Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Jul/Aug 2018 • 17 display? That's an undocumented sto- ry, Henderson said, "but it is part of the town's oral history." It seems that Orleans resident Henry Montsinger was a frequent visitor to Chi- cago and often visited the Williamson Candy Co., flirting with the girls who worked there. When the candy bar was introduced in 1909, and company officials were deciding what to name the new con- fection, they heard the girls respond to the visitor with the phrase "Oh, Henry" so often, that it was used to name the candy bar, now produced by Nestle Candy Co. Carnegie Library Orleans Public Library. one of the original Carnegie Libraries, was built in 1915 with a $10,000 grant from business- man Andrew Carnegie. Although the building has experienced several renova- tions, it still holds much of the character of the original structure. The picturesque fireplace was once used to heat the build- ing. Above it hangs a plaque that reads "Gift of Andrew Carnegie," along with his picture. The original librarian's desk is still in use. A recent $1.2 million library expan- sion program included adding a teen sec- tion and an office for library director Deb- orah Stone. When the library celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015, a gala was held and there was a ground-breaking ceremony for the addition. "The children's section was moved from the basement into a spacious ground-floor room," said Katlin Phillips, children's library services director. "We are a small staff in a little Carnegie Library, but we love it and just roll with it. I think we have been able to do a lot." Numerous summer reading programs and other pub- lic events are scheduled, she said. Education Education has always been impor- tant to the townspeople. Congress Square is sometimes referred to as "Seminary Square" because an academy was built on its site in 1864 and stood there until 1963, serving as the town's elementary school in its later years. In 1823, the peo- ple of Orleans resolved to have a school and fitted a small house for that purpose, with its first school building constructed in 1831, according to the Orleans his- tory web page. Currently, Orleans Public Schools are housed in two modern build- ings and have nearly 900 students. They have received A ratings from Indiana De- partment of Education, and Orleans High School was recently named a "Top Gain- er," the highest award presented by the American Student Achievement Institute for academic growth. Congress/Town Square Surrounded by historic buildings — including the Methodist church built in the early 1820s — Orleans Congress Square Park is the pride of the town. Its manicured grounds include shelter hous- es, playground equipment, a restored 1926 brick bandstand, vintage gas lights and Veterans Memorial. A beautiful foun- tain and sculpture are in the center. The Orange County HomeGrown Farmers Market — the 10th largest market in the country — is held there on Satur- day mornings from May through October with up to 150 vendors during peak sea- son. "We are proud of our park," Hen- derson said. "It is ideal for bringing the community together." Events include an annual Dogwood Festival, Summer Park concert series, Fall Fun Fest and Christ- mas on the Square. "Good things are happening in our small town," Henderson added. "There is a great sense of partnership and pride." That is something Orleans folks want to share by promoting the front porch effort. "We hope to make a rocker a sum- mertime symbol of Orleans' friendliness," said Henderson, who invites visitors "to come sit awhile." • A s far as anniversaries go, this was a special one to the folks in Orleans. Fifty years ago this spring, the town's Dogwood Festival was launched. It all began in the mid-1960s, when Elizabeth "Bill'" Wheeler, a local artist and florist, saw numerous flower- ing trees in a town she visited, said Rob- ert Henderson, the executive director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. That's when Wheeler got the idea for "Operation Dogwood" in her home- town. She enlisted the aid of a group of women who went to the woods, dug up dogwood trees and replanted them, lin- ing the passage into the town and along its main street. Wheeler also had her hus- band, who was fire chief, access the fire department's hose to water the trees, and they flourished. In 1968, Kate Noblitt decided it would be a good idea to have a festival celebrating the trees. She was passionate about the project and asked Gov. Edgar Whitcomb to declare Orleans "The Dog- wood Capital of Indiana." He did so in 1970. The first festival's success was limited, as it rained on the three-day event. This year's festival, held in April, was quite different. The weather coop- erated with the nine days of activities. The fest had carnival rides, food, crafts, shows, contests, a parade and more. The kickoff ceremony was called "Mayberry Values" and featured Rodney Dillard, a Bluegrass Hall of Fame legend. He was also a member of the Darling family on "The Andy Griffith Show." Honored 2018 festival guests in- cluded children of Wheeler and Noblitt, Henderson said, and added that "50 new dogwood trees were planted in honor of the occasion.'' Orleans - the Dogwood Capital of Indiana Festival's 50-year anniversary celebrated

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