Just beyond the commercial traffic of Bluffton Road, in the heart of Waynedale, the Chief Richardville House sits in a small clearing. It is an unexpected piece of quiet elegance amidst the intrusive noise of modernity just feet from its front step. Its red brick exterior rises above the sloping hills and woods around it, standing as a stately witness to over 200 years of human history.
This hidden architectural gem has played host to many private and public events over the years, a tradition with roots in its earliest days when Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville, the builder and original owner of the home, would throw extravagant parties that were the envy of the area.
This distinguished landmark is still an ideal destination for special events.
“We’re so lucky one of the oldest homes in Indiana is located in Waynedale. Its history as the oldest Native American structure in the Midwest, as a treaty house, and as a national landmark make it a great place for people in the region to host their events in the midst of Richardville’s legacy,” said Steve Toor, the History Center’s Event coordinator.
Right now, the History Center uses the Chief Richardville House for its own special events, like the upcoming Buffalo Tro.
The Buffalo Tro is a fundraiser for the History Center’s Heritage Education fund, which makes it possible for school groups in Allen, DeKalb, Steuben, LaGrange and Noble counties to visit the downtown museum and the Chief Richardville House free of charge. Over the past five years, more than 200 school groups each year have visited the museum underwritten by the Heritage Education Fund.
This year’s Buffalo Tro will take place Friday, September 25, starting at 5:30pm. The $50 ticket price includes a buffalo steak dinner cooked in a traditional Native American style on hot coals. In addition to the dinner, there will be a silent auction, live music and a beer tasting.
The number of people using the Fort Wayne History Center as an event space is steadily increasing. During Toor’s time with the History Center, the number of event rentals has grown more than 300 percent including weddings, retirement parties, high school reunions, and other events.
“We want people to think of us not just as property in downtown Fort Wayne for weddings, parties and other events, but we want people to start recognizing the Chief Richardville House in Waynedale as a potential event site as well.”
Using the Chief Richardville House for museum events is only the beginning of its potential according to Toor.
“We have a lot of people who come to us and want to use the Shields Room at the History Center, and then tour the museum as part of their special event. The Chief Richardville House is just as special a place, maybe even more so.”
“I’ve heard from so many people in town that Steve is an excellent event coordinator,” says Dorina Pope. Pope and her husband, Jeremy, were married at the Chief Richardville in June, 2014. Just over a year later, Jeremy and Dorina both remember a well organized ceremony.
“The caterers, the photographers, the rental service, all the vendors had an easy time setting up and tearing down because of how accessible the space is along with how flexible the staff was.”
The Chief Richardville House has a circular drive, right off a main thoroughfare, and can easily accommodate caterers doing a buffet or a sit-down dinner.
“Our wedding was a simple wedding, but it was a very elegant wedding thanks to the historic setting and Waynedale’s friendly feel.”
Toor says the Richardville House is ideal for outside events of about 150-175 people. For more information about the Chief Richardville House or the Buffalo Tro, you may contact the History Center at (260) 426-2882. Tickets for the Buffalo Tro will go on sale beginning in September.
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