Ruthmere was built between 1908 and 1910 by A.R. Beardsley and his wife Elizabeth Baldwin Beardsley. It was named after their only daughter, Ruth, who died in infancy. The “mere” part of the name means “near the water,” referring to the St. Joseph River.
The home was designed by E. Hill Turnock, an architect whose influence can be seen all over Elkhart, even today. In Chicago, Turnock had been a student of William LeBaron Jenney, and had also worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. His own architectural style is fairly distinctive -- his Brewster Apartment building is a jewel of Chicago architecture. But compared to his other structures, Ruthmere is unique. It is designed largely in the Beaux Arts style, but has Art Nouveau and Prairie School features as well. Like many wealthy homes of the time, it is rather eclectic in its influences and its furnishings.
After Albert and Elizabeth’s deaths in 1924, the home remained a private residence until Albert's great-great nephew, Robert B. Beardsley, an architectural preservationist, launched a restoration effort, which he also supervised. The site opened to the public in 1972 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
When you tour Ruthmere, you’ll see a multifaceted cultural and historical museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of a wealthy couple of the early 20th Century, along with rich exposure to architecture and art. Ruthmere hosts numerous special events, including concerts, garden parties and special exhibits, as well as weddings and other private affairs.
Tours of Ruthmere are offered daily from April through December. Be sure to take advantage of this rich cultural resource.