We left the Casino Queen RV Park at 5:30 am and we continued east across Illinois. Our destination today: Columbus, Indiana.  First: We crossed the border into Indiana…

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Columbus, Indiana, is an architectural gem.  It is a typical Midwestern town of 44,000, located about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. It has a Victorian downtown, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It is also the home of Cummins, Inc. And therein lies the story:

J. Irwin Miller joined Cummins, the family business, in 1934.  As the nephew of the President, he always felt like others at the firm treated him differently and minimized his contribution to the company.  When World War II broke out he took the opportunity to enlist, and he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific. However, he was called back when his uncle died unexpectedly.  He was executive vice president from 1944 to 1947, president from 1947 to 1951, and chairman from 1951 to 1977.

In 1950, Miller helped to establish the National Council of Churches (NCC) and later served as its first lay president (1960–63). Miller chaired the NCC’s Commission on Religion and Race, which coordinated organized religion’s support for strong civil rights legislation, and jointly sponsored the March on Washington. He led religious delegations that met with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to push for the legislation that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1954, he established the Cummins Foundation; during the post-war boom, the city of Columbus started to build new schools. The first schools built were so ugly, and so poorly suited for fostering children’s education, that Miller felt he had to do something.  In 1957, he made an offer to the city that the foundation would pay all the architects’ fees for new public buildings in Columbus IF they were chosen from a list of architects selected by the Foundation.  Thus this small Midwestern city has buildings by Eero Saarinen, Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, John Dinkeloo, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, many of which feature extensive interiors designed by Alexander Girard.  The American Institute of Architects in 1991 declared Columbus America’s sixth most important city in terms of architecture. 

So this is why we are heading towards Columbus. Today we will tour the Miller house, and tomorrow we will see the other significant buildings in the city.

After an uneventful drive across Illinois and Indiana, we checked into the RV park at Ceraland; here is another piece of Mr. Miller’s legacy.

CERAland Park, established in 1963 as the Cummins Employees Recreation Association, started out as a corporate recreation facility in Columbus, IN, that has 345 acres of beautiful park land consisting of both indoor and outdoor recreational activities.  In 2012, the CERA Sports Corp was established as a not-for-profit organization that is committed to developing CERAland Park into the highest-quality recreation and wellness provider in the community.

Ceraland offers an 11-acre stocked lake, fishing, paddle boats, row boats, and canoes, 324 site campground, 6 camping cabins, picnic areas, 7 shelter houses, 2 outdoor basketball courts, 4 permanent Corn Hole sets and 3 portable sets, 6 horseshoe pits, 2 sandpit volleyball courts, a go-kart track, 18 hole miniature golf course, driving range, 6 tennis courts, outdoor amphitheater, playgrounds, remote control airplane strip, rifle and archery range, trap and skeet range, 9 softball / baseball diamonds, aquatic center with large water slide and toddler play area, 30,000 square foot sports & fitness center with 2 full gymnasiums, cardio room, running/walking track, weight room, locker rooms, and much, much more.

Currently, CERA has over 100 local community corporations / partners that provide the opportunity for their employees to participate and utilize the services of CERA for discounted corporate rates.  In addition, CERA continues its community outreach by offering an expansive Youth Sports program and events schedule.  CERA is the host site for Bartholomew County Little League, numerous Fast-pitch Softball and Baseball tournaments and leagues and is an AAU sanctioned park.

In 2014, CERA was opened to the public, and, thus, we are staying here for a few nights…

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There were major softball/baseball tournaments going on this weekend, but the camping area was very quiet:


I don’t know why, but Lynda keeps insisting on taking pictures with me in them. I have expressed my dissatisfaction…

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After setting up, we headed back into Columbus and met the Miller house tour at the visitor center. After watching a short video we boarded the shuttle bus to ride to the house, about 2 miles away.  The house is about 6,300 square feet, and is set on over 13 acres of beautiful, landscaped grounds. To get an idea of the extravagance of the place, we were told that Mr. Miller paid $30,000 for the land and over $550,000 for the construction of the house. Do the math… This was an extremely expensive house when it was built in the early 1950s.

Unfortunately, no interior photography is allowed, so you can only get a feel for the exterior and the grounds…

The house was designed by Eero Saarinen, the same architect who did the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This is one of only a few houses designed by Saarinen; he and Mr. Miller were close friends, and this house resulted.

The Millers had five children, and this was designed to be a true family home; in addition, was was designed on a grand scale to accommodate the many guests who came to visit – heads of state, titans of industry, famous architects.

The exterior walls are all giant slabs of black slate, with some walls clad in marble. The rest is glass… The interior walls are all the same white marble. There are linear skylights throughout the house, which means the quality and intensity of light changes as clouds pass by…

We entered the grounds through the service entry:

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The real entry approach for family and guests is off a small residential street:

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The front yard is impressive:


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So is the back yard…

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And the path to the pool:

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These exterior shots show some of the materials and detailing of the house…


All in all, a very impressive house. Designed to last for hundreds of years…