Lucius L. Ball House

 

 

The building in which the club held its meeting in September originally was a wooden farm house that faced Wheeling Pike, now Wheeling Avenue.Purchased by the one brother of the family who was not a Ball Brothers Company officer, the house was rotated on its foundation in 1910 so that it would face Minnetrista Boulevard like the homes of the other brothers to the East.Many changes were made, including the addition of wings and being faced with yellow brick.

It was occupied by Lucius, his wife Sarah Rogers and their only child, Helen.Lucius, the oldest, had gone to medical school after his younger brothers were established in a productive business.Lucius practiced medicine in Muncie and was the medical officer for Ball Brothers.While never a Ball employee, he still was a stockholder in the company, and was involved in the decision-making process.

Of course, the hot summers were not spent in the house in Muncie that lacked air conditioning.Lucius and Sarah had discovered the village of Leland, Michigan in 1903.Located on a peninsula in the western part of the state between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, this fishing village became a summer vacation spot for the family.Three of the brothers, and later some of their children, built summer cottages in this remote area.†† The mothers, children and staff would spend June through September at Leland, while the men would spend weekdays in Muncie to run their business and commute to Leland on the weekends.Ball family descendants continue to vacation there to this day.

Helen married and left home in 1924, and Lucius died in 1932.Sarah was alone in the house, but had family all around.†† In the 1940ís, her health started to deteriorate, and she spent more and more time at home.She died in 1952 at the age of 94 years.

The history of the house after her death is unclear, but it appears to have been rented out to families until the early 1970ís, when it was leased to Ball State University, who located the WIPB television studios there.

The IPB in WIPB stands for Indiana Public Broadcasting and the station was one of the first in the public broadcasting system.One of WIPBís most famous productions was the Bob Ross Joy of Painting series.Nationally popular, this series ran for over 20 years with hundred of episodes being taped in the WIPB studios in Muncie.Ross lived in Florida, but would come to Muncie to have the show produced.Reruns of the show are still being broadcast by WIPB.

The room in which the club held its meeting was the same room used as the taping studio.Heavy curtains were hung over the walls and windows to keep light and sound out as the cameras videotaped Ross painting at his easel.This continued until 1988, when the Edmund F. Ball Communications Building with modern television studios was built on the Ball State campus.

When Oakhurst Gardens was opened in 1995, the L. L Ball house was renovated for use as the starting point for tours.Visitors would enter, buy a ticket at the front desk, and view an informational slide show in the room to the right before beginning the tour through the gardens.†† Modern restroom facilities were installed on the lower level while the second floor was used for offices for the Oakhurst staff.

More recently, the procedure was changed so visitors now start their campus tour at Minnetrista and the L. L. Ball Building is used for offices and classrooms.†† However, the slide show is still available to visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Richard H. Cole, Jr.

© 2005 Minnetrista