'Town and Gown' book signing commemorates local Bloomington history
On Wednesday, May 16, Indiana University Press and the City of Bloomington will present "Town and Gown," a celebration of the release of two historically significant books: "The Showers Brothers Furniture Company: The Shared Fortunes of a Family, a City, and a University" by Carrol Krause, and "Herman B Wells: The Promise of the American University" by James H. Capshew.
The event, from 4 to 6 p.m., is part of Historical Preservation Month activities. The book signings will take place in City Hall Atrium, and the event is free and open to the public. Mayor Mark Kruzan and IU Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Tom Gieryn will introduce the authors, who will read from and sign books. Books will be available for purchase at a 20 percent discount.
When the Showers family arrived in Bloomington, the railroad had only recently come to town and a modest university was struggling to survive.
Having spent the prior 18 years moving from place to place, the family decided to settle down and invest its modest resources to start a furniture company. The business proved to be extremely profitable and a stroke of good fortune for the small community. The company's success strengthened Bloomington's infrastructure, helping to develop new neighborhoods, and the philanthropic acts of the Showers family supported the town's continued development.
The family's contributions helped Indiana University through difficult times and paved the way to its becoming the largest university in the state. In "The Showers Brothers Furniture Company," Krause, a member of Bloomington's Historic Preservation Commission and a Herald-Times columnist, tells the story of a remarkably successful collaboration between business, town and gown.
Energetic, shrewd and charming, Herman B Wells was the driving force behind the transformation of Indiana University -- which became a model for American public higher education in the 20th century.
A person of unusual sensitivity and a skilled and empathetic communicator, his character and vision shaped the structure, ethos and spirit of the institution in countless ways. Wells articulated a persuasive vision of the place of the university in the modern world. Under his leadership, Indiana University would grow in size and stature, establishing strong connections to the state, the nation and the world.
Wells' dedication to the arts, to academic freedom and to international education remained hallmarks of his 63-year tenure as president and university chancellor. He lavished particular attention on the flagship campus at Bloomington, expanding its footprint tenfold in size and maintaining its woodland landscape as new buildings and facilities were constructed. Gracefully aging in place, he became a beloved paterfamilias to the IU clan.
A faculty member of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at IU Bloomington, and former Wells house boy, James Capshew shows how Wells built an institution, and, in the process, became one himself.