neighborhoods on all sides. 

Smith also donated land at the corner of Moores Pike and South High Street to establish a Covenanter church and cemetery. The cemetery still exists.  

Covenanter Cemetery
Thomas Smith donated the land at the corner of Moores Pike and South High Street to the Covenanter church. Additionally, he donated $500 to the state in order to keep the Indiana State Seminary, renamed Indiana University, in Bloomington.

 

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