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High School Closing Blow to Stinesville

“Looking Back” by Rose McIlveen Aug 10 1986

Stinesville High School, circa 1914-1915. From the MCHC Permanent Collection 1600.017.0008

The heart of any community the size of Stinesville was traditionally found in its high school. It was the social center of the town, and residents rallied around the basketball team – called the Quarry Lads – through good seasons and bad.

In 1963 the schools in Richland and Bean Blossom townships joined to create the Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation as part of a statewide consolidation move that also let to the creation of the Monroe County Community School Corporation for the rest of the county. The decision was made to have one high school in the new Richland-Bean Blossom district and it was to be located in Ellettsville. Stinesville High School was closed.

Another factor in addition to limestone companies moving away and the high school closing contributed to the economic decline of Stinesville. Bob Judah, a former resident of the community, recalls that with the coming of the automobile, people became a lot more mobile. Previously a shopping trip to Bloomington was an all-day-affair in the family buggy or wagon. The automobile changed the shopping habits of Stinesville residents. In 1955, when the town celebrated its 100th birthday, the Ellettsville Journal published a special edition filled with stories of its sister community but only three advertisements in the section were from Stinesville businesses…N.P. Van Buskirk’s grocery, the Stinesville Grocery, and Churn Taylor’s barber shop.

The centennial celebration, in addition to generating the usual fanfare of parade, pageant and the inevitable queen contest, also created a feeling of pride in what Stinesvillians had accomplished during their first 100 years and an optimism about its future. It was also a homecoming for former residents who owed their “getting on in the world” to the solid my-word-is-my-bond upbringing of another time in history.

Among the dignitaries who attended the centennial were former Governor Henry Schricker and Indianapolis Postmaster Amza Walter Smith, the latter a native Stinesvillian.

One of the little known niches for Stinesville in the annals of time is that it, not Bedford, was responsible for the start of limestone quarrying in Indiana.

According to the Histories of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana published in 1917, a General Love opened the first quarry in 1850 near Stinesville. The same county history says: “It was not until 1877, when the Dark Hollow Quarry Company was organized (in Lawrence County) that his (Davis Harrison) efforts met with degree of success, although he was interested in several enterprises before that date.” Harrison, a civil engineer, had had considerable difficulty in finding investors.

During the 1920s and 30s the campaign to sell the public on the idea of “Bedford” stone paid off. Even the public was somewhat confused by the name “Oolitic,” which was a geological term long before that community existed.

It is ironic that there is nothing in the way of a monument or historic marker in Stinvesville to indicate that it is the home of the Indiana limestone history. If there was such a marker, it is not likely that in its present state, Stinesville would be visited by many tourists.

 

Since this article’s publication in 1986 some of Stinesville’s buildings have been included in the Stinesville Commercial Historic District and have been put on the National Register of Historic Places. Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit state landmark organization, is in the process of getting the entire 41-acre town designated as a historic district. A row of commercial buildings recently went on sale for $1 on the Indiana Landmarks website as well with the caveat that they then be fully rehabilitated. More information can be found here: https://www.indianalandmarks.org/for-sale/stinesville-commercial-buildings/

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