One of my most favorite small cities in all of Indiana is Attica. If you are unfamiliar, Attica sits southeast of the Wabash River in northern Fountain County, about 40 minutes southwest of Lafayette and an hour and a half northwest of Indianapolis. Like many early Indiana communities, Attica is a river town. The Wabash River, arguably the most important waterway traversing the Hoosier state, historically connected Attica with Indiana’s larger population centers in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Terre Haute, Vincennes, and, ultimately, to big cities along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Attica was platted in 1825 as a small trading center along the Wabash River. In the early years, Attica was a sleepy hamlet. George Hollingsworth operated a ferry across the Wabash and Attica’s nascent downtown had a small inn, general store, and post office. In the 1830s, pioneers built several mills including a grist mill.
However, when the Wabash and Erie Canal arrived in the late 1840s, the community began to flourish economically. In 1849 Attica incorporated as a town and by 1866, Attica had become a city. The city grew throughout the remainder of the 19th century.
Attica is also near where Paul Dresser (probably) wrote Indiana’s state song, On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.
For me, the most charming feature of Attica is its downtown, which is nationally recognized as the Attica Downtown Historic District. Attica’s downtown contains fifty historic buildings that were built between 1840 and 1942. Some of the more prominent buildings including the 1935 Post Office, the 1840 McDonald House, and the 1870 Odd Fellows Building.
The district also includes the 1853 Revere Hotel. Unfortunately the hotel is now closed, but I had the opportunity to stay here in 2013.
It’s definitely historic and it’s most definitely haunted. Early this year, Indiana Landmark’s reported that the hotel had many famous guests over the years “including Bing Crosby, Bette Davis,” and Al Capone!
The hotel and the rest of downtown Attica were also listed in the Indiana Landmark’s 10 Most Endangered, “places we could lose unless we act.” One day, hopefully, the beautiful old buildings will be preserved and restored. Visiting Attica is one way to help.
The downtown also has several great eateries including Farley’s Corner Pub and Robie’s Restaurant and Bar. There’s even a Pizza King, which, let’s face it, would it even be a proper Indiana town without one?
There is also the Devon Theatre, a charming historic movie theatre still in operation!
For those interested in historic architecture and want to venture a bit further into town, Attica also has several other nationally recognized historic districts including the Attica Main Street Historic District, the Brady Street Historic District, and the Old East Historic District. The houses in these districts are beautifully preserved and are definitely fun to walk through.
Attica is definitely worth the trip and I recommend it for all Hoosier history buffs, historical architecture enthusiasts, and boosters of all things Indiana.