I doubt many people think about it when they walk the area around Noblesville’s current high school, but there’s a fair amount of history on that land. For nearly 140 years that was the County Farm (also known as the Poor Farm) and the site of the County Home (also known as the Asylum for the Poor or the County Infirmary.)
Originally, each township had an “Overseer of the Poor” who was appointed to identify and see to the needs of residents who were too poor or disabled to fend for themselves. Then, in 1846, the County Commissioners decided indigents should be gathered together in one place, so they directed the overseers to send their charges to an 80 acre farm northeast of Noblesville and built a two-room log cabin to house them.
The first superintendent was allowed $300 a year for the care of an average of seven paupers. He started with eight: a mother and her four children from Clay Township, an elderly man from White River Township, an elderly woman from Noblesville Township and a Wayne Township man “of completely unsound mind.”
Despite continual improvements, by the 1850s the accommodations were no longer adequate, so a brick building, two stories high in the front and one story in the rear, was constructed.
At the same time, the farm was enlarged by an additional 80 acres purchased from William Conner’s son, A. H. Conner.
The remainder of the County Farm/Home’s story is one of constant change . . . and of ups and downs.
The Home itself, located on the west side Cumberland Road (formerly called — surprise! — County Farm Road,) a little north of Monument Street, was added to and remodeled on several occasions, most notably in the 1870s and in 1903.
At times over the years, it was considered a disgrace. One 1950 Noblesville Daily Ledger article described it as “cold and unfriendly, dark, dirty and in need of repair.”
During other periods, however, renovations made it an institution of which the county could be proud. In 1955 the Ledger stated that it had “all the earmarks of a ‘country estate.’”
(A friend of mine confessed when she was growing up in the 1960s and didn’t know what the County Home was, she thought the building was so impressive she wanted to live there!)
The farm underwent many changes as well.
At its largest, it consisted of 200 acres (or 210, depending on the source.) Some of that land was taken away to create Crownland Cemetery, though, and in 1955, 5.4 acres were sold to the State Highway Department for the construction of State Road 37.
During the early years, the Home’s able-bodied residents worked the farm, raising cattle, hogs and chickens, as well as corn, oats, clover and various kinds of fruit. However, later residents tended to be elderly and incapable of strenuous activities, so the farmland was rented out and only the Home was run by the county.
The beginning of the end for the County Home came in 1982 when it failed to pass the State Fire Marshal’s inspection. Around $100,000 worth of repairs were thought to be necessary before the structure could be brought up to code.
Between the expense the renovations posed and the fact the Home’s population was dwindling due to welfare programs taking over care of the elderly, a decision was made to close the facility the following year.
The County Home’s last 15 residents were relocated and the Home was left vacant while its fate was being decided.
In early 1985, the historic old building burned to the ground. Because all the utilities had been disconnected for months, arson was suspected, but I’m not sure that was ever proven.

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Wednesday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com