The Colonel William Jones House, located in Gentryville, Indiana, was one of the first properties Bill and Gayle Cook, founders of Cook Medical, a global medical device manufacturing company, decided to preserve.
The house, Federal architecture, was built circa 1834 by Colonel William Jones and his wife, Rachel. Colonel William served in the Civil War and later as a Whig representative in the Indiana legislature from 1838 to 1841.
Abraham Lincoln lived near the Jones House from seven to 21 years of age. When William and Abe became friends, Abe spent time reading newspapers and books inside the Jones House. He also spent one night in the home in 1844 while campaigning for the presidential candidate, Henry Clay.
Colonel William once said…
“Lincoln would make a great man one of these days.”
Over a century later, Bill’s father’s cousin inherited a share of the property. In 1972 she reached out to Bill to see if they would have interest in purchasing and restoring the property.
Two years later, Bill had bypass surgery and was left with the thoughts of having to go into semi-retirement. With this in mind, he believed the Jones House would be a good project to be involved with that could also serve as a place to get away to on occasion.
Around the same time, the Cooks also decided to restore the Cochran House in Bloomington, Indiana. The two projects overlapped so much it was unclear which one was started first. The start of these ventures, along with some additional initiates, led to forming CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, in 1973.
Although the Jones House was made of solid brick, it had to be fully dismantled wall-by-wall and rebuilt. Back in the day, when brick was laid to be fired, the ones farthest from the fire didn’t harden as much as those closest to the fire. Thus, the softer bricks were placed next to the plaster, while the hard bricks were placed on the house’s exterior.
Over the years, the soft brick began to deteriorate. So much so that by the time the Pritchett Bros, a Bloomington contracting company, crew began working on the house, they wouldn’t press their ladders against the walls because they were concerned they would collapse. Sections of the house were removed and stored in a nearby barn until they could be rebuilt. The house is exactly the same as it was, only now it’s just more secure.
The restoration of the home was complete in 1976. Bill and Gayle later donated it to the State of Indiana. The Colonel William Jones State Historic Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.