At the corner of Franklin St. and Indiana Ave. in downtown Valparaiso, the Porter County sheriff’s residence looms large. Holding important stories from the Region’s history, this residence is still an important historical landmark today in the center of a bustling downtown.
As both a place to live and a place to serve, the residence has been used for many purposes since its initial inception.
“There's great history in the building,” said Kevin Pazour, Porter County Museum director. “The stories on the family side of things are possibly the most interesting.”
Understanding that the structure served as a home for the sheriff and his family, Porter County Museum curators have taken great strides over the years to capture the stories of residents who called this historic structure home.
During his term as Porter County Sheriff from 1949-1958, Les Hineline and his family lived in the sheriff's residence. One of Hineline’s daughters, Beth Weldy, recalled tales of exploring the jail and downtown Valparaiso as a child.
“It was probably one of the most fascinating times of my life,” Weldy said. “I know that growing up there with all the privileges that I had. I was really truly blessed and a very lucky person.”
For Weldy, the location of the sheriff’s residence meant she and her siblings explored downtown carefree.
“We were right in the center of town in a very safe neighborhood,” Weldy said. “We went just about anywhere that we wanted to go without any hesitation because we were right in the middle of it.”
Exploring all that downtown Valparaiso at the time had to offer, Weldy and her siblings were well-known to locals.
“We would walk down to the bakery, go down to the grocery store, and on our way we would pass the police station and the fire station,” Weldy said. “Most of them knew us because we were back and forth along there so often.”
Weldy and her sisters were able to recently visit the sheriff’s residence to reminisce on these fun times and return to Valparaiso.
“I hadn't been through it very many times after I left,” Weldy said. “I was really glad we were able to see it, and I felt very privileged to live there.”
Sheriff Myrick Crampton’s daughter Barbara also has fond memories of living in the residence.
“I lived there for eight years,” Crampton said, ”from sixth grade until college.”
During their time there, all members of the family took part in the running of the facility. Barbara’s grandfather was the cook for the prisoners, and her mother remodeled the building to bring back its history and charm.
Further placing their stamp on the community, Sheriff Crampton oversaw the building of the “new” Porter County Jail during his tenure.
“My parents had a big open house with 300-400 people to view the newly refurbished living area and facilities at the Porter County Jail,” Crampton said.
Despite all the people in and out of the sheriff’s residence, for Crampton, it was simply her childhood home.
“To live there was definitely different,” Crampton said. “People would ask, ‘Do you really live at the jail?’ Everyone who came in and out was a part of our family–the deputies, judges–people took care of each other.”
“The Porter County sheriff’s residence has a story to tell,” Pazour said. “I look forward to being able to continue telling the stories that surround it.”