Lafayette Vignettes, Part 3: Drifting Around Downtown

Washington pediment!

A limestone pediment featuring George Rogers Clark, George Washington, and Tecumseh, three people who have never been in our kitchen.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

One of our favorite simple pleasures of any visit to a new town is the stroll around their downtown, Main Street, town square, or whatever they call the heart of community commerce, whether it’s a presently vibrant neighborhood or a nostalgic patchwork of quaint artisans and hollowed foreclosures. Located at a remove from the Purdue campus on the other side of the Wabash River (which factored into a Jeopardy! clue the other night), downtown Lafayette showed signs that everyday life persists, just…maybe with a quieter ambiance on Homecoming weekend.


Merlin's Beard!

The sort of business you’d expect in any real college town.

bookshop sandwich board!

The sort of book lovers I’d demand in a college town, or else flee.

business sandwich boards

Okay, fine, not every business has to be about me.

Marquee de Lafayette!

The Marquee de Lafayette presents Pauly Shore!

scooters everywhere!

Sample sculpture. Scooters everywhere.

statue with qualities!

Reaching upward, marked with the best qualities.

steampunk family!

They’re intricate and brassy / Harsh metalwork but sassy / They’re altogether classy / The steampunk family!

Aside from the art and shops, the most eye-catching edifice was the Tippecanoe County Courthouse, a 2½-story limestone-and-brick building that dates back to 1884, with architecture from multiple movements and artistic flourishes all over. Anne wanted to see the George Washington statue leaning from one pediment (hence our lead photo), because we more or less collect those now in our travels, but other details jumped out at us as well.

Tippecanoe County Courthouse!

The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is covered in 100 columns. It might be a fun puzzle to try and spot them all, but we didn’t photograph every side.

Tippecanoe clock!

It has four clocks up high, this one on the opposite side from our initial approach.

seasonal goddess!

Each clock has a different goddess statue below it, representing one of the four seasons.

seasonal goddess II!

Sadly, I couldn’t discern which seasonal goddess is which. This one probably isn’t Rabbit Season.

Tippecanoe Bicentennial Bison!

One of the Tippecanoe County Bicentennial Bison stands guard, remembering that time the state of Indiana turned 200 years old.

Constitution Oak!

The Constitution Oak, planted September 17, 1987, to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

John Purdue fountain!

A fountain honoring John Purdue (of that Purdue), which probably looks cooler when it isn’t October and they’re allowed to turn on the water.

Liberty or Justice!

This statue atop the Courthouse was once Liberty armed with a sword and shield, but the shield was replaced with scales. So now she’s Liberty and Justice for All, I suppose.

Statues Peering!

On the opposite side of the Courthouse from the Washington pediment, peering down upon us from a second pediment are Justice,, Industry/Education, and Agriculture. The architects did love their goddesses.

To be continued! Other chapters in this MCC miniseries:

Part 1: The Astronaut Alumnus
Part 2: The Works on the Walls
Part 4: The Legacy of Tippecanoe
Part 5: Prophets and Poultry
Part 6: The Birthday Menu

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