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When Ron Morris, a professor of history, was looking for a home a few years ago, he wanted to combine his love of the Federal style of architecture with a strong interest in America's expansion west along the National Road.

He found his dream house on Main Street in the historic town of Centerville, located just outside of Richmond, Indiana. And the community's Main Street just happens to be a part of the National Road—the nation's first federally funded highway.

"When I first visited, I knew the house had great potential because it had original floors, brick, baseboard, window and door trim, windows, doors, and one remaining fireplace mantel. It could be taken back to the 1840s with some minor compromises to make it comfortable for the 21st century."

Morris' newly restored residence is the James Rariden House, named for a former Hoosier politician who served in the U.S. Congress as a member of the Whig party from 1837-1841.

The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana honored Morris in 2008 with a preservation award for restoring the house, noting "his meticulous restoration that returned the house to the way it looked when Henry Clay made it an overnight stop in his 1844 presidential campaign."

The home's location along Indiana's portion of the National Road also came into play with Morris serving as a consultant for a Ball State documentary on the route. The documentary will focus on telling stories about people who have lived near the Indiana segment, located near Indiana 40, which stretches from Richmond to Terre Haute. Commissioned in 1806, the National Road runs from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois.

In 2007-08, Ball State students visited his home, including a group that used the residence as a focal point of a historical case study on Centerville, while an architecture student also focused on structure's physical attributes for a research project.

"There are few homes that you walk into today that have the ability to transport you back 160 years. For a history professor like me, this home is perfect."


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"There are few homes that you walk into today that have the ability to transport you back 160 years. For a history professor like me, this home is perfect." 

—Ron Morris