Thought to have been built in 1900, the Queen Ann style house which is the home of the Rudicel Family Event Center has long been prominent in the life of North Vernon.
The first owners of the home were Lincoln and Kate Storey Dixon. Lincoln Dixon was born February 9, 1860, in Vernon, Indiana, the son of Samuel and Belinda Foster Dixon. Kate Storey was born October 8, 1861, the daughter of Smith William and Martha Wise Storey. Her father was a druggist and banker in Vernon, and a grandson of John Vawter, the founder of Vernon. They were married October 16, 1884, at the home of the bride’s parents.
Lincoln Dixon was an attorney, and had a long political career that included serving as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from 1905 to 1919.
The couple and their three children, Donald, Claire and Dorothy, attended North Vernon Presbyterian Church, where Mrs. Dixon was a member of the women’s group, The Guild. She was also a member of the Research Club, and often hosted club meetings at her home. An article in the November 10, 1910, North Vernon Plain Dealer states, in part, “The Research Club met last Friday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Kate Dixon… An elegant lunch was served by the hostess, who was assisted by her daughter, Miss Claire. The dining room was beautifully decorated in green smilax and golden cosmos, which are the club colors.”
At least one wedding has been held in the home, that of Dorothy Dixon and Charles Blair Richmond, who was president of the Kentucky Military Institute. The November 12, 1925, North Vernon Sun has an article telling of the elaborate wedding which had music by a soloist and harpist from Cincinnati, ushers in dress uniforms, the ring bearer wearing a suit of black velvet, and the bridal party descending the stairway. Numerous out of town guests were present. Two funeral services are known to have been conducted in the home: Lincoln Dixon in 1932, and his brother, Webster Dixon, in 1908.
Lincoln Dixon died September 16, 1932, at the home of his daughter in Lyndon, Kentucky. The funeral service was held at his home. Kate Storey Dixon died January 18, 1955, at a convalescent home in Louisville, Kentucky. Her funeral service was held at Dowd Funeral Home (now Dove-Sharp & Rudicel Funeral Home) next door to the home where she lived for so many years. Both are buried in Vernon Cemetery, as is their son, Donald, who died in 1943.
In January 1949, the home was sold by Kate Storey Dixon to Dr. Louis James Calli and his wife, Violet. Dr. Calli was born August 15, 1910, in Canastota, New York, the son of Salvatore and Rosa Vecchio Calli. Born December 23, 1911, in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Violet Calli was the daughter of Albert and Linnie Reed Beckett. The couple married November 26, 1932, in St. Louis.
Dr. Calli was a 1934 graduate of St. Louis Medical School. During World War II, he served as a captain in the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky. A physician for 65 years, he also owned and trained harness racing horses. He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in North Vernon. At the age of 15, he was crowned the Central New York tennis champion, and between the ages of 16 and 20, he played on a semi-professional baseball team.
Mrs. Calli was a homemaker and active in many charitable and civic organizations in the community. She was a Gray Lady at Muscatatuck State Developmental Center, was instrumental in founding the North Vernon Youth Center in the 1950s and volunteered with the Jennings Community Hospital Guild. She was a member of Delta Theta Tau sorority, Thursday Bridge Club, First Baptist Church and the Loyal Daughters Sunday School Class. In 1954, she was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the governor.
When Dr. and Mrs. Calli and their children, Samuel, Rosemary and Louis James, Jr., moved into the house it became not only their home, but also the office of Dr. Calli’s medical practice. It would be his office for the next 50 years. Countless people from Jennings County and the surrounding area depended on Dr. Calli for their medical needs.
In October 1976, the family shared their home by being a part of a home tour sponsored by the Alpha Omega chapter of Psi Iota Xi sorority. An article in the September 30, 1976, North Vernon Plain Dealer had this description: “This home is unique among those on the tour because of its structural irregularities and projections. The two back rooms were originally a smokehouse which was located in the back yard. Rooms on the three floors total sixteen, although the third floor is not presently in use. Visitors should note the leaded glass windows, parquet floors and tiled fireplaces. The Callis have worked for years to furnish their home completely with antiques. An unusual tiger maple four poster bed highlights one bedroom, Mrs. Calli’s grandfather’s cradle is a prized possession, and the front parlor features a beautiful Egyptian-Victorian divan.”
Violet Calli died June 11, 1995, in a traffic accident on Interstate 65 near Sellersburg. Her funeral service was held at First Baptist Church. Dr. Calli died March 14, 1999, at his home. The funeral service for him was at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Both are buried in Vernon Cemetery.
The house was next owned by Ken Neely before being purchased in 2012 by Gene Rudicel. He is a funeral director and owner, along with his son, Alden, of Dove-Sharp & Rudicel Funeral Home. With this purchase, the doors of the historic house are again open to welcome visitors, and is now the Rudicel Family Event Center.