History restored: Groups partnering to refurbish 160-year-old home in Carmel’s Coxhall Gardens
BY EDWARD REDD ON
The Williams Farmhouse in Coxhall Gardens has changed little since being constructed in 1865. Now, nearly 160 years later, several local organizations are partnering to restore the structure and preserve it for generations to come.
Coxhall Gardens, at 11677 Towne Rd. in Carmel, is owned by Hamilton County Parks & Recreation. The Friends of Hamilton County Parks foundation helped launch the restoration initiative by donating $375,000.
“This project aligns with the Friends of Hamilton County Parks foundation and our mission to encourage and grow parks and park amenities for the benefit of all of Hamilton County,” said April Williams, executive director of the foundation. “We believe preserving history is an important piece of the future growth of our parks.”
During the mid-1800s, John Williams owned and farmed the land that later became Coxhall Gardens. According to Christy Brockton, historical resource specialist for Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, the Williams family constructed their farmhouse on the land and owned it generationally until 1962, when the Cox family purchased the site. Jesse Cox donated the home to HCPR in 1999.
“He wanted to provide an oasis in a sea of homes,” Brockton said. “So instead of this house being knocked down for subdivisions, it’s now preserved here.”
Brockton said the Williams Farmhouse is the second-oldest Italianate home in Clay Township.
“(The family was) prosperous and able to afford a house like this and construct it,” Brockton said. “The room configurations are the same as it would have been when the family owned the house. It’s still associated with the actual land it was on and the original farm.”
HCPR is working with Ball State University and the Carmel Historic Preservation Commission to develop a plan to restore and preserve the home.
“The idea is to stabilize the house, which is in pretty great shape, but also preserve the character of the home,” Brockton said.
A timeline for the project has not been set.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Williams Farmhouse is a 30.5-foot-by-55-foot Italianate brick-styled home, a design characterized by exteriors typically made of brick or wood, thick overhanging gutters with prominent ornamental brackets and wide cornices. It is a two-story, single-family house with an unfinished attic, a partial basement and a garage.
Its kitchen was updated with 1960 appliances and cabinets. The kitchen still has its original flooring from the 1800s. Next to the kitchen is a dining room. In the kitchen is a staircase that leads to the second floor, containing three bedrooms that have most of their original configuration. The second floor also has a bathroom that was installed in the 20th century.
The exterior of the farmhouse is fleshed out with bracket cornices and decorative vents. Its foundation consists of load-bearing masonry walls. The windows of the home are the same as they were when the home was first built. They feature a projected limestone keystone and sill. The home’s five exterior doors have their original pattern and location.