Paul Dresser Birthplace

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Paul Dresser Birthplace
Paul Dresser Birthplace.jpg
Front of the building
Paul Dresser Birthplace is located in Vigo County, Indiana
Paul Dresser Birthplace
Paul Dresser Birthplace is located in Indiana
Paul Dresser Birthplace
Paul Dresser Birthplace is located in the United States
Paul Dresser Birthplace
Location1st and Farrington Sts., Terre Haute, Indiana
Coordinates39°27′24″N 87°25′2″W / 39.45667°N 87.41722°W / 39.45667; -87.41722Coordinates: 39°27′24″N 87°25′2″W / 39.45667°N 87.41722°W / 39.45667; -87.41722
Arealess than one acre
NRHP reference #73000024[1]
Added to NRHPJanuary 22, 1973

The Paul Dresser Birthplace is located in Fairbanks Park in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana, at the corner of First and Farrington Streets.[2] Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the birthplace and boyhood home of Paul Dresser, a late-nineteenth-century singer, actor, and songwriter, who wrote and published more than 100 popular songs.[2][3] On March 14, 1913, the Indiana General Assembly named Dresser's hit, "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away", the state song of Indiana.[4]

Built in 1850, the home was owned by Dresser's parents, Johann Paul and Sarah (Schanab) Dreiser. Their son, Johann Paul Dreiser Jr., who later changed his name to Paul Dresser, was born in the house on April 22, 1858.[5] Dresser's father built the porch for the brick house, which originally consisted of one bedroom, a lean-to kitchen, and a parlor.[citation needed] In 1863 Dresser's father sold the home and moved the family to Sullivan, Indiana. By 1871 they had returned to Terre Haute, but Dresser did not stay in town for long.[6][7] Dresser left home at the age of sixteen and became "one of the most important composers of the 1890s".[3] Dresser toured the country as a vaudeville entertainer, then moved to New York City, where he was also involved in music publishing.[3] Dresser returned to Terre Haute only for brief visits and public performances.[8][9][10]

Originally, the house was located at 318 South Second Street in Terre Haute. During the 1960s, when urban renewal threatened its demolition, the Vigo County Historical Society raised funds purchase the building, saving it from destruction, and relocated it to the southeast corner of Fairbanks Park.[11] Altered over the years, the building consists of two floors. The first floor has a bedroom, a kitchen, and a parlor. The second floor has two bedrooms that are accessible by an outside staircase.[citation needed] The Vigo County Historical Society operates the home as a museum, open by appointment.[11][12] Artifacts pertaining to Dresser include a Chickering piano that he used to write songs and a portrait of Dresser painted during the height of his career.[citation needed] Unlike other house museums, Dresser's birthplace reflects the furnishings of a working-class family, not the well-to-do.[9][13]

In 1967 the Indiana General Assembly designated the home as a state shrine and memorial.[3] That same year the National Music Council listed it as "A Landmark of American Music".[3][9] The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[2] Terre Haute's Fairbanks Park also includes a local Girl Scout office and a Terre Haute parks department office.[citation needed] In 1923 the Banks-of-the-Wabash Association officially named Paul Dresser Drive, the park's main road, in the songwriter's honor.[3][9]



  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c "National Register of Historic Places State Listings". Washington, D.C.: National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Paul Dresser". Songwriters Hall of Fame Virtual Museum. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  4. ^ "Indiana State Song". Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2013-06-08. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  5. ^ Henderson, Clayton W. (2003). On the Banks of the Wabash: The Life and Music of Paul Dresser. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-87195-166-5.
  6. ^ Henderson, On the Banks of the Wabash, p. 9 and 23.
  7. ^ In addition to Terre Haute and the Sullivan area, Dresser lived for a brief time in Brazil, Indianapolis, and Evansville, Indiana. He also toured the United States as an entertainer and lived in New York City, where he died in 1906. See Henderson, On the Banks of the Wabash, p. 30, 34–35, 51, 70, 98,123, 143, 161, and 306–309.
  8. ^ Henderson, On the Banks of the Wabash, p. 121.
  9. ^ a b c d Paul Dresser - An American Composer. Vigo County Historical Society. Accessed January 8, 2009.[dead link]
  10. ^ "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 Dorothy J. Clark (April 1972). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Paul Dresser Birthplace" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-01.
  11. ^ a b Blondich, Kirsten (January–February 2004). "Landmark legacy of Hoosier musicians needs reinforcement" (PDF). Indiana Preservationist. Indianapolis: Indiana Landmarks (1): 9. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  12. ^ "Travels in Time: Hoosiers in the Arts" (PDF). USA Indiana Vigo County#Indiana#USApolis: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  13. ^ Gisler, Margaret (2004). Fun with the Family in Indiana. Fun with the family (5th ed.). Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-7627-2978-3.

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