Built in 1889, Tippecanoe Place, a fine dining restaurant in South Bend is an elaborately gabled and turreted 24,000-square-foot Richardsonian Romanesque-style house which belonged to Clem Studebaker, one of the Studebaker auto magnates. Perfectly preserved, it’s about what having it all meant back in the late 1800s. With 40 rooms, 20 fireplaces and ball room, it took three years to build at a cost of $250,000 (around $6.4 million in today’s money). Add in another $100,000 the family spent on furnishings for all four floors and you can see it was quite a home.
Clem and his brother Henry had made their fortune by growing their blacksmith shop into the world’s largest buggy business, making horse driven wagons for the Civil War effort and then segueing successfully into manufacturing Studebaker cars. At one time, after buying Pierce Arrow, the sleek automobile luxury brand, they even had a Rockne line named after the famed Notre Dame coach who talked up the cars at auto conventions. But alas, deep in debt and with the Depression in full force, Studebaker went into bankruptcy in 1933 and Clem’s son, George, who lived there with his family, abandoned the house which then stood empty for seven years until it was purchased for $20,000 and used first by the Red Cross and then as a school for the handicapped.
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, four years later Tippecanoe Place earned the even more coveted and prestigious designation as a National Historic Landmark. In 1980, it was restored at a cost of about $2 million and turned into a restaurant and since then, it’s been the go-to-place for weddings, family events, parties and gracious dining.
The interior of this splendid manse, all highly polished woods, stunning chandeliers, elaborately carved woodwork including the grand staircase, serves classic American fare such as prime rib with creamy horseradish sauce, Indiana roast duckling, shrimp cocktail and chicken Oscar amidst all this elegance (but don’t worry neither tiara or tux are required to dine—it’s casual despite the splendor). The sumptuous—and diet busting—Sunday Brunch is a feast that makes you swear, falsely of course, that you won’t need to eat for a month. There’s also an extensive wine and spirit list.
As for the name Tippecanoe, Clem was good friends with Benjamin Harrison, an Indianapolis lawyer who would become the 23rd President of the United States. Harrison’s grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was the hero (depending on whose side you were on) of the Battle of Tippecanoe which took place near Lafayette in 1811. He too was a U.S. President. But it also could originate from the fact that Tippecanoe, the leader of the Miami Indians, liked to camp on the land where Clem built his mansion. Guided tours are available but you can also take a peak on your own. And be sure to check out the historic memorabilia about the Studebaker family and business on display.
Here’s an adaptation of one of Tippecanoe’s signature desserts.
Frangelico Cream Mouse
3 large egg yolks
1-1/2 cups superfine sugar
1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueuor
2 cups heavy cream (36% milk fat) Note: Avoid using ultra pasteurized as it won’t whip properly.
In a mixer with a wire whip, beat egg yolks with the sugar and the vanilla until light and pale.
Beat in softened cream cheese, then add the Frangelico, mixing until very smooth. Set aside in a cool place.
Whip the heavy cream until stiff in another bowl and then fold into the cream cheese mixture. Chill.
Garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves
Serve in individual glasses or in a large, pretty dish.
620 W. Washington
South Bend, IN