|Bendix Woods County Park|
Aerial photo of the track
|Location||Olive Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana|
|Area||195 acres (0.79 km2)|
|Operated by||St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Department|
|Open||All year; Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day|
Studebaker Clubhouse and Tree Sign
Studebaker "D" in Bendix Woods Park, November 2013
|Location||32132 State Road 2, south of New Carlisle, Olive Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana|
|Area||21.1 acres (8.5 ha)|
|Architect||Young, Ernest W.|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival|
|NRHP reference #||85002430|
|Added to NRHP||September 18, 1985|
Bendix Woods County Park is the name of a park located in Olive Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana, south of New Carlisle. The park is under the control of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Department.
The name Bendix Woods originates from the Bendix Corporation which donated the land to the county for the creation of a park. The park's historical significance, however, dates to its establishment by the Studebaker Corporation, formerly of nearby South Bend, Indiana as the first model test facility for an American automobile company.
Studebaker developed the 840 acres (3.4 km2) of land in 1926 as the first-ever controlled automotive-testing grounds for its product lines, beating Packard, Studebaker's future business partner, by one year. Studebaker heavily promoted the grounds as a "Million Dollar Outdoor Testing Laboratory" in advertisements. The test track that ran through the grounds simulated a variety of terrains and road conditions. Studebaker landscaped the park by keeping natural features.
Following the collapse of Studebaker's U.S. production facilities in 1963, the land was acquired by Bendix Corporation which used the grounds for corporate purposes. In 1996 Bosch purchased the property; in 2015 Navistar acquired it from Bosch and renamed it "Navistar Proving Grounds".
The Studebaker Clubhouse is a historic clubhouse. It was built in 1926, and is a two-story, "U"-shaped, Colonial Revival style brick building. The front facade features a one-story frame porch supported by Tuscan order columns. The building was remodeled in 1947, 1961, and 1966-1967. It was built as a place for the approximately 100 proving ground employees to eat, relax in off hours, stay in bad weather, and board if they so desired. It currently houses the parks Nature Center and offices.
In late December 2004, the "STUDEBAKER" tree planting, recognized as one of the world's largest living advertisements and on the National Register of Historic Places, was severely damaged in a Christmas week ice storm. However, it continues to stand; in 2011 a grant was awarded for its long-term management and preservation, and a management plan was completed in 2012. Dead and diseased trees were removed in 2013 and 2014, and volunteers planted replacement saplings between April 15 and April 19, 2015.
- "Parks Hours, Closed Dates & Fees". St. Joseph County Parks Department. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
All County Parks are closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Navistar Opens Proving Grounds In New Carlisle, Indiana" (Press release). Navistar. 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
- "Navistar buys former Studebaker test track". South Bend Tribune. 2015-05-21. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
- "Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)" (Searchable database). Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-07-01. Note: This includes Elizabeth A. Straw (February 1984). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Studebaker Clubhouse and Tree Sign" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-01.
- Quinn, Richard (2000-09-10). "Growing 'Sign' Made Studebaker's Presence Known". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
- Fosmoe, Margaret (2011-11-07). "Grant to Help Studebaker Pine Tree Sign". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- Gray, Amanda (2013-08-03). "A Piece of Living History". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- , Steve (18 September 2015). "White Pine Fever: The Studebaker Tree Sign". Web Ecoist. Momtastic. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
A devastating ice storm in December of 2004 severely damaged many of the trees though reports of the sign’s deterioration seem to have sparked renewed interest in its preservation.
- "Community Briefs: Studebaker sign planting this week". South Bend Tribune. 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
- Stang, Stephanie; Kusz, Brandon (2015-04-15). "Volunteers work to save sprawling Studebaker tree sign". WNDU-TV. Retrieved 2015-09-28.
Efforts continue to save what's been called the world's longest-living outdoor sign. On Wednesday, volunteers gathered to plant more trees in an effort to restore the Studebaker tree sign at Bendix Woods County Park.
- Bendix Woods County Park (St. Joseph County Parks Department)