I am immersed in the history of Fort Wayne, Indiana because the LaSalle Bed and Breakfast rents rooms in the old Sion Bass Family Home.
Clark Butler of The LaSalle Bed and Breakfast is a walking history book, his knowledge of Fort Wayne, Indiana is amazing. Rose-aimée Butler the wife of Clark lived many years in Africa, a native French speaking person, her accent is musical, this couple make learning history novel.
I lived in Fort Wayne approximately 17 years of my life, and went down "Bass Road," and presently I am living in the Sion Bass House at 517 W. Washington Blvd. Often travel is about connecting the dots, there is a type of understanding that cannot be learned only by reading.
Reading is great, but true understanding comes when you see, feel, hear, touch and smell a place. What does history smell like? What does it feel like?
Sion Bass and the Bass family left their mark on the city of Fort Wayne, and if you want, there are many links with information written about Sion Bass at the bottom of this page to read. However, again, I believe experience is more important than reading, and would recommend you come and see, touch, and smell this house yourself.
"509 W. Washington Blvd. (Colonel Sion Bass House)
Built c.1855, this brick Italianate house was owned by Colonel Sion Bass and his wife Eliza from c.1855 to 1878. Over the years, the house endured the addition and demolition of wings and porches, but the present appearance is very close to that when originally built. A wide cornice with bands of decorative moldings surround the house, and a band of dentils is punctuated by decorative scroll brackets that also surround the house. The bay window on the east side has a flat roof along with a cornice consisting of dentils and brackets. Shaped and carved limestone is used for some lintels and window sills, particularly on the front, while other window and door openings have brick segmental arches. Rubble stone makes up some portions of the foundation. The one-over-one double hung windows on the front, sides and in the east bay window are likely early replacement windows, but many of the original four-over-four double hung windows on the sides and back of the house remain. The front door is surrounded by decorative moldings and is topped by a transom while the two rear doors have segmental arches and transoms.
Sion S. Bass was born in 1827 near Salem, Kentucky. He came to Fort Wayne in 1848 or 1849, and first worked as a clerk for fur traders Ewing, Chute and Company. In 1853, he formed a successful iron works firm called Jones, Bass and Company with W.H. Jones and John Hough, Jr. The foundry and machine shops were located near the new Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad line. The manufacturing facility, which later would become the Pennsylvania Railroad Shops, was sold to the railroad in 1857. Sion and Jones then formed Jones and Bass and developed a new foundry and machine shop on the south side of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago line with access to the new Wabash Railroad line. In 1859, the new plant was purchased by the Fort Wayne Machine Works. In 1862, Sion’s brother, John H. Bass, became sole owner of the plant which eventually became the Bass Foundry and Machine Works, Fort Wayne’s largest factory and employer.
As the Civil War loomed, Sion became interested in politics. He helped to organize the 30th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers (“The Bloody Thirtieth”) at Camp Allen in Fort Wayne. He was elected Colonel and commanding officer in September of 1861, and by October of the same year, was in training in Indianapolis. His regiment marched through Kentucky and Tennessee until 1862. Sion was wounded while leading a charge at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. He was taken to Paducah, Kentucky for care, but died April 14, 1862. He is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne."