Story & Photos By JD Dotson
The Dubois County Courthouse sits in the center of the town square. Built in 1910, the beautiful Renaissance Revival Style building is a centerpiece for the small town, where big things are happening. I had not explored JASPER since I was a kid and was so easily enamored of this tiny town and her people. Everyone I talked to was very friendly, hospitable and helpful with information or directions. I ﬁgured this spot would be the perfect place to begin.
517 Main St. | 812.566.1935 | www.astratheater.com
The town square is busy with shops that cater to a large group of people, men and women’s clothing, artists, home decor, children’s boutiques, restaurants, and ice cream. Sitting in one of the corners of the square is this beautiful old sign for the Astra Theater. The Astra is currently closed but there is a group of people working to restore this beauty and holding fundraisers and events in the building. I have an affinity for classic old signs and can’t wait to see this particular one lit up one day.
623 Main St. | 812.634.6017 | www.elementsjasper.com
Just off the square on Main Street sits the boutique Elements. The store is set up to explore; there are pathways and vignettes with everything from home decor to jewelry. Each section of the space was beautifully merchandised with rustic, vintage-inspired items. I found myself wanting to take entire sections home, not just individual pieces.
GEODE GROTTO AT THE PROVIDENCE HOME
520 W. Ninth St.
When I travel, I love finding odd and beautiful things off the beaten path. The case of the Geode Grotto is a perfect example of the oddly beautiful. Built by Father Phillip Ottavi in the 60s, along with a group of Providence Home residents, the grotto contains a really intricate and beautiful mosaic series of shrines, benches and lanterns made mostly from geodes, though bits of tile and stone from former buildings are also incorporated. Father Ottavi based his design on the Lourdes Grotto in France and the use of geodes, rough on the outside and beautiful on the inside, was thought to be a perfect representation of a man’s soul.
ST JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC CHURCH
1029 Kundek St. | 812.482.1805 | www.saintjosephjasper.org
The sight of St Joseph’s as you drive through Jasper is breathtaking. The church, which was founded in 1837, is a solid sandstone block building with a bell tower and steeple reaching toward the sky. Getting out of the car and standing at the base of this beautiful, massive building transports you to another place altogether.
JASPER GIFT BASKET & POPCORN COMPANY
1522 N. Newton St. | 812.634.2700 | www.jaspergiftbasketandpopcornco.com
If not for the 17-foot popcorn box in front of the building, I would’ve thought I was in the wrong spot. Walking in under the sign that says, “Pool Supply and Gift Basket Company,” I was guided to a little section I would like to call heaven on earth. I immediately started a pile on the counter. Strawberry Cheesecake Popcorn, Black Cherry and Caramel Popcorn and for the 1980s child in me, Nerds Popcorn with Nerds and Pop Rocks. I was surrounded by chocolate dipped Nutter Butters and candy coated Twinkies on a stick. There is every assortment of jams and jellies, salsas, butters, corn cob jelly, carrot cake butter, pickles, soups, pastas and all made more delicious by the fantastic people I met there that day. My diet may curse you, Jasper Gift Basket & Popcorn, but my sweet tooth thanks you profusely.
150 Third Ave.
I knew I would tear into half of the delicious popcorn I just bought on the ride home. Half of the reason I run is to not feel so guilty about what I am sure to put in my mouth. The Jasper Riverwalk stretches over two miles of paved path through woods, fields and along the Patoka River dotted with benches and picnic tables. I had a great, peaceful run accompanied by squirrels and my thoughts. Honestly, I thought of popcorn the whole time.
451 E. Fourth St. | 812.482.4255 | www.spiritofjasper.com
Just outside of the trail sits the Schaeffer Barn. Used for public or private events, but open for my exploration, the barnyard was quiet and meditative. There was a beautiful herb garden and flower garden featuring a sculpture by Zachary Dawkins titled, “She/We.” I imagine the gardens and barn make a beautiful backdrop for special occasions. Such a peaceful spot.
393 Third Ave. | 812.482.2640 | www.schnitzelbank.com
On the way out of town, I stopped by the Schnitzelbank for an early bite. The Schnitzelbank promises a bit of Olde World Germany in Southern Indiana, and they deliver on that promise. Instantly transported upon walking in the doors, I was greeted and sat in the dark, cozy dining room. I ordered the famous winner of the Super Bowl Sandwich contest: the brat on a pretzel bun with sauerkraut and mustard. Touchdown! I know nothing of sports or football, but I can get behind this super dish. It was a definite winner in my book.