The Caretaker’s Cottage West Lafayette Local History Center

1496 N. Salisbury St, West Lafayette

phone: 765-607-1207 | email:

Open Hours

Monday – Closed

Tuesday – Closed

Wednesday – Closed

Thursday – Closed

Friday – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Saturday – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Sunday – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Now accepting private tours by reservation.

Preserving Community History

For over a century, the Caretaker’s Cottage has watched West Lafayette grow into a busy, hi-tech town. Originally fronted by a wrought-iron fence set with matching stone pillars, the cemetery on Salisbury Street is a familiar landmark to many in the community. The cottage, built alongside in 1903 to house Grand View’s grounds laborer, is a window to the community’s past. Constructed of Bedford limestone and with unique terracotta roof tiles, the original design with the iconic double porches included no more than a 1-2 rooms and a root cellar. Generations of caretakers watched the nearby farms and barns come down one after another when West Lafayette began to rapidly develop after World War II. Where once there had been traction cars barreling along interurban tracks through nearby ravines, by the later twentieth century Grand View Cemetery was surrounded mostly by suburban families and by Happy Hollow Park.

This depiction of the back end of Happy Hollow from 1897 shows a ridge in the background where Grand View Cemetery approximately was. Originally posted by TCHA.

Grand View Cemetery changed ownership a few times over the years. Few records exist to tell us who exactly lived in the Cottage over the years before it was eventually placed on the Wabash Valley Trust for Historic Preservation’s Endangered List in 2017. The cemetery’s owner at that time was interested in selling the cottage, and the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission purchased the plot in April of that same year.

A local group called CHiPS (Community Historic Project Support) raised donations and support in the community, and worked with the Redevelopment Commission to plan renovation for the Cottage. West Lafayette Public Library’s Local History and Archive Collections began to collaborate to develop the newly-renovated space into a local history center, and work was finished on this project in December of 2023.

The structure had been well-worn from decades of use, and the floor had completely collapsed in some places. The root cellar was filled-in, and the inside was redone with ash interiors and inset windows. With the renovation project complete at the Caretaker’s Cottage, West Lafayette Public Library will open a seasonal exhibition and community history space.

Sharing Local History with the Community

West Lafayette Public Library will be working with community partners to develop exhibits and displays that highlight local history topics. The Cottage will be open seasonally from March to November, with a new rotation of exhibitions planned every year. Our helpful docents will be there to offer the community the opportunity to learn more about important community history subjects.

Current Exhibits

An Interpretive History of West Lafayette

The largest exhibition coming into Grand View Cottage this year, this will be a truly traditional exhibit designed for history lovers and curious community members alike.  Sourced mainly from the Archive Collections at West Lafayette Public Library, and with assistance from our friend at Tippecanoe County Historical Association, we hope to share a historic journey through the history of our riverside community’s past from the beginnings of trader settlement at Fort Ouiatenon to the modern, developed city that West Lafayette is today.

Chivalry in Shelbyville: Historical Thinking, 1898-2024

This exhibition is being developed by a class at the John Martinson Honors College at Purdue University under Dr. Kristina Bross. The focus is on Charles Major, a notable Hoosier author lost to the sands of time.  He wrote When Knighthood Was in Flower over a century ago, and Dr. Bross’s class aims to explore that novel with the aim to release a new edition of it in the future.

The Cottage Renovation Story

This area will be focused on telling the story of Grand View Cottage from start to finish, beginning with the construction of the building at the turn of the century up to the recent acquisition and renovation by the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission in 2017.  The Cottage story is a story that stands alongside the development of our community from a small town to the larger urban environment.  The level of community support from various partners helped to make this cottage dream a reality.

Upcoming Exhibits

Race and Housing in West Lafayette

Part of a years-long endeavor by Racial Reconciliation of Greater Lafayette, this exhibition is being developed along with a class at the John Martinson Honors College at Purdue University under Dr. Nathan Swanson. The center of the project highlights the historic use in West Lafayette property deed language of racial covenants that segregated local housing.

Looking out the Window at the Purdue Tank Scrap

coming summer 2024

Sports Heroes of West Lafayette: The Big-O Collection

coming Fall 2024