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Kizer House | Photo © 2020 David Bulit

Kizer House

Location Class:
Built: 1888 | Abandoned: Unknown
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1975)
Status: Under Renovation
Photojournalist: David Bulit

The Kizer Family

The Kizer House, also known as the Castle, was built around 1888 by businessman William L. Kizer for his family. The two-and-a-half-story home was designed in the Romanesque style. It is built of ashlar stone with an irregular plan, a high-pitched roof, and a corner turret, giving it the appearance of a castle.

Kizer founded two South Bend, Indiana, businesses with his partner Jacob Woolverton: Kizer & Woolverton, which specialized in financial instruments and real estate, and the South Bend Malleable Range Company, which manufactured coal and wood ranges. Kizer also invested in everything from railroads to timber companies and served as the director of a local bank and an appointee in the city government.

At the turn of the century, William and his wife Elizabeth saw the deaths of two of their three children. In 1902, their 17-year-old son, Ward Kizer, died of cognitional heart failure. Horace Kizer died of a stroke at 40 years old. Willomine Kizer, the daughter of William and Elizabeth, was a two-time champion of the St. Joseph Valley Women’s Golf League and an active hunter, fisherman, and tennis player. She died in 1929, two years after her mother’s passing, leaving behind an estate worth nearly $10 million in today’s value.

Kizer House

Restoration Work on the Kizer House

The house sat vacant for a few years before being used as a sanatorium. In 1947, it was divided into apartments and served as an apartment house for many decades. In 1975, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure of the West Washington Historic District, although on record, it’s labeled as the Kaiser-Schmidt House. The district is occupied by many notable houses, such as Copshaholm, also known as the Joseph D. Oliver House, Tippecanoe Place, the former home of Clement Studebaker, and Avalon Grotto, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Indiana Landmarks purchased the Kizer House in 2012. Restoration began in 2015, and it was sold in 2022 for $350,000.

kizer house
The Kizer House before the lawn was paved over and the trees removed. Indiana Landmarks
David Bulit

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