~The History of Burke Place ~
Martin Boots, a resident of nearby Delaware County, purchased property in Grant County from the U.S. government in 1820. The property was surveyed and the deed recorded in 1823. The property remained in the Boots’ familyfor many years. In 1875 the property was sold to George White of nearby Delaware County. White subdivided the property into smaller lots for resale purposes. The current 722 West 4th Street property became known as lots 64 & 65 of White’s Fifth Addition in Marion, Indiana. The land remained primarily farm ground until around 1892 when lots 64 & 65 were sold to
Benjamin and Hattie Burke at a price of $3,500. Tax records show that a house was built on the lots around the turn-of
the century. The Burke family began construction in 1898 and completed the house in 1900. In 1919 the house and property was sold to Charles and Maude Burke Williams at a price of $7,500. During the Williams’ ownership of the property, the black wrought iron fence was installed and the east side porch was added, a small swimming pool was constructed near the carriage house, and he interior stairway from first to second floors was reversed. The stairway wall was opened to create a more formal looking staircase and the landings and hand railings were added.
Professional drawings still exist of the original construction, the proposed additions, and other remodeling changes. Charles Burke died in the early 1840’s and his wife Maude passed in 1946. The property and house was willed to their grandson John Benjamin “Bennie” Williams. In 1947 the property was sold to John and Louise Thompson for a price of $18,500. The Thompsons had the yard professionally landscaped. Color drawings of the landscape project still exist and have helped in identifying many of the plants and trees on the property. John Thompson was in the insurance business and very conscious of
hazards. Because the property was across the street, Horace Mann Court, (a short, one block street) from the Martin
Boots Junior High and the Horace Mann Elementary schools, John had his sons knock down the pool walls and fill the swimming pool with dirt. The cistern was also filled with concrete and stone and the cover was sealed. Both
items were considered “attractive nuisances.” John was very concerned that a child might wander into the yard from one
of the nearby schools in search of a lost ball; and the child might fall into the pool or cistern and drown.
The Thompsons had considerable construction on the house completed around 1957. The garage and driveway were added, the kitchen was enlarged and remodeled, a large walk-in closet on second floor was enlarged to create the northwest bedroom,
and aluminum siding was installed on the exterior. A fire and security system was installed along with a whole-house intercom and high-fidelity system. The Thompsons were supposedly the first family in Marion to have a whole-house high-fidelity music and intercom system wired throughout their home.
John Thompson died in 1990 and Louise Thompson left the property in 1991. The house was sold to Pat and Patty Thorne in
1991. The Thorne’s did considerable interior decorating. The Thorne’s left the property early in 1993. The house sat vacant and the weeds and thistles took over the unmowed lawn. John Lightle and LeRoy Imler were allowed to place an “offer to purchase” in April of 1994. In September of 1994 the property was sold at a Sherriff’s auction. The property was purchased by the First National Bank of Kokomo and John and LeRoy’s offer was accepted by the bank in October of 1994.
Then came the concern of locating a contractor to take on John and LeRoy’s remodeling and decorating projects prior to moving into the house. LeRoy painted all the ceilings and stripped wallpaper in several rooms while Terry Speicher, the contractor, took care of the construction needed in dividing the second floor front center bedroom and installing two bathrooms with each bathroom connecting to an adjoining bedroom. The wallpaper installer, D. J. Feine, repaired areas where wallpaper deterioration had occurred during the home’s vacant period, the laundry room was created on second floor, a bathroom was added to the back northwest bedroom, a heat-pump with air conditioning and auxiliary heat was installed for the second floor, the fire and security system was updated and activated, new carpeting was installed throughout the entire
house, and many other decorating and restoration projects were completed.
On the outside, the small fish pond was re-established, weeds pulled, flower beds cleaned and restored, and the yard was brought back to a semblance of beauty. In 1996 a wooden deck, steps, and handrails were added; repairs were made to the iron fence and gates; work was done to enhance the Concord grape arbor; flower beds were revitalized; shrubs, trees, and bushes were pruned; and quite a bit of the Thompson’s landscaping was re-established.
In 1998, John and LeRoy decided to pursue their idea of opening a bed and breakfast. After much studying and careful planning, the contractor began work on the northeast addition. LeRoy’s bedroom and bath, as well as John’s bedroom and bath, were useable as they were. The original upstairs bathroom was divided; one-half laundry room and the other half became the bathroom for the third upstairs bathroom. The new addition created the fourth bedroom and bath for the second floor. On first floor, under the newly constructed fourth bedroom upstairs, John and LeRoy’s new bedroom and bathrooms were created. After much remodeling and decorating, Burke Place Bed and Breakfast opened its doors in late September of 1999 for the James Dean Festival.
Since that time, Baxter joined the Burke Place staff in early September of 2008. Baxter is our White West-Highland Terrier. An irrigation system has been added to keep the newly re-seeded lawn watered. A portico porch was added along the east side of the garage to protect us from the rain and snow while standing outside with Baxter, the east side-porch was re-roofed and
enclosed and the east covered “Veranda” porch was built to provide guests with an out-of-doors area for relaxation. The
lawn glider was added “under the Old Oak Tree” for our guests’ comfort and relaxation. The entire wrought ironfence was electroplated (painted) the summer of 2012.
As you can see, there is always something happening at Burke Place. There are always projects that need tended to; replacing windows; maintaining flowerbeds and the fish pond; and interior projects like painting, wall papering, and other decorating projects. Burke Place Bed and Breakfast is an on going project.