The Gaar House Museum

Gaar Mansion

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The Abram Gaar House and Farm or known as the Gaar Mansion is a Second Empire Victorian home located in Richmond, Indiana, built in 1876 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The home was built by industrialist Abram Gaar, president of Gaar-Scott and Company, manufacturers of steam engines and threshing machines from 1842-1911. Total construction cost of the home was $20,000 it took eight months to build. The house is situated on a rise overlooking the city of Richmond from the north. Gaar hired John A. Hasecoster, the area's leading architect of the day to design the house and his original plans drawn on linen sheets are on display at the house today.


Abram Gaar (1819-1894)

Abram Gaar, president of the great manufacturing company of Gaar, Scott & Company, Richmond, Indiana, died at his suburban home near that city, of diabetes, on February 10, 1894.

He was born in Wayne County, Indiana, November 14, 1819; and as his father moved to Richmond when he was in his infancy, he was almost a life-long resident of that city, with which his history is so closely interwoven.  He attended what schools there were then, but spent most of his younger days in his father’s cabinet shop, where he passed an apprenticeship.  Being a natural mechanic, he worked at pattern-making, also making woolen machinery.  When he was but eighteen years of age misfortune came to his father, and he was thrown out of work. In 1839 and 1840 he worked with Abel Thornburg at mill-righting, but after that went to school, attending school last in 1842, when James M. Poe, later Mayor of Richmond, was teacher.  In 1843 he went to work for J. M. & J. H. Hutton, in the old Spring Foundry Machine Shops.  Here he worked until 1849, letting his wages stand; and then he, with his father, Jonas Gaar, his brother J. M. Gaar, and William G. Scott, bought the plant and formed the partnership of A. Gaar & Co., which continued in the manufacture of threshing machinery until 1870, when it was incorporated under the name of Gaar, Scoot & Company, and Abram Gaar became president, which office he filled until his death.

Thus was laid the foundation of one of the most extensive manufacturing properties in Indiana, and one productive of much good.  It has laid the foundation of many large fortunes, supported thousands of families, educated many thousands of first-class mechanics, paid out many millions of dollars in wages, and has done its share in developing the resources of this entire country by furnishing improved machinery, with the use of which farmers have been enabled to reached results in the improvement and tilling of their farms to an extent almost undreamed of before their time.  At the time of his death Mr. Gaar was closely identified with the firm.

Politically Mr. Gaar was a Democrat until the repeal of the Missouri compromise, when he left that party and became a Republican.  He never belonged to any secret orders, but was always a strong temperance man, and identified with those societies.  In 1867 he joined the Methodist Church, of which his wife had been a member since 1851.  He has always been a liberal man in church’ work, doing much good there.  In all enterprises tending to the betterment of mankind his purse was always open, and he was a liberal donor to anything for the benefit and advancement of Richmond.  In 1883 he gave largely toward the erection of the First M. E. Church.  He was elected one of the trustees of the Home for Friendless Women in 1868, and served for nine years.  In 1876 he erected a palatial home on his farm near Richmond, a model in all ways as a residence, and has lived there ever since, though his kindly face was a familiar sight about the factory and on the streets.  It can be truthfully said of him that he died with a clean record; a man who never had an enemy, and whom all respected with a respect that was well.  There are but two of his brothers who survive him.  - Chicago Paper -

Abram Gaar. By the occurrence of his death, Wayne County lost one of its most valued citizens. His entire life was spent within its borders, and for a number of years he was in control of what is probably the chief industrial interest of the county. In America "labor is king," and the sovereignty that the liberty-loving people of this nation acknowledge is that of business. The men of influence in this enlightened age are the enterprising, progressive representatives of commerce, and to such ones advancement and progress are due. Abram Gaar was one who had the mental poise and calm judgment to successfully guide and control gigantic business affairs, and at the same time he had a keen appreciation of the ethics of commercial life, so that he not only commanded the respect of his fellow men for his uprightness, but also excited their admiration by his splendid abilities.

Mr. Gaar was born in Wayne County, November 14, 1819, and during his infancy was taken by his parents to Richmond, where he spent his remaining days. He served a regular apprenticeship, and in 1845, when his father embarked in the foundry business, Abram, being a natural mechanic, worked at pattern making, building wooden machinery and other labors in connection with the foundry business. After a short time, however, misfortune overtook the enterprise and he was thus thrown out of employment. He was then about eighteen years of age, and during the two succeeding years he was in the employ of Ellis Nordyke, a millwright. All this time he was gaining a good practical knowledge of mechanical work that well fitted him for his greater responsibilities in connection with the Gaar Machine Works. About 1840, however, a period of financial depression and consequent business inactivity came upon the country, and as there was not much demand for mechanical work, he turned his attention to literary pursuits.

He attended school for some time, his last teacher being James M. Poe, under whose direction he pursued his studies in 1842. The following year he entered the employ of J. M. and J. H. Hutton in the old Spring Foundry machine shops, and there devoted himself untiringly to his duties, thus mastering the business in principle and detail. He also saved the major part of his wages until, in 1849, having acquired considerable capital, he purchasedthe plant, with his father, his brother, John M., and his brother-in-law, William G. Scott, as partners. The business was reorganized and conducted under the name of A. Gaar & Company XE "A. Gaar & Company" , and from that time until his death, forty-five years later, Abram Gaar was actively connected therewith and contributed in no small measure to its success. On the 1st of April 1870, the business was incorporated under the name of Gaar, Scott & Company with a paid up capital of four hundred thousand dollars, and he was elected President, a position that he continued to fill, with marked ability, until his demise. The business steadily grew in volume and importance until it had assumed extensive proportions and was accounted the leading industrial concern of the county. In its management Abram Gaar displayed splendid executive power and keen discrimination, and he was widely recognized as a most capable businessman.

Threshing Machine - Gaar, Scott & Company

On the 26th of March 1851, Mr. Gaar was united in marriage to Miss Agnes Adams, born May 2, 1831, a daughter of Henry and Agnes (Chapman) Adams. She was born on a farm south of Richmond, but spent the greater part of her girlhood, until her ninth year, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in Illinois. Her mother died in the latter state, after which the family returned to Wayne County. Mr. Adams was connected with the firm of Gaar, Scott & Company for a long period, and died in his seventy-fourth year. Mrs. Gaar was reared in Richmond from the age of nine, and from her thirteenth year until her marriage, at the age of nineteen, she acted as her father's housekeeper. To Mr. and Mrs. Gaar were born four children: Oliver P., Clem. A., Samuel W., and Nettie R. Gaar. The daughter is the wife of S. S. Stratton, Jr., and all are residents of Richmond.

In 1867 Mr. Gaar became a member of the Methodist Church, to which his widow belongs, and at all times was a liberal contributor to church and charitable interests. His support and cooperation were withheld from no enterprise calculated to prove of public benefit. He voted with the Democracy in early life, but when the Missouri Compromise was repealed, his opposition to slavery led him to join the Republican Party, with which he affiliated until his death. Education, temperance, political reform and morality always found in him a friend, and in 1883 he donated five thousand dollars toward the erection of the First Methodist Church in Richmond. In 1868 he was elected one of the trustees of the Home for Friendless Women, and for nine years gave his services to that institution without pecuniary reward. He was a man of large heart and broad humanitarian principles, and his public career and private life were alike above reproach. In 1876 he erected a beautiful residence on his farm two miles from the city, and made it one of the most attractive homes in Wayne County. There, in the midst of family and friends, he spent many delightful hours, for he was a man of domestic tastes and was never happier than when ministering to the happiness of his wife and children. He died February 10, 1894, and the community mourned the loss of one of its most valued citizens.


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