Goshen: The Maple City

Goshen is located in the heart of Amish Country.

A Goshen landmark, the Elkhart County Courthouse is a beautiful structure in the historic downtown Goshen. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Goshen landmark, the Elkhart County Courthouse is a beautiful structure in the historic downtown Goshen. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Almost all roads lead to this varied collection of beautifully restored turn-of-the-century buildings and tidy Victorian homes. Goshen is also laced with eclectic shops, specialty boutiques, and cozy cafés set throughout the historic downtown.

In 1983, the downtown Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Goshen’s downtown is one of the coolest around—hands down. Few towns this size (about 30,000 residents) can boast about a thriving downtown cultural arts scene, beautiful historic architecture, and intriguing places to eat and shop.

Admire the classic courthouse in the heart of town. Peek into the bunker-like police booth on the Corner of Main and Lincoln dating back to the days when John Dillinger was the bane of bankers.

Admire the artistry and talk with nationally known quilters, potters and sculptors at the Old Bag Factory.

Many residential streets are lined with stately maple trees, giving Goshen the nickname, The Maple City.

Just outside of town, walking and biking paths fan out along the Maple City Greenway and the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail.

The Old Bag Factory

Since 1984, the century-old bag factory has provided a strong foundation for today's artists and shopkeepers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Since 1984, this century-old bag factory has provided a strong foundation for today’s artists and shopkeepers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built in 1896 the Old Bag Factory is home to producing artists, antiques, specialty shops, and cafes. The historic character of the complex provides a unique and charming setting for the specialty shops it houses.

In June 1896, J.J. Burns, an Ohio native opened the Cosmo Buttermilk Soap Company in Goshen. Inside, workers manufactured laundry soap, fine bathing soap, and toilet paper.

In 1910, the plant was renovated and purchased by The Chicago-Detroit Bag Company. A 1924 merger put the building under the control of the Chase Bag Factory, and the factory became part of a colossal enterprise. The range of bags extended from waterproof burlap sacks to the fine, sheer paper used in Hershey’s Kiss wrappers.

The term “bagology” was coined during this period, meaning “to elevate the production of bags to the level of science.” However, after many years of triumph and success, the churning wheels of baglogical science caused the building to become outdated; the Bag Factory closed its doors in 1982, after a long, slow decline.

Address: 1100 N. Chicago Avenue, Goshen, IN 46528

Phone: (574) 534-2502

Website: oldbagfactory.com

Olympia Candy Kitchen

The Olympia Candy Kitchen, “the sweetest little place in town,” has been welcoming visitors for almost a century in its unchanged location in downtown Goshen. Its tradition began in 1912 when Greek immigrant Nicholas Paflas began making his own hand-dipped chocolates and running the soda fountain.

From its humble beginning, the Olympia Candy Kitchen has remained a family business, passed down from generation to generation. And it still welcomes visitors with its old-world charm.

From the red and white awning to the original soda fountain complete with high swivel stools, Olympia Candy Kitchen is reminiscent of the days when the world revolved a little slower. Virtually unchanged for 75 years—since its conversion into a diner and candy shop—the dark polished wooden booths, soda fountain, and candy counter will take you back to an earlier time.

The downtown Historic District is an intriguing places to eat and shop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The downtown Historic District is an intriguing places to eat and shop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The candy counter is what made Olympia famous. Passing in and out of the diner, it is an attraction that is hard to walk by without at least a small purchase. It features seasonal selections, such as solid chocolate hearts at Valentine’s Day and Peanut Butter Eggs at Easter, as well as a large supply of candy that is sold throughout the year.

Among the most popular of the delicious confections and hand-dipped candies are the Turtles, which are made with their own home-made caramel, and Chocolate-Covered Cherries, so popular that they were served at the Inaugural Balls of both President Reagan and President Bush.

Address: 136 N. Main Street, Goshen, IN 46526

Phone: (574) 533-5040

Website: olympiacandykitchen.com

Please Note: This is Part 7 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

Our children are the only treasures we can take to heaven.
A sweater is a garment worn by a child when his mother feels chilly.
Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes”
If parents don’t train their children, the children will train the parents.
Good character like good soup is usually homemade.

—Amish quotes on Family

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