I received E-Mail that said:
My reason for writing is to tell you of another castle in Fort Wayne, IN. This structure was built in the last half of the 19th century and rebuilt in the early 20th after a fire by William?? Bass of Bass foundry fame and now serves as the library for the St. Francis College. It is often referred to locally as "the castle" I have walked the inside of this castle in the dark at night and can testify that it is plenty castle like in nature.
Does anyone have more information? Was this really built by Mr. Bass, or should it have another name? Any information about the history would be appreciated. I think it's only fair that if a castle does not have a name, it should be named after the person who built it.
Later, I redeived E-Mail that said:
I am writing in response to the info about The castle in Ft. Wayne. I went to St. Francis College and so am rather familiar with the castle since it is the library. I spent many hours there.
It actually is known as Bass Mansion and to my knowledge was built by Bass himself. However, this is actually the second rendering of the castle because it nearly burnt to the ground. Unfortunately, I don't remember what year.
As a student in the honor's club, we spent Halloween night in the mansion three years in a row and it can be a rather spooky place. The third floor has a beautiful ball room. The basement used to have a tunnel system that I believe lead to the servants quarters. The tunnel system is no longer accessable. Each room of the castle has a picture of what it used to look like and a brief history of the room. Much of the interior decoration is similar to what it would have been when it was built. The woodwork is handcarved and gorgeous. The exterior of the mansion has many gargoyles within the walls and pillars.
It truly is a beautiful, mansion.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I'm writing about the Bass Castle in Indiana. We call it the Bass Mansion. Yes, it was built by the Bass family. The first home was mostly destroyed in a fire.
I don't have all the history. But could get most of it. My great aunt on my mothers side was a maid or cook for the bass family and married the chauffeur. My stepfather's dad (or grand dad) was the overseer on the huge farm they once owned across from the main mansion.
My mother, (who is 77) remembers going to Christmas parties at the mansion in the ballroom. The Bass family was good to their employees and each year had a catered exquisite party for their help and the family members of their hired help in the great ball room. (Right down to the band and the finest of foods) It was their turn to be "waited on" and pampered. The lake was stocked with fish and they kept swans and other exotic animals on the property that roamed freely.
According to my mother and father, it was at one time the "grandest" home in this area and it truly does look like a castle. As with many wealthy families, there are lots of "stories" and some "scandals" and reports of eccentricity and tragedies. But it is a beautiful home and "us locals" sure hated to see it not maintained as a museum or showplace. But evidently that was not in its destiny.
This isn't exactly the "cultural center of the Midwest" or a tourist town, and our City has not put the efforts into maintaining and restoring a lot of our history and historic areas. This is something that has always saddened me. I love to visit cities where they have preserved much of their past and hung on to their legacies and maintained areas where people can take that step back into time and relive and enjoy what once was.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I was doing some research on my family's estate as St. Francis College in Fort Wayne will eventually be doing a restoration on the Bass mansion. This is the Home that my Grandmother grew up in. She passed on just a few weeks ago. I came across your web site which has some information on the home. I would be happy to provide you some pictures and accurate information on this estate which our family knows as "Brook side." It is interesting to note while this house looks very castle-like, it was designed by my great grandfather (a steel foundry owner) in conjunction with an architect with a lot of Ideas taken from the Henry Ford Mansion in Dearborn Michigan (nearby my current residence).
It is true that this was the second Brook side on the same property due to a Broiler overheating in the home. I was glad to read that our family treated our employees well. An interesting note is that John H. Bass (my great Grandfather) had among his wildlife preserve, the first heard of Angus Cattle in the US. I toured through the Castle with my Grandma and one of her 2 sisters, and some other family members a number of years ago, she told me all kinds of stories of how she used to play hide and seek among other things. My Grandmother married Paul W. Sutter, and I am one of more than 20 grandchildren.
Later, I received E-Mail that said:
I found your info on the Bass Mansion (castle) very fun to read. As I am a descendent of John & Laura Bass. I see where you have had other family write you regarding the history, they are descendents of Linda Leslie Sutter. And I am a descendent of Grace Leslie Dickerson. They were the last living of the five Bass grandchildren.
My grandmother told me many stories of growing up in the house. My father also shared his stories of being a very young child and having the entire house to play in. I feel very fortunate that our family still has many of the original family heirlooms, and much of the original furniture. I would be more than happy to give you any further information that would like to have in regards to the Bass family or their estate.
Here is some further family info that may help you.
John H. Bass born in Salem,KY 11/9/1835 died at Brookside 12/17/1922, retired when 82 from his ironworks foundry known as the Bass Foundry & Machine Works along with several other business ventures. One of which was being partial owner of the original street railway system in Ft.Wayne. John married Laura H. Lightfoot of Covington, KY on 10/30/1865. Their daughter Laura Grace married Dr. Gaylord M. Leslie who in tern had five children (three girls) Mary, Linda, Grace, and two sons John Jr. and Gaylord.
His Brookside estate was 300 acres including an artificial lake, buffalo, elk and deer parks, They breed Clydesdale horses and Galloway cattle. The large cattle farm provided milk for much of the Ft.Wayne area. The original home was built in the mid 1880's and took four years to build. The held a very large housewarming party on 12/11/1889. There was a fire which started in the boiler room on the night of 2/10/1902. John Bass didn't take long to decide that he would rebuild the exact same home. Their were lots of hand carving, marble and mosaic fireplaces. Oriental rugs, stained glass windows, Tiffany glass light fixtures, hand paintings on the walls and much more.
John H. Bass was one of the founders of Lindenwood cemetery in Ft. Wayne. where he was laid to rest in the Bass family mausoleum.
On 3-12-15, I received e-mail that said:
I have just a couple of things to add regarding the Bass Mansion. In 1961 when I graduated from dental hygiene school and came to Ft Wayne, I had a St Francis University nun as a patient. We got to talking about the mansion and she said that she would give me a tour. At that time she said you were not allowed on the ballroom floor, but I 'looked' in. Wow. She told me there used to be game tables all around the outside. As we toured she went on to say that Mr. Bass wanted to marry Mrs. Bass and told her if she would marry him he would build this home according to her likes. The nun said that the two of them and an architect traveled everywhere. Mrs. Bass like all different kinds of architecture and that is why one sees so many different styles in the home/décor. Another side story--I also had another patient who told me her grandmother used to live on Bass Road (by the mansion). The grandmother and the Bass children/child ? used to have the run of the place. She said her grandmother always chuckled about the time they put an ironing board on the stairway and slid down.
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Information sent in by Keith A. Cunningham, Jennifer Evans, Judy Parisot and Laura Austin.