Archived Story

Jo-Ann Boepple: Inside the house on Section Street

Published 9:33pm Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hilary Rauch moved to Edwardsburg when he was in the first grade. He moved to the white house on Section Street between the middle school and the primary school. It was 1938 and his father Rufus Rauch was an English professor at the University of Notre Dame.

They had come to South Bend from Iowa and had lived in several locations until Rufus Rauch decided the family needed to get “back to the land.” They looked in Edwardsburg for a farm. A large farm north of Pleasant Lake was considered but was not to be. Later they looked at the Sol Kushner property on Section Street.

Sol and Ida Kushner owned a summer resort for Jewish women and children from Chicago. The property had been abandoned but there was plenty of room for the Rauch family and even Rufus Rauch’s parents and a niece. At one time 13 people lived in the house.

Could it provide what the family wanted? There were 12 acres with the house and several out buildings. The four story house counting the cupola was built in 1882  by John Barber. Many of the large rooms had been divided into smaller bedrooms. In the back behind the house was a 60-foot long dining hall with kitchen, which was torn down shortly after the family moved in, a large frame bathhouse with showers behind the house, another u-shaped nine room building which contained bedrooms with a lavatory and toilet in each room, an old large barn to the west and a cement tennis court and gazebo.

Inside the house there were 12 rooms; five bedrooms, four marble fireplaces, two up and two down; a three-story circular stairway; two large bay windows; and a large third floor attic. From the cupola one could see Notre Dame’s golden dome. The Rauch’s named it Ruhaven.

Hilary Rauch’s grandfather spent the fall of 1937 getting the house ready for the move-in. It took nine months to clean, remove walls, repair the woodwork, install a new furnace and distillate oil burning cabinet stoves placed in the fireplaces for heat.

A new septic system was installed, a 220-volt electric service to operate the kitchen stove, a downstairs bathroom added, new kitchen cabinets and sink installed in the kitchen.  During these long days, the grandfather stayed in the house, slept on a cot in the kitchen heated with a coal burning stove.

Shortly after moving in the dining hall was torn down, the big barn was removed except the pig house, the cupola was repaired which later blew down in a storm, the front porch was replaced with a terrace, and the house was white washed.

The Rauch family moved to Michigan with Rufus and Beryl Rauch, three children, Rufus’s parents and a niece they were raising. In the fall of 1938 the Rauch children entered the Edwardsburg schools, Yvonne in the eighth grade, Bill in fifth, Hilary in first and the cousin Bette Ann in third grade.

The family had their dream of living off the land. They spent time canning fruit and vegetables grown on the property and raised various farm animals, chickens, hogs, goats, ducks and even sheep were a part of their farm.

During this time they also added to their family. Gretchen was born in 1939 and Madelon in 1944. They lived in Edwardsburg during all of World War II but in 1945 it was decided they would move back to South Bend. When they came to Edwardsburg they had sold their house to Joseph Roper. Now they made a trade and switched houses and the Ropers moved to Edwardsburg and the Rauch family went back to their old home in South Bend.

During their seven years in Edwardsburg, Hilary’s father was on the Edwardsburg Village Council. The family attended Our Lady of the Lake Chapel on Eagle Lake, Beryl played the organ , Rufus was an usher, Bill and Hilary served as altar boys.

Hilary Rauch currently lives in  North Carolina and the material for this article came from his book, “The Rauch Book,” written by him and his father.

Many people have asked questions about the house on Section Street and this is just a small part of the history of the house.

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