December 15, 2001
The Wright House
On South Washington Street stands a house that is part of the history of Manon, Indiana. It is a strong reminder of the past and gives a portrayal of the lives of both average and extraordinary people. It has gone through many changes and owners, and has become part of a picture of life during the past and present in Marion. It portrays different aspects of Grant County, and has connections with the factory industry in Marion and also the educational and religious aspects of Marion.
The history of the Wright house goes back to 1833, when it was first shown as a tract of land in Grant County. This land was located in the College Addition to Marion, on a gravel road called Marion and Liberty Gravel Road. This road is now known in Marion as South Washington Street (Abstract). Across from the tract of land was Normal College, which is now Indiana Wesleyan University (Wayne Interview). This original tract of land included 80 acres, which was owned by Reuben Small. One interesting fact about this tract of land is that Nathan Coggelshall purchased the land from Small. Nathan Coggeishall was part of the Underground Railroad and helped runaway slaves during the 1800’s. In 1839 Coggelshall sold the land to Samuel Y. Pearson, who subdivided the tract of land. Robert and Ann Jenkins bought 94 acres of the land from Pearson in 1840 for one thousand and �Fussner 2
three hundred dollars. Ownership of the land was then passed down through heirs for several decades. The land kept being subdivided for several years without any record of a house standing on the plot of land where the Wright house exists today (Abstract).
The Wright house was not built until a man named William Davis bought the land from Arras Jones in 1898 (Abstract). There is no exact date as to when the house was actually built, but according to the Grant County Interim Report, the house was built around the year 1910 (Grant County Interim Report). Davis lived in the house until 1922, when he died. In his will, Davis left his estate to his son, Charles Davis. Charles Davis then owned the house from 1922 until 1944. Gertrude E. Pratt, a descendent of the earlier mentioned Arras Jones, ceded the house from Charles Davis. Unmarried, Pratt lived in the house until 1951 when she sold the house to Ben and Ida Courter (Abstract). Ben Courter was a factory worker at Bree Cosmetics (Polk’s 1950 83). Ben lived in the house until he died in 1967, and his son, Cedric Courter, took ownership of the property (Abstract). Cedric was also a factory worker, employed at Dana Corporation in Marion (Polk’s 1968 176).
Dana Corporation has played an important industrial role in Marion since 1950. Dana Corporation has been a major part of Marion, but especially during the middle-1900’s. In 1965, Dana hit high records. It enjoyed an all-time high in sales, and in 1965 four hundred new employees were added to the rolls. Located on 400 S. Miller Avenue and sitting on 64 acres, Dana Corporation has been a manufacturing plant for the transportation industry. Some products produced by Dana are automotive joints, propeller shafts, axle tubing and other automotive parts (Dana). �Fussner 3
Dana Corporation provided many jobs for Grant County. In the 1960’s it provided a major opportunity for Marion to grow and expand. William H. Schomburg, Dana plant
manager in 1966, summarized the importance of Dana in Marion:
Marion is a good community and a good place to expand. I see nothing but continued growth and opportunity here. As we do continue to grow and expand, the demand for young people with college degrees will increase. We expect to provide employment
opportunities for Marion young men in the fields of engineering, business administration and production (Dana).
Along with being a part of the industrial history of Marion, the Wright house also has
some interesting rumors surrounding it. One rumor involves Cedric Courter. According to Wayne and Virginia Wright, the current owners of the house, it was rumored that Courter was very distrusting of banks. Instead of putting his money in the bank, he would hide the money in the house. Charles Lewis, who bought the house in 1983 after Courter died, tore much of the house up looking for the hidden money. Neither Lewis nor any other person
has ever found the money. There is one place in the house that has not been searched, however, according to the Wrights. In the living room of the house there is the original
fireplace of the house that has been blocked. The Wrights suspect that the fireplace could be a possible hiding spot for the money (Wayne Interview).
Charles Lewis, who lived in the house from 1983 to 1985, was employed as the
general treasurer for the Wesleyan church. He also made the upstairs of the house into an apartment, in hopes of renting out the space to students enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan �Fussner 4
University. Wayne and Virginia Wright purchased the house from Charles Lewis in 1985.
The Wrights bought the house for their son Dan and his wife Karen to live in. Both Dan and
Karen Wright worked at Marion General Hospital. They moved out of the house in 1992 and
Wayne and Virginia Wright, who had been living in Indianapolis, moved in. Wayne and
Virginia had been missionaries to the Philippines as part of the Wesleyan Church. Wayne
had been working for Wesleyan World Missions since 1970. From 1984 to 1992 Wayne
was the general director of Wesleyan World Missions. He also taught several classes at
Indiana Wesleyan University. Wayne and Virginia are currently pastonng a Mt. Etna
Wesleyan Church in Mt. Etna, Indiana. They rent out the upstairs apartment to students at
Indiana Wesleyan University (Wayne Interview).
The transition of ownership of the Wright house from the Courters to Lewis and the Wrights is important. The Courters worked for the industrial aspect of Marion. They portrayed the picture of what Marion was during their time. The Courters were part of the fabric of Marion. Like the previous owners of the house, they grew up in Marion. But as ownership of the house was changing from the Courters to Charles Lewis and then to the Wrights, so was Marion. Education and religion were an important part of life in Marion, and drew people in even as the economy and factories were slowing down. Both Lewis and the Wrights were part of the Wesleyan Church, and outsiders to Marion.
The style of architecture for the house is free classic. The front of the house has an interesting design called a gable-front, and the house has a vernacular construction (Grant). Electricity was not originally used in the house, and there were still the original pipelines for �Fussner 5
gaslights in the attic of the house when the Wrights purchased the home. The original heating system of the house was hot water heating. In what is now the master bedroom, was once an icehouse. Ice was sold out of the icehouse to the surrounding locals, since none at that time possessed refrigerators. The Wrights have made several modifications to the house since they bought it in 1992. In the back of the house they have built on an office area and an enclosed patio. The Wrights spend a lot of time in the office area, wich aslo has a couch for afternoon naps. The patio is generally used during the summer as a relaxing place to read or visit with guests. The Wrights have also built a two-car garage, and have improved the driveway by paving it (Wayne Interview).
The Wright house plays an important part of the role of portraying aspects of life in Grant County during the past and present. It has been a part of transition and change in Marion life, and so have its many inhabitants. The history of the Wright house goes back many years, as does the history surrounding the people who have owned it. Whether a place to live for the average factory workers in Marion during the middle 1900’s, or an inhabitance for directors of religious affairs, the Wright house has withstood many changes. �Fussner 6
Abstract of Title. Lincoln Land Title Co. December 3, 1985.
“Dana Corp. Hit Records During 1965 Operations.” Pg. 8 Sec. 10. Chronicle-Tribune February 27, 1996.
Grant County Interim Report: Supplement With Corrections. 1993.
Polk’s Marion City Directory 1950. Ril, Polk and Co. 1951.
Polk’s Marion City Directory 1968. Ril, Polk and Co. 1968.
Wayne and Virginia Wright. Personal Interview. December 15, 2001. �