Stories from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) and the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (SPSMW) are partnering with the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, to present “Stories from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District.” Through architectural objects curated from lofty attics to basement crypts, “Stories” presents vignettes of history from the Historic District, building connection to our own lives and to the value of preservation. Designed for audiences of all ages, it highlights the National Register of Historic Places listing not only as a record of place, but as a history of people, events and ideas.

Architecture connects people across the past, present and future. This two-month exhibit at the Swope Art Museum will showcase architectural drawings, photographs and original architectural elements from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District. These design elements will introduce people to the buildings, ideas and lives of those who built this extraordinary place and preserved it for future generations.

Most of the historic buildings in the District were designed by Bohlen and Son architects of Indianapolis, making it the largest representative grouping of work from one of the nation’s longest-lived and most prolific architectural firms. Many Bohlen designed buildings are still in existence across Indiana today.

The “Stories” exhibit has been made possible through a Historic Preservation Education Grant from Indiana Landmarks, Indiana Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau. Funding also supported reprinting of a brochure about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District, which will be available at the exhibit.

The brochure and exhibit are activities of the Historic District Committee of SMWC and SPSMW. Committee chair Susan Dolle said, “Since the historic district was placed on the National Register in 2017, the committee has worked to create awareness about this unique, beautiful and historically significant place. The buildings reflect a presence and grace befitting the ideals of the founding Catholic order and the institution they established as one of the first higher education venues for women in the United States.”

The Historic District Committee has previously hosted architectural presentations, open houses and building tours. It also created a website about the Historic District where visitors can find details and photographs of the significant architectural structures and objects within the district, as well as a brief introduction to the architects and history of the Historic District.

“Stories from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District” can be viewed in the 2nd Floor Lobby and Education Galleries of the Swope Art Museum, from August 6th through October 4th, 2021.