The house at 417 W. 6th Street served as a residence for the Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church decided to build a larger building, they sold the house to John and Matilda East.
John (aka Rouser, known for his climatic speeches, or big John) was born in 1845. Just old enough to enlist in the Civil War, he marched with William T. Sherman from Atlanta, Georgia, to the Atlantic Sea, coined as the most destructive campaign against the civilian population during the war. When John returned to Bloomington, he received his law degree in 1870 from Indiana University. Following graduation, he sparked a partnership with James Roger, an experienced lawyer. Democratic rallies were held at the house with the young Herman Wells in attendance. By 1891, John published the book, “Monon Express Robbery.”
July 7, 1906, was the last court day held in the old brick courthouse. John would live long enough to see the courthouse where he had spent his entire legal career be demolished. He passed away on April 25, 1907.
John’s son, William C. East, lived in the East House with his wife Lu Ella. William spotted the love of his life through a window while he was working at the former Wesner’s Grocery at Rogers and 6th Streets. Interestingly, years later, CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, purchased the property, demolished the store, and built The Fulk Building, which serves as commercial and residential apartment spaces. Lu Ella’s mother worked for the Lindley family as a cook in their home located at the northwest corner of 8th and Rogers Street, where the CFC-owned Cochran House resides.
The couple was married in 1888 inside the parlor of the East House. The parlor became the marrying room, and three succeeding generations were married there. The East family grave plots are located in the Rose Hill Cemetery.
The John R. East House was built in 1863 and was listed as a part of Bloomington’s West Side Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
For 30 years, the East House sat deteriorating until CFC Properties stepped in to restore it in 1999. CFC then sold the property on December 21, 2021.