The Fairmount Web Spot
Fairmount Historical Museum.

The Fairmount Historical Museum

Joseph Patterson (1859-1913)

The House

During the Gas Boom there lived a doctor, Joseph Patterson (1859-1913), who is shown on the left. Dr. Patterson was a very important man in the town's history. He was chiefly responsible for having the water works built; for buying the private school that would become part of Fairmount High School; and for giving most of the town's streets the names they have today.

Dr. Patterson lived in a lovely red-brick two-story house that was built in 1888 by a great-grandfather of James Dean. Next to this was a small red-brick building which served as his office. In the years after his death, the houses were put to other uses. When I moved to Fairmount in 1971, the Patterson house was an apartment block.

The Museum

In 1975 the Fairmount Historical Museum was founded as a non-profit organization to preserve the trophies, class photos and other memorabilia of the old Fairmount High School after the closure the school's auditorium where they were stored. Two years later, it bought the Patterson house, which in 1983 became its permanent home. It also bought Patterson's office, which has been rebuilt from fire damage caused by the ice storm of January 2005.

Afterwards the house was restored to its original appearance, and various artifacts of Fairmount's past have been placed in its yard. Inside the museum are memorabilia not only of the town and its former high school, but also of its most famous citizen, James Dean.

On June 8, 2002, the Museum reopened in a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony after months of extensive remodelling, including the fitting of a new climate-control system to better preserve its artifacts and exhibits. Among the speakers at the ceremony were town historian Ann Warr, town council president Melba Root, and a descendant of Dr. Patterson.

The exhibits on the first floor now put greater emphasis on those town citizens who have left the greatest mark on the world: James Dean, cartoonist Jim Davis (Garfield), and retired CBS News journalist Phil Jones.

In summer 2003 the second floor was reopened with exhibits that focus on local town history, including Fairmount High School and the town's involvement with the two world wars.

The doctor's office building was gutted in a fire during the ice storm of January 2005. The house was rebuilt over the following year and a half. Then a wind storm in mid-2007 ripped apart the maple tree in front of the museum (shown in the picture to the right); its north half fell on the museum itself. While the sign has been destroyed, the museum itself escaped with only minor damage confined to the porch. In time the porch was repaired, and the sign replaced with something flashy.


The Museum is open from March through November, and closed during the winter months. Its hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Contact Info

If you wish to write to the Museum, the address is:

Fairmount Historical Museum
P.O. Box 92
203 East Washington Street
Fairmount, Indiana 46928-1700
Tel: 1-765-948-4555

Museum Days

The museum sponsors the town's annual festival, Museum Days, during the fourth weekend of September. Among the festival's events are:

Copyright © 2014 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 29 September 2014. Embedded microformats