Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

CMA Riding Hall  

CMA Riding Hall  
1897 - Part of the Black Horse Troop first appeared in the Inaugural parade for President McKinnely he was first elected in 1896. The photo is the 80 horse honor guard of the 1 stCleveland Calvary Troop A as in appeared in the Inaugural parade.
In this "West Point' of the west is one of the large riding halls of the world. The plans for this structure were drawn for
the largest and most complete building of the kind in America. it was completed in 1898, and is built of stone,brick, steel and slate. The hall is 104 feeet wide and 212 feet long, the poderous girders reaching a span of 104 feet, leasving the whole interior of the ground floor a mammoth amphitheater, suffcient to maneuver 60 horses. The dome of the arched roof is 50 feet above the floor, and the tower of the building rises to 100 feet above the lake, furnishing a delightful view of the lake and surrounding country. - Lake Maxinkuckee Art Annual 1905

1897 Oct 29 - MAGNIFICENT


To be Erected at Culver Park by Mrs H. H. Culver and Sons.

Which Will be a Cavalry Riding Hall, Stables,Barracks and Chapel. All to be Absolutely Fire Proof

Greatly to be praised in Culver City, is the name of H. H. Culver. But no less is the spirit of public benefaction, the ruling spirit of Mrs. Culver and sons, as now being manifested in them by the construction of the largest buildiug of the kind im the United States, viz., a calavary riding hall, 210x104 feet with dome 76 feet, the material to be brick and steel, making the building absolutely fire proof. In the mammoth buildiug, there will be a balcony which will seat 1000 people, with separate balcony for the orchestra.

They are to put up a large and handsome chapel, also new barracks and separate stables for the horses. All these buildings are to be of the latest design and modern improvements for beauty, strength, safety and utility. Beautiful for situation, the pride of the whole community, and useful to man will be these contributions at the hands of these enterprising people. As we have heard, so we have seeu the city of Culver grow since the day our late departed benefactor opened his purse and applied its contents, aud his brain and energy in his great plan of improvements. His precepts and example, his goodness and kindness, his benevolence and enterprise for individua aud public advancement, in spirit, is being followed by his wife and sons, and added to the already extensive improvements will be these herein mentioned. So well might the citi zens of Culver hail the day and honor tbe name that has and continues to shed luster to the glorv of Culver City.

The Decemeber 10, 1897 issue of the Culver herald - :
The New Riding; Hall,
The Largest in the world

The Magnificent Structure Now in Course of Erection. It will be a "Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever"
    When the great riding hall building at Culver Park is completed, it will the largest building of its kind in the world, aud will be another monument in memory of the founder of Culver Military academy, the late H. H. Culver, who had expressed his determination to erect such a building several months before his demise.

    The foundation for the great structure is completed, and layimg of brick commenced this week. As has already been slated in the columns of the Herald the dimensions of thebuildiug will be 212x104 with seventy-six foot dome.

    The second story will have a 5000 seating capacity with separate balcouy for orchestra. The lower story will be used for riding hall and is large enough for playing base ball, football or any other athletic games. It is said that the building will be ready for occupaucy in about 90 days.

    It will be absolutely fire the material being stone, iron and steel. When this mammoth amphitheatre is dedicated, it is predicted that it will be one of the greatest social events ever chronicled in Marshall couuty, as thousands of notables from abroad are expected to be present and participate in the wonderful festivities. We understand a fine chapel will be erected in the spring, also a new annex to the academy. When these are completed, and the flowers bloom, Culver Park will be resplendent in its dazzling beauty. So let the good work go on and on until the Culver military school is second to none in existence

The orginial Riding hall was built in 1898. The hall was the largest of its kind in America. The hall was 104 feet wide and 212 feet long; a mommoth amphitheater, sufficient to manuever 60 horses. The dome of the arched roof towered to 60 feet above the floor. The tower raised 100 feet above the lake providing a unique picturesque view of the countryside. It was erected at a cost of $50,000.

1916 - October 22 the riding hall burnt that housed the Black Horse Troop and 66 of the horses died in that fire [another account has 1915 and that 80 horse died].

Plans were announced for construction of a new 104 by 212 Riding Hall to house 136 mounts. Albert Knell was the artitecht who designed the building.
1898 - Jan 7 Logansport Pharos Tribune :
    Work on tbe Big Driving Hall Going Rapidly Forward.

    Mr. C. E. Marshall was at Maxlnkackee yesterday, and reports that tbe big driving hall at Culver academy is going forward rapidly. The contractors, John E. Barnes & Son have the brick walls up to the point where the heavy iron girders and slate roof, weighing eighty tons, are to rest. The driving hall is the largest in the United States, and will be used for horseback practice, foot ball and other athletic sports. The cost is $117,000.

At the same time Albert Knell also designed the new Arsenal and its construction began in 1916.

The trustees decided to center both buildings to the east and northeast of the Academy Hospital and convert the old Riding Hall into a Recreation Building. The site was to low and to unstable for foundations for the Arsenal and Riding Hall - thus began the massive fill of the area with dirt for the area now occupied the Woodcraft; when completed the grade had been raised 14 feet.

The Rochester Bridge and Structural Steel Co., has secured the contract for furnishing the steel to be used in the building of Culver Military Academy's new $100,000 riding hall, to be built soon. The job embraces 250 tons and is worth about $15,000 to the local company. The building will have a clear riding space of 92x327 feet, with stables attached. The steel work will be unique in several respects. Rochester Sentinel, Thursday, January 27, 1916

1917 the Riding Hall was dedicated and the lake front side of the riding hall was terraced and outfitted with reviewing stands for athelic event and military reviews.


Culver, Ind., Aug. 27. - With the first stage of the $165,000 building project at the Culver Military Academy due to be completed and ready for occupancy by the Black Horse Troup on Sept. 8, work at the Academy has been stepped up during the last few weeks and 24-hour shifts are rushing the work to its completion... - - The News-Sentinel, Friday, August 27, 1937
The floor of the arena was origninaly clay hardpan with a layer of tan bark that was almost a foot thick

The blacksmith's shop was originally housed in the riding hall at the east end with fire doors and the forge was vented by a chimney hidden by one of the parapets. The late 1940's saw the shop moved into th Armory and the area thus became a sick bay and veterinary room.

The 1950's the arena floor being totally sand that had to be changed yearly and required over fifteen tons of sand to obtain a six inch layer of riding surface.

During the tenure of Col. Kitt (1948-1952) the mirror on the south wall of the arena was installed allowing the riders to watch themselves and their horses in action

The late 1967 saw fundung began for renovation and repairs and 1970 saw the completion in that the locker room and gang showers were replaced by staff offices, a central hall, restrooms and the Black Horse Troop Lounge. The coal furances were replaced with overhead natural gas heaters. The over hang on the north of the stable was removed during the consnutruction of the lounge in in the ensuing years would cause major structural damage because of it.

The overhang was replaced with wood and plastic to form tents over the stall area to keep the horses dry.

The 1970's saw rubber mats addd to the conrete floor stalls for the comfort of the horses.

The 1980 saw the overhead gas heaters replaced with a thermo-cycler furance in each corner.

1980-1981 saw the 132 stalls being replaced with all in house labor - the blacksmith done the iron work; 11 red oak trees were cut from the bird sanctuary and the lumber was milled by a Plymouth sawmill.

In 1982 the Vaughn family pledge money toward the towards a matching grant for the building but because of detiorating condition of the roof and stable overhang they released a sum of it in 1985 for repairs and a new precast concrete roof and an over hang beyonf the north wall. Also a new ventilation system , stable lighting, a sprinkler system and a few other ameities.

2009 saw the dedication of the renovation of the "riding hall" this included a creation of nintey-four box stalls, a veterinarian area, three tack rooms, a farrier's area, parade room, new locker rooms, storage room, break room and shavings area - the stable was dedicated as the Robert C. Vaughn Stable (Vaughn Equestrian Center).
The riding hall receieved a complete make over that included new lighting, seating gallery renovation, new windows that were energy-efficient and an elevator and was dedicated as the Jud Little Riding Hall.
  • new innovative mats - with inner precision memory foam
  • new finger latches, eliminates protruding parts and helps prevent injury to the horse
  • horse can see across the aisles but are not able to see the next door horses or touch their noses
  • patterned rubber brick line the aisles with pinholes in the rubber to allow the moisture to pass to drains belowo them
  • non porous selad mats allow urine not to seep through and can be removind immediately
  • Higherand bigger ceiling fans allowing more air flow and exhaust fans pulling the air upward to cut down on odor
  • automatic watered with deep bowls that refresh often and computerized system to track each horses drinking pattern
  • a new horseshoeing facility within the stable
  • Veterinary room - where the veterinarian can drive his truck in and shut the doors, camera to watch horses at a distance, stocks to hold a nervous horse for saftey of personel

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