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Photographer's Note

The collection at the Fairmount Historical Museum is now housed in the J.W. Patterson House, seen in the photo. It has been occupied by several illustrious residents of this small Indiana town, including Nixon Winslow, Levi Scott and Joseph Patterson, for which it was named. It was an old doctor's office, as Patterson served as the town physician from 1889 to 1913. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Now it is best known for housing the most complete collection of James Dean memorabilia in the world: the (Winslow) family donated most of the artifacts on display here, which include hundreds of personal possessions, letters and other documents and art owned and created by James Dean, including two of his motorcycles.

After the closure of two schools in Fairmount, including the Quaker Fairmount Academy and the Fairmount High School in 1969 (the building has sadly since been demolished; it was James Dean's high school as well), former students wanted to see the remnants of the time they spent there, and school administrators saved many of the artifacts which are now housed in several locations. The Fairmount Historical Museum, Inc. was formed in 1975, and money was raise to actually obtain a building. In 1977, the Museum Board purchased this house, the J.W. Patterson property, located at 203 E. Washington Street, an important landmark in its own right, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The museum finally opened in 1983. Artifacts related to Jim Davis's Garfield are also on display here.

Fairmount, Indiana, is a (very) small town (there's only one stoplight in town, about halfway down Main Street!), about an hour north of Indianapolis. The fist settler was John Winslow, who cleared land on a plot about four miles north of what is now the town, in 1830. The site is the same place where the Marcus Winslow farm is now situated, where James Dean spent his childhood. The working farm is still home to Marcus and his wife: Marcus appears in several very famous photographs of James Dean, who frequently visited his home town. The first home built within town limits was constructed by John Benbow in 1831, and was completed two years later. The community grew over the next several decades, and had become a thriving town by 1850. The town was reportedly named for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, by one David Stanfield, a prominent citizen. Their surveyor, who had just returned from visiting the original Fairmount Park, agreed. Joseph Baldwin opened a store at the corner of Main and Washington Streets in 1851, and other merchants quickly followed. In 1887, the Fairmount Mining Company was founded, which focused on natural gas extraction. The well caught fire in 1888, however, which brought some notoriety to the town, but the supply ran out about ten years later. Prominent residents since have included James Dean, of course, Jim Davis, the creator of the comic strip "Garfield," Phil Jones, a CBS Correspondent, and Olive Rush (1873-1966), an artist and a pioneer in Native American Art Education.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1196] (2114)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2019-05-20
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2020-05-19 11:00
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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1196] (2114)
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