From train depot to home depot: living in history

By Vivian Sade

CHURUBUSCO — Jimmie and Beulah Allman, lifelong residents of Churubusco, reside in the 1950s-1960s train depot that was originally located on Main Street.

Jimmie, 89, is a 1945 graduate of Churubusco High School and Beulah, 85, is a 1949 graduate of Huntertown High School.


This photo, circa 1965, shows the westbound Pennsylvannia railroad RS-2 No. 4048 crossing Main Street in Churubusco on the former Vandalia Railroad Line. The post office is now located on this site.

“I grew up in the suburbs of Ari,” she said.

The Allmans bought the train depot in 1984 for $3,500.

“My dad had just died and we had to go to Fort Wayne and buy me a suit,” Jimmie said.

On their way to Fort Wayne, the Allmans stopped by the Magic Wand restaurant and ended up talking to the owner of the restaurant, Max Myers, who also sold real estate. Myers told them that the depot was for sale.

In short order the Allmans bought the house from Dick Zolman and moved into their new home in 1991. Prior to that, the Allmans lived in a subdivision on the west side of town.

Jimmie was employed for 46 years with his dad, Cecil, at Allman Body Shop in downtown Churubusco.

The couple set about renovating the depot, lowering the 10-foot high ceilings to 8-feet, Jimmie said. They also had to install a front door, since the structure had only a back door.


The resemblance between the back (east side) of Allman’s home and the old Churubusco Train Station depot is clearly evident in the placement of the windows. (photo by V. Sade)

Eventually, they added a loft, front entrance way, bedroom and garage.

Their Coal Street home was originally located on the former Vandalia Railroad which ran through Churubusco where the parking lot for Wilma’s Health Food Store and the Churubusco Post office is now located.

The early years

Jimmie was drafted and enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in May 1945 when he was 18. He served two years at Fort Riley, Kansas and was discharged in 1949. He then joined the Inactive Army Reserves, but fortunately, was not called back into active duty, he said.

He married Beulah on Oct. 9, 1949. They will celebrate their 67th anniversary this fall.

In July 1970, Jimmie was diagnosed with cancer in his jaw and had a hemimandibulectomy — the surgical removal of one lateral half of the mandible or jaw.


The Allmans added a front entrance, shown here, entryway, bedroom and a garage (at left) to the railroad depot building.(photo by V. Sade)

A prosthetic was surgically implanted in his jawline. Shortly after, while towing vehicles on the wrecker during severe cold weather, Jimmie inadvertently froze the skin that covered the prosthesis.

“I talked him into growing a beard and he has worn it ever since,” Beulah said.

Jimmie has remained cancer free for 45 years.

He has a heart issue currently, but brushes it off.

“I’m pretty fortunate,” he said.

He will be 90 on Jan. 2.

The Allmans have three children, Robin, Roger and Rex, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Roger, the retired CEO of a hospital in Madison, Indiana, recently moved back to his hometown and built a house on Mulberry Street, near his parents.


Beulah and Jimmie Allman are shown on their back porch greeting the mail carrier. (photo by USPS)

Rex is a doctor in Winamac and Robin, who died unexpectedly in 1998 at the age of 43, was a school librarian in Fishers.

“Those were two big blows that life threw our way,” Beulah said. “Jimmie’s cancer and Robin’s death.”

In her late 20s, Beulah was president of the Churubusco Kindergarten Association when the kindergarten teacher resigned. At that time kindergarten was an optional program and the teacher did not have to have a teaching degree.

Beulah stepped up and taught kindergarten for five years until kindergarten attendance was mandated by the state.

“Since I did not have a teaching degree I could no longer teach,” she said.


The living room with an overhead loft leads into the original structure of the depot which includes a kitchen, utility room, bathroom and back porch. (photo by V. Sade)

Jimmie talked his wife into going back to college and pursuing a degree.

“It took me six years to finish (college),” she said. “I was 37 when I got my degree and began to teach sixth grade at Churubusco Schools.”

She retired from teaching in 1990. After retiring, she worked as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteer for abused and neglected children in Whitley County for 20 years.

The Allmans enjoy spending time with family and friends and are active members of the Churubusco United Methodist Church.


This piece of artwork was made by one of Beulah’s former sixth grade students years ago and hangs in the Allman’s living room. (photo by V. Sade)


Beulah Allman is shown in front of an antique oak curio which was used at Floyd’s Auto Sales in Churubusco. To the left is Allman’s sewing area (not shown), where she still uses her original 1949 Singer sewing machine. (photo by V. Sade)


Beulah and Jimmie Allman added the entryway, left, and bedroom, right, onto the original structure of their home. (photo by V. Sade)



Jimmie and Beulah Allman bought their home — old Churubusco train depot — in 1984 for $3,500. (photo by V. Sade)


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