2020 Road Trip Photos #3: Hur-Story of the World Part II

Ben-Hur costume!

One of Charlton Heston’s actual, Oscar-winning Judah Ben-Hur costumes designed by Elizabeth Haffenden. You may know her works from such films such as Fiddler on the Roof and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Then came 2020 A.D.

Even in an ordinary average year, sometimes you really need to get away from it all. In a year like this, escape is more important than ever if you can find yourself one — no matter how short it lasts, no matter how limited your boundaries are. Anne and I had two choices: either skip our tradition for 2020 and resign ourselves to a week-long staycation that looks and feels exactly like our typical weekend quarantines; or see how much we could accomplish within my prescribed limitations. We decided to expand on that and check out points of interest in multiple Indiana towns in assorted directions. We’d visited many towns over the years, but not all of them yet.

In addition to our usual personal rules, we had two simple additions in light of All This: don’t get killed, and don’t get others killed…

The star attraction of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is, well, the study. Wallace was the bestselling author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. At various times he was a lawyer, a Union Army general, an inventor, an artist, a governor, and a diplomat, He also had one heck of a man-cave.

Lew Wallace Study!

Wallace’s study. Not his entire house. Just the study,

The study was completed in 1898, with flourishes of Carnegie steel and Bedford limestone among its components. A moat once surrounded two sides, but Wallace had it filled in before his death in 1905. The city of Crawfordsville later acquired the property, and the Study was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Most of Wallace’s original house is gone, but his separate study and carriage house remain intact for historical and tourism purposes, and nicely show off the works and collections of a Hoosier Renaissance man.

Books & Paintings!

A sample wall of vintage books and art.

vintage library!

These books were from Wallace’s personal library, not merely copies from the same era they found at antique shops.


The study’s skylight with a stained-glass center.


The room’s centerpieces are the desk and chair where he wrote Ben-Hur.


A study classy enough to have its own fireplace.

mantelpiece keepsakes!

Some of his mantelpiece keepsakes.

Wallace art!

Art also lines the tops of all his bookshelves, which remains the standard today for proud bookshelf ownership.


This wasn’t an acquisition: Wallace was a sculptor in his own right.

The Conspirators!

Wallace also painted. The Conspirators captures the likenesses and souls of the Lincoln assassination collaborators, whom Wallace helped investigate.

The Turkish Princess!

The Turkish Princess came not from Wallace’s own hand, but as a gift from the Sultan of Turkey.

Lew Wallace bust!

A bust of Wallace himself.

basement carriage!

The basement is off-limits to visitors, but they’re allowed to peer through the windows and see what’s stored down there, such as the Wallace family carriage.

Heston's sword!

Fans of the 1959 version of Ben-Hur will appreciate related mementos, such as Heston’s sword and scabbard from the set. The same vitrine contains photographic proof Heston visited the Study in person before his passing in 2008.

Ben-Hur the Album!

Even in 1959, movie tie-in merchandise was very much a thing. Prime example: Ben-Hur the Album!

Ben-Hur the Spices!

Ben-Hur: the official spices! Your move, Star Wars.

Anyone out there who prefers Timur Bekmambetov’s 2016 adaptation to William Wyler’s winner of eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture will be disappointed by the paucity of Timur-related exhibits. I watched that latest, CGI-happy, woodenly frenetic version the other day, and…well, I don’t blame them for snubbing it. On the other hand, it’d be awesome if they could someday convince Toby Kebbell to come out for an autograph signing.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my faint signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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