Memories with stories told Floyd Warren by Kenneth Henn, Ura Miller, Conrad (Cooney)
White, Lester (Speedy) Hayden, Vivian Hayden and Everett Mier.
In 1962, the Abe Mier house was for sale. My wife, Ivalou, and I went to inspect it as we
had outgrown our three bedroom home.
Upon entering through the beveled and leaded glass front doors, I was awed by the
massive foyer. There were double columns on either side supporting a huge arch. The
walls were covered with leatherette, which I was informed was purchased at Marshall
Field's of Chicago. An open stairway led the second floor past more leaded glass windows.
A small powder room was located beneath the stairway . The ceiling had exposed beams.
Everett later informed me that besides a settee and chair, a large ornate carved oak table
stood in the center of the room a little in front of the ceramic fireplace. On this table was a
sterling silver bowl for guests' calling cards. Mounted on this bowl was an eagle wich stood
about six inches high. He informed me that this was not an original piece but a copy made
in the 1600s or a bowl cast in the late 1400s.
I was surprised to notice that the parquet hardwood floors were nailed from the top and
not toenailed with the nails hidden. I have since seen similar work in homes in castles of
The main living quarters of the house consisted of three rooms and were located along
the north side of the house. The front room was the ladies' parlor. It was the custom in
the early 1900s, following dinner, that the men would remain at the table or bar area and
enjoy cigars and drinks while the ladies would retire to the parlor for coffee or tea. This
room was very ornate and colorful. Three large curved glass windows made up the outside
corner located next to the fireplace made of ceramic and marble which had wooden pillars
from the mantle to the ceiling and mirror in the center.
The walls in all three rooms, as well as on the second floor, were plastered and covered
with a canvas cloth, then papered or painted. The parlor was painted a mint green with
white and pink molding forming wall panels. The ceiling was ornate with relief plaster cast
flowers and scrolls painted white, pink, and mint green. Everett said that the original
furniture in this room was white. The woodwork was dark mahogany.
The center room was Abe Mier's study or library. It had built-in glass door book shelves
and the woodwork was stained walnut. Everett told me that his father had a roll-top desk
in this room. These first two rooms were about 14'x14' in size while the third room or
dining room was twice the size, being some 28' long. It was paneled up the wall about 6'
with oak panels and had flocked wallpaper above. The ceilings in all three rooms were 10'
height but the exposed beams in the ceiling and the vast dimensions belied the height.
There was a recessed cubicle across the room from the windows. Everett said this was
especially built for a large ornate sideboard which had been imported from the Black Forest
region of Germany. At the far end of the room was a built-in wine cupboard with leaded
glass doors and sides and leaded glass windows on either side. These were lighted inside
and out to show their beauty. The hardwood floors had an inlaid border with the design
being formed by different colored woods. Again Everett informed me that his mother had a
dining room talble in the center of the room which could be extended nearly the full length
of the room. In the floor, near the head of the table, were three buttons to be used by Mr.
and Mrs. Abe Mier and Durbin, Everett's brother, to call the serving maid. Durbin, who was
handicapped, lived with his parents until his mother's death in 1960 when he moved to the
Heritage Manor nursing home.
There were two stairways to the second floor. One open staircase from the foyer and a
narrow way from near the kitchen for the servants' use. The Miers had a couple who lived
in the home to assist with the chores.
On the second floor, there were five rooms and three baths. Four bedrooms were for the
family's use with another bedroom in the rear for the servants. A hall extended the full
length of the house from front to rear with a door in each bedroom. There were also doors
connecting each room with the next. The second and third rooms each had three doors.
Since there was one or two windows in each room, it left very little space to arrange the
furniture. There were no closets in any of the rooms.
The master bedroom extended across the entire front of the house with a bathroom at
one end and a fireplace at the other next to three curved glass windows. Vivian informed
me that there was originally a turret on this house above the curved windows similar to
the one on the Rose House, but Mrs. Mier did not like it and had it removed.
The back bedroom also had a half bath. I was told (I don't remember by whom) that this
was Mrs. Mier's room. From stories told, it seems that she was a little headstrong and it
may have been a marriage of convenience.
The main bathroom was located across the hall from the bedrooms. It has a white ceramic
tile on the floor and the walls up to about five feet. The fixtures had been removed before
we acquired the house. I learned that there was a large bathtub which stood on legs and
that it had been sold by Floyd Meroney. Much of the plumbing was made of lead pipe.
There was also a bath in the basement which was used by the servants.
The fifth bedroom was located in the southwest corner and was separated from the rest
of the upstairs by a lockable door. The back stairway entered a hall connecting it with the
servants' bedroom and also a stairway to the third floor.
There were several closets as well as a clothes chute off the hall. All of the doors had
Yale locks. Ura told me that Mrs. Mier carried a ring of keys. When linen was needed or
food from the icebox, she would unlock the door counting out the exact number of items
needed and immediately lock the door again. He told of a time when Mrs. Mier sent him to
the store to get six apples. They looked good so he bought one for himself and one for the
cook with his own money. Mrs. Mier caught Ura and the cook eating their apples and they
were almost fired until she unlocked the icebox and found her apples safe inside. He also
said it was her orders to tear all magazines apart, and discarded shoes were cut up
before putting them in the trash because Mrs. Mier had caught a bum taking a rather good
looking pair of shoes from the trash can. Ura was a handyman for the Miers and said Mrs.
Mier had a mean streak and was hard to work for but that Mr. Mier and Durbin were loved
by Jews and Gentiles alike.
The Miers owned one of the first automobiles in Ligonier. I have been told that it was an
electric car. About this I am not sure. The car was stored in a garage just east of the
Crystal Theater. When Mrs. Mier went for a visit, the chaffeur would bring the car to the
house, pick up Mrs. Mier, go one block and make a U-turn and park in front of the Rose
home. Mrs. Mier would then enter the house. The reverse operation was performed to
deliver Mrs. Mier home. A little odd!
When the Mier household was dispersed, much of the better furnishings were stored in
the Everett Mier home located at 300 West Union Street. Since I boarded two Golden
Retrievers I had an opportunity to visit this home with him and see many of these beautiful
pieces. Everett pointed out his mother's desk. It was white or ivory, Queen Anne style,
and trimmed in gold. He said that after his mother's death they found $100 bills taped to
the underside of the drawers and the writing surface. He said she had stashed cash in
other places as well. I might add that though we lived in the Mier house for some 15
years, we never found a secret cache.
Though Mrs. Mier had her idiosyncrasies, Mr. Mier and Durbin were well liked in the city. I
have been told that Abe Mier helped many people save their homes and farms. He was a
prominent businessman and banker in Ligonier for many years. I was told that Durbin gave
pennies to kids but I have also been told he was an avid reader and after reading them,
he used to sneak his magazines out of the house and give them to his many Gentile
Back to the house, It was heated by two furnaces, both coal. One heated the main part of
the house by forced hot air. It had a stoker and coal was carried driectly from the coal bin
by a sunken track. There was a rumor that there was a tunnel from the basement to the
Rose House or someplace. Though I searched in vain, no tunnel was ever found. What I
did find was the tunnel where the coal was from the coal bin to the furnace. This trench
was about eighteen inches deep and twelve inches wide with part of it being covered with
concrete forming a small tunnel. In talking to the old-timers, they doubted that Mrs. Mier
would have permitted a tunnel to the Rose House because her relationship with her sister-
in-law was strained at best. The second furnace was coal with a stoker and heat was by
hot water. This furnace heated the solarium or sun porch or greenhouse.
This brings up another story. Originally the house had a carriage porch on the south side.
Mrs. Mier wanted a greenhouse. As the story goes, one weekened while their neighbors
were out of town, the solarium, or streetcar as some people called it, was constructed.
Trouble ensued as the foundation was less than six inches from the property line and the
eaves extended into the neighbor's lawn. However, inside all was well. The structure was
built with lots of glass and four rows of two inch pipe around the outside walls to carry the
hot water for heat. It was very practical. Vivian and others told me that the Miers kept the
room full of flowers of all kinds and even had caged birds hanging from the ceiling to give
an outdoor effect. I was told that once a year everything was removed and the room was
thoroughly scrubbed by the servants.
Kenneth Henn, who was a chaffeur for some of the Jewish families, told this story. The
Mier boys and some of their friends highly enjoyed visiting the burlesque theaters and
speakeasies in Chicago. They made frequent trips by motor car. After a night of fun and
some bootleg moonshine, they liked to speed on the way home. They were stopped
several times by South Bend police so "just for the heck of it" they had the chaffeur open
the cutout and roar through the city at full speed and then try to outrun the cops who
gave chase. I asked if they were ever caught and he said they were caught one night and
had to spend the night in jail. They did not worry about paying fines. For those who don't
know, some cars of the early 1900s were made so the exhaust could be opened just
behind the manifold to bypass the muffler. This was the cutout and was to give the car
more power. It also gave an ear-shattering roar.
THIS STORY WAS WRITTEN BY FLOYD WARREN, D.V.M. AND PUBLISHED IN THE LIGONIER, INDIANA ADVANCE LEADER IN 2000.