A rainbow flag with the symbol and word “PEACE” flies below the distinctive circle window, welcoming guests to a home now known for its inclusivity.
With almost 9,000 square feet and four large Corinthian columns on the double porch, the Charles Over Mansion is full of detail and history.
“The grandeur of its entranceway really takes your breath away,” said Jonathan Becker, the owner. “It draws you up as you come in, that two story sweeps, but because it's Victorian it's really a three-story opening.”
Today, the 116-year-old Colonial Revival brick mansion in the Emily Kimbrough Historic District functions as an Airbnb owned by Becker for four years.
First owned and inhabited by Charles Over, who owned the Over Glass Works in Muncie, the construction of the house was finished in 1903.
In the 1920s, the house was supposedly a regional headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan, but there is no concrete evidence, said to Chris Flook, president of the Delaware County Historical Society.
Becker also said the ballroom on the third floor was used as the ceremonial hall for the grand dragons, but since the 1970s, the house has been known for its inclusivity.
Over the years, many people have had a hand in keeping up this grand historic mansion.
“The restoration of this house — all of the artistic restoration in the stained glass, all the interior murals, the woodwork repairs, all of the real artistic integrity that's gone into the renaissance of this property — was done by the gay community here in Muncie,” Becker said.
Becker said he likes “the trajectory” of the house since the group of people who brought the property back to life are focused on inclusion and progressive thinking.
Home Away from Home
Turning a place of exclusion into a place of inclusion was one of the selling points for Josh Farrington, who learned about the home’s history through his encounters with Becker.
During his time as an assistant professor of philosophy at Ivy Tech Muncie from 2016 to 2017, Farrington stayed in the mansion two to four nights a week.
Farrington said he likes to start his work days as early as 6 a.m. and sometimes doesn’t leave the office until 9 p.m. He made the drive each day from Huntington to Muncie for about six weeks before realizing it was taking too much out of him.
After his brother recommended Airbnb, Farrington decided to make an account and look for a place to stay in Muncie.
“I came across Jonathan's, and I knew in a heartbeat that that place was for me,” Farrington said. “I just thought that this would just be paradise, and it was.”
After staying in the Charles Over Mansion two to four nights a week, Farrington said it soon became a second home.
“Indiana isn’t known for its diversity and whatnot, but number one, it felt like I was being transported back to an ideal place in time where you could relax,” Farrington said.
Besides the comforting atmosphere, Farrington said he found good conversation with his highly educated and approachable host, and his writing flourished.
“I did some of my best writing there,” Farrington said.
Making the Historic Home His
Since Becker purchased the home in 2015, he has worked to add his own personal touches.
He’s created detailed wall paintings, hung old photographs of his family’s history, decorated rooms with antique furniture from his childhood home and created a studio for himself in the ballroom.
Becker saw the home on a historic homes tour, and after he walked in, he noticed the place was staged for sale.
“My real estate agent who sold me my house on the west side came around the corner, and she's like ‘Oh, hi, Jonathan, there's a room upstairs you should see,’” Becker said.
After seeing the ballroom, his mind began spinning, and he decided to take the leap.
Now Becker is a full-time freelance theatre artist, with an Airbnb business on the side, which has a five-star rating on Airbnb.
“So, I’m booked often and quite solid,” Becker said.
Becker also said he has learned a lot from the time he first started hosting, and he now provided more amenities, like a coffee station in the dining room for guests.
In each room, Becker put a list of things to do in Muncie and restaurant listings — both prices and Becker’s favorites.
He has 193 reviews for the Rose Room, the highest number of reviews for an Airbnb in Muncie.
Farrington said he would describe the mansion as “meticulously clean.”
“I think [Jonathan] has three or four different clones of himself around,” Farrington said. “I haven't figured that out yet, but I will.”
Currently, Farrington is now a professor at Ivy Tech in Marion, but he said, “If I ever get back down to Ivy Tech Muncie, I know exactly where I’m going.”
Contact Mary Eber with comments at email@example.com.