Home World Old Sheriff’s Residence starts new phase in downtown Valpo

Old Sheriff’s Residence starts new phase in downtown Valpo


The old Sheriff’s Residence in downtown Valparaiso entered a new phase this month with the opening of Market 102, a collection of artisan goods and vintage wares offered on the first floor of the historic building.

Built in 1860, the house at 153 Franklin St. is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Co-owners Lori Olson, of Crown Point, and husband and wife Scott and Robin Leslie, of Cedar Lake, agree their search for a location ended as soon as they set eyes on the structure that has graceful curb appeal. “We had gone to several other towns and we were like, ‘This is the one. This is the place,’” said Olson.

“It was definitely the building,” she added. “A lot of people, when they walk in the doors, their first sound is, ‘Wow!’ They’re in awe of it.”

A trim lawn leads to a hydrangea hedge that frames the house’s Indiana Avenue front door. Two stories of brick lead the eye up to a round attic window set beneath its arch along the Italianate roofline.

After patrons get their architectural fix they can enjoy the sweet scents that now fill the air since the house’s last gig as the Porter County Museum. Goat milk and whipped soaps that look good enough to eat fill shelves next to jewelry, pillows, incense and handbags. There are also car diffusers, candy, children’s clothing, live plants and sea glass art.

A retro romp among six vintage vendors takes visitors from the 1950s through the 1990s. At The Retro Rose, mirror balls, neon signs, and hot pink and orange fill a former closet to bursting. “Her personality is what you see in her room,” Olson said of the vendor. “She’s just cheerful and sweet and all around a great person.”

Around the corner in what may originally have been a butler’s pantry, Scott Leslie has set up an homme homage. Whiskey stones, cocktail mixers, men’s clothing and the on-trend bourbon worship pack it in.

Market 102 co-owner Lori Olson poses in the shop's new home, the old Porter County Sheriff's House, on Friday, May 24, 2024. (Shelley Jones/for Post-Tribune)
Market 102 co-owner Lori Olson poses in the shop’s new home, the old Porter County Sheriff’s House, on Friday. (Shelley Jones/for Post-Tribune)

“If you can’t find something in there, you haven’t looked hard enough,” said Robin Leslie of the shop. She tells of a recent customer who found gifts for every occasion this summer from a baby shower to a birthday.

She and her partners had previous experience at an antique store in Crown Point and decided to venture out on their own. They wanted to bring together the kinds of vendors and artisans people travel to summer markets to find.

“We wanted to provide a place to artisans and find a place for their goods year-round,” Leslie said. “I thought it would be much easier for them to have a place to show their stuff and spend time with their families on the weekends.”

The Sheriff’s Residence is being leased as a way for the county to earn some income on the venue. The current two-year lease was the longest the Board of Commissioners could enter into. Without Porter County Council approval, the Commissioners may only make up to $25,000 per year on the lease, for up to three years.

The Council didn’t get behind the plan because the majority of that body was in favor of connecting the Sheriff’s Residence to the Memorial Opera House next door via a modern glass and metal addition that was scuttled by Board of Commissioners President Jim Biggs, R-North, and Commissioners Vice President Barb Regnitz, R-Center. Even after that project was shot down Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, had wanted to use the house as offices for the MOH staff.

An arrangement was made for the Board of Commissioners to take out a loan of $120,000 from the Redevelopment Commission for necessary repairs and renovations to the Sheriff’s Residence to be repaid with income from the lease.

“I was the only one who had confidence that we could pull something off,” Regnitz said of the plan.

If you go: Market 102 is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday; from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Shelley Jones is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune

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