Albert R Beardsley was a guiding force in the early days of the Miles Medical Company, later to become Miles Laboratories. Albert, better known as A.R., had become wealthy and was a leading member of the Elkhart community. He and his wife Elizabeth, also a prominent citizen, felt it was appropriate for them to have an elegant home where they could live well and greet business associates and other dignitaries.
Ruthmere, at the corner of Beardsley and Grove Streets, is definitely a showplace, with its grand parlor, mahogany woodwork and exquisite library, as well as a dining room with hand-painted velvet wall coverings. A spectacular game room downstairs was the site of many nights of pinochle, along with poetry readings, literary presentations and talks about the Beardsleys’ many travels. Today, the game room is used for special events and intimate concerts.
From the front of the house, you can see the conservatory, but what you can’t see is that there’s actually a tunnel under the driveway that comes from the game room over to the conservatory., built so Elizabeth didn’t have to go outside to get there. The garage toward the back of the house has chauffer’s quarters upstairs (A.R. never drove a car) and a turntable downstairs so a car could be driven in, turned around and driven back out without backing up. By the way, a 1912 Pratt / Elcar,, a 1916 Milburn Electric and a 1917 Cadillac are on display inside.
Elizabeth died in 1924, and A.R. followed her in death just six months later. They only lived at Ruthmere for 14 years, but their home remains an exquisite architectural example, and a wonderful snapshot of what life was like for Elkhart’s wealthiest people a century ago.
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