to preserve, protect and promote the history of 
Switzerland County, Indiana
Switzerland County Historical Society
 208 E. Market St.
Vevay, In. 47043


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copyright 2011 Switzerland County Historical Society
HomeCounty HistoryRiver HistoryAgriculture CenterReading RoomBook StoreEvents

Benefits of membership include:

Yearbook & Newsletters
Monthly Programs
Annual Picnic
Free Admission
Gift Shop Discount
Volunteer Opportunities & More

Museum Hours
Daily Noon to 4:00 PM
Switzerland County Historical Society 
Agriculture Museum Center
​On completion, our Agriculture Museum Center will offer visitors an educational visit to the mid 19th century home of Justi and Mary Banta Thiebaud. A capital campaign stimulated by a Jeffris Family Foundation challenge grant was met by generous contributions from local foundations, organizations and individuals and has moved the project forward. A beautiful restoration of the 1850s Greek Revival home of Justi and Mary Thiebaud is complete.

Justi was the youngest son of Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud who emigrated from Switzerland with their family in 1817. The elder Thiebauds were part of the early group of Swiss settlers to Switzerland County and acquainted with John DuFour, founder of Vevay. It is unclear if the Thiebauds participated in DuFour’s vision of establishing the art of viticulture (growing of wine grapes) in the United States but some terracing work evident on the site indicates this may have been the case. By the late 1840s however viticulture had died out in Switzerland County and the Thiebauds were active participants in southeast Indiana’s hay culture. The Thiebaud farm was likely the site of a river landing. This facilitated loading and shipping of the 300 – 400 pound hay bales created in the farm’s Mormon hay press to markets along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. 
Hay Press Sketch & The Society Hay Press
What later became known as the Mormon hay press is a three story animal-powered machine invented in Switzerland County in 1843 by Allensville resident Samuel Hewitt. Powered by horses or mules, the machine used a pulley system to turn a massive iron screw, pressing the large bales. Once numbering over 200, there are only four remaining hay press barns in Switzerland County. 

Having once had a press and with many other aspects representative of our early agricultural and entrepreneurial heritage, the Thiebaud property was a natural choice for restoration of the press. On hearing of our plans, the property, owned at the time by the Dow Corning Corporation was donated to the society for the project.

Our agriculture project encompasses the house, smokehouse, granary, gardens, an interpretive center and museum as well a restored hay press barn.

*The Agriculture Museum Center is currently not open to the public
1843 sketch presented to the US Patent Office by Samuel Hewitt along with our own press as it is being moved to storage for safe keeping.
Thiebaud porch: A "before"  look at the Thiebaud front porch, ready for restoration!
The "after" version of the porch was made possible by a grant from the Vevay Switzerland County Foundation.
Historic Paint Finishes Specialist Matthew Mosca gathered samples from all painted surfaces at the Thiebaud house, and has prepared an in-depth report that will guide our restoration.
This view from the Thiebaud kitchen will change, as the doorway opening will be restored back to being a window.
We were privileged to have interns from IUPUI under the leadership of Dr. Phillip Scarpino spend a day on projects at the Thiebaud house.
IUPUI interns stripped wallpaper and carefully recorded and analyzed the various samples.
Wallpapered siding: Removal of drywall revealed a porch had been enclosed and the clapboard siding had been wallpapered for years prior to being drywalled. The enclosed area is being restored back to an open porch.
A former cellar entrance has been discovered, which will be reopened.
Vinyl siding was removed, revealing the structure of the house. This is the back of the fireplace in the east parlor.
This is the multi-talented Erjo Construction crew who is doing the Thiebaud house restoration.
Click an image below to begin a slide show of the project
We would like to thank the many partners, volunteers and contributors to the Agriculture Museum Center. The Dow Corning Corporation whose gift of the Thiebaud property made the project a reality. The JEFFRIS FAMILY FOUNDATION whose challenge grant jump started the restoration, the generosity of the PAUL OGLE FOUNDATION, Switzerland County Council, THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF SWITZERLAND COUNTY, the Vevay Switzerland County Foundation, THE SWITZERLAND COUNTY RECREATION, CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU, and the many individual contributions of time, work and money by our members and friends.