|Eastern Indiana Gem & Geological Society||
EIGGS Club History, 1966-present
Founded in April of 1966, the Eastern Indiana Gem & Geological Society was created for anyone interested in the earth sciences -- collecting minerals, crystals or fossils; cutting, grinding or polishing stones; tumbling stones; etching and carving stones; sand or lost wax casting; painting, glass leading, silver inlay, beadwork and silversmithing.
Dr. Charles Martin and the late Dr. Ansel Gooding from Earlham College’s Geology Department gave their input when the club was formed.
Meetings were first held at Earlham College, then, for many years, they were held at Hayes Arboretum in Richmond.
In April of 1973, the club held their first rock and gem show, which became an annual community event. The purpose of the show was to promote the earth sciences and associated interests. Held at the National Guard Armory from 1973-1984, the show moved to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in 1985.
In October of 1981, the club began holding meetings in the “J” Building at the Richmond State Hospital. Work sessions were also held in the 1980s in Al Vernon’s barn.
On April 8, 1999, EIGGS purchased the old Blue Jay Restaurant at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Rice Road outside of Centerville.
The club finally had a home of its own, with plenty of room for meeting space, collections and a lapidary workshop. However, the structure, built in 1842, had been partially destroyed by fire and had been empty for years. The building had extensive fire and water damage.
Members worked together and started tearing out and tearing down -- fixing windows, walls and floors. They painted and worked on plumbing and wiring, too. Members can be proud of their accomplishments, but must realize such a historic building will need vigilant maintenance.
The following has been paraphrased from an article published in the Palladium-Item on Nov 28, 1999.
• The building was originally a two-story farmhouse built circa 1840 by James Rariden, a prominent Centerville politician & land speculator.
• The house was part of a working farm and was used as an inn stop, called the Esteb Inn, on the old National Road. It housed settlers moving west and drovers moving herds of cattle and hogs east to markets.
• A brick farmhouse to the east on the north side of U.S. 40 was called Eliason’s Tavern and Stagecoach Stop. Initially, there was a tunnel between the two inns, but it collapsed in the 1920s.
• It was owned by the Nicholson family in the 1920-30s and served as the back gate of the Wayne County Fairgrounds, located to the south.
• A front was added in 1939 and it became the Blue Jay Restaurant, and served as such until the late 1950s. After that it was used as a church with an apartment on the second floor.
• A fire did considerable damage to the second floor in about 1994.
• EIGGS purchased the building in 1999 for little more than the value of the land, as the building was in bad condition. After club members worked on restoring the building for about five years, they were able to move in.
• The club currently has meeting space, workshop space, ample indoor and outdoor storage space, a lapidary shop and a saw room.