George Rogge (far left) joins others in listening to music played on the back deck of the historic Boyd house in Merrillville, which Rogge bought 20 years ago and refurbished. Rogge lives in Miller. | Post-Tribune photo
Updated: August 6, 2013 6:10AM
The stately red brick Boyd House is known for accommodating early travelers on the historic Old Lincoln Highway back in the late 1800s, but to John Morris and Jean Halsted it was Aunt Lenore Boyd Calpha’s house, a fun place to visit during their youth.
“This was my second home. My cousins were my world,” Halsted said of the house located on what is now called 73rd Avenue, in-between Interstate 65 and Mississippi Street.
Halsted and Morris recently joined dozens of others in a dinner and tour of the house, now owned by Miller resident George Rogge, as part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Old Lincoln Highway.
Halsted, who still lives in Merrillville, and Morris, who now resides in Texas, said there were many changes both inside and outside the house they spent so much time in.
“When we were real young, there were a barn, horse barn, corn crib, pig sty, water trough and wood house,” Morris said.
He said his mother was born in the house and his Aunt Lenore lived there until she died in 1995.
Rogge purchased the home from the family and has done extensive remodeling work, keeping some of the charm of the old structure, including the plaster walls, original hardwood floors and doors. Some of the furniture and decorations reflect the era in which the house was built; others are of a more fun and modern nature.
The Polynesian-style master bath upstairs features a modern vessel sink and an old-fashioned water pump.
“I used to come here and park in the driveway. There was a gravel road and a lot of brush at the time. I said to myself, ‘I would like to have that house.’ When it went on sale, I jumped on it,” Rogge said.
Wearing bib overalls, he welcomed visitors to tour his home and enjoy a dinner and special Rogge Ranch Ale created for the occasion by 18th Street Brewery. People dined at tables set up in different rooms throughout the house, formerly bedrooms, a parlor, dining room and living room.
Outside, Rogge and visitors listened as musicians played tunes on the guitar and harmonica on the back deck while three members of the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association set their easels at various locations in the large yard to paint pictures of the house.
Virginia Kramer, of Farmer’s Retreat in Southeast Indiana, said they’ll probably put the paintings up for sale.
If Rogge’s new plans come to fruition, at least part of the grand old house on 73rd Avenue will be open to the public on a regular basis.
He said he has been in talks with town officials about moving Rogge Insurance, now located at 8585 Broadway in Merrillville, to the first floor of the house.