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Once Upon A Panhandle

Bloomington has its share of panhandlers.  It also has a panhandle.  One of the definitions of a panhandle is a narrow projection of a larger territory.  Located north of Bloomington between the forks of Walnut and College, Bloomington’s 8-acre panhandle has been described as the gateway to the city.

In 1929, the Showers Brothers Furniture Company deeded the panhandle to the city for use as a park.  Two decades later there had been little change, and the Showers Bros. sued for return of the property.  It was discovered, however, that the city did not have clear title to the property.  Judge Q. Austin East, Nick Hrisomalis and others had purchased it a few years earlier in a tax sale after the city inadvertently failed to remove it from the tax lists.

Soon after the suit was initiated, Bloomington did what they should have done a long time ago.  They cleaned up the property and installed some picnic tables on the panhandle to create a little park-like ambiance.

During the next few years, East, Hrisomalis and the others graciously decided to drop their claim to the panhandle.  Showers Bros. also reconsidered their desire to reclaim the property.   Gradually the differences of opinion over who actually owned the property was ironed out.  On June 30, 1953, the Bloomington Daily Herald Telephone reported that Robert K. Dillon, Showers Bros. president, that the company had dismissed their suit with the hope that the city would continue to care for and improve the park property.

Today the panhandle is known as the Miller-Showers Park.  The Miller portion of the name is in recognition of Jacob and Loretta Miller who once owned and resided on the property.  To many, the park might seem a little unorthodox.  It’s a different concept for a different time.  Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.  What do you see?



King, Julie, “Gateway to Bloomington,” Meadowood Anthology 1905-1911, Barbara Restle, compiler (Bloomington IN:  Author House) 2012, p. 24.

Slavin Lauren, “Remembering the Building of Lake Fernandez, viewed online in October 2017 at

“Threat to City’s Panhandle Eased,” Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone September 30, 1953, p. 1.


Blog post by Randi Richardson

Comments (2)

  1. David Lemon


    Great story Randi. Unfortunately, to me, the park looks pretty much like a swamp. Not what I would consider a worthy entrance to Bloomington.

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