General Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur, is seen in this image in his reclining chair along with his writing board. It was in exactly this fashion that he wrote a bit of the world famous novel under his beech trees. This picture of the General was taken in front of the fireplace of his study. Wallace very carefully designed this unique building and oversaw every detail of its construction. I understand that, even down to the exact color of the bricks, every aspect of his study was the subject of his intense scrutiny.
Dreaming of this project while Governor of New Mexico in 1879 Wallace wrote to his wife Susan Elston Wallace, ““I want a study, a pleasure-house for my soul, where no one could hear me make speeches to myself, and play the violin at midnight if I chose. A detached room away from the world and its worries. A place for my old age to rest in and grow reminiscent, fighting the battles of youth over again.” The dream lingered and sixteen years later, when Wallace returned from his post as Minister to Turkey, the construction began. It was here that Wallace spent the last of his days, reading, writing, painting, playing his violin and entertaining the occasional guest.
Though Wallace attended Wabash very briefly, he always considered himself an alumnus of the College. He enjoyed the student pranks, sent his son here and attended college events. He is listed on the Civil War memorial on the east side of Center Hall. In fact, he spoke at the dedication ceremonies.
Lew Wallace is an excellent example of the broad interests of a Wabash man and also of the value of lifelong learning. The Study is full of items that show this commitment to knowledge. It is a very nice place to visit while here in Crawfordsville, Indiana.Best, Beth Swift Archivist Wabash College