st to LaPorte, carrying
goods, passengers and tourists from the Chicago area.
Along the B & O Railroad that crossed through Liberty Twp. (which later
became the CSX), enterprise saw the formation of small towns and settlements
such as Crocker, Babcock, and LaHayn, but the best-known was Woodville,
which was located at the junction of these rail lines.
Consisting of no more than a dozen lots, Woodville was its own community in
the infancy of the 20th century featuring a fire house, a general store,
several small businesses, and a post office.
The village was incorporated for 40 years or so between 1880 and 1920 and
was abandoned permanently in 1939 after the Great Depression and the
national decline of rail service.
But the name Woodville has not faded from the memories of Liberty Twp.
residents Ed Seykowski, Tim Cole, Ed Gutt and others, who have formed The
Woodville Foundation. The Foundation became a registered 501(c)(4)
non-profit corporation as of September 2012.
The Foundation’s purpose is to promote growth and development in Liberty
Twp. and some of Jackson Twp., while maintaining the same character and
legacy that have made the area such a desirable place to live and visit,
even as changes to the landscape are on the way.
Seykowski, who is president of the Foundation, and Cole said what sets them
apart from other groups like the Liberty Landowners Association is that the
Woodville Foundation will not fight growth but rather look to partner with
developers finding some common goals so both parties can benefit.
“We want to be good neighbors and we would like to see developments who in
kind will be good neighbors to us,” said Cole.
“Instead of filing lawsuits, we will look for common objectives. That how
our organization will be different,” Seykowski said.
The Foundation is however against Liberty Twp. falling to the “urban sprawl”
seen in cities and towns in Lake County that has depleted the character of
those locations, Seykowski added.
Officials of Porter County Government and the Chesterton Town Council have
been eyeing ways to develop acres of unincorporated land between the
Chesterton and Valparaiso town limits, such as the Ind. 49 utility corridor
project, but the Foundation members claim many of those officials have not
made “a place for them at the table” although some have welcomed their
vision. By growing in membership, Cole said, the Foundation hopes to give a
voice to residents in dealing with the County or municipal governments.
A 501(c)(4) designates non-profit organizations who may inform the public of
civic matters for the common good of a community while, unlike 501(c)(3)
groups, maintaining the right to participate in or influence political
The Foundation has already been in contact with businesses in the area, such
as Porter Regional Hospital, Luke Oil, Family Express, St. Andrews
Development, and others, concerning potential partnerships. The hospital has
considered working on a history project with the group.
Seykowski and Cole said they would like to see “higher-end developments” in
the area that would enhance the culture and bring high-paying jobs. Cole
said an educational institution such as university building would be a good
example of this. He also would like to see neighborhoods not be fenced into
“separate little islands” but have infrastructure to connect them.
They also like the idea of building apartment complexes in place of Liberty
Twp.’s mobile home parks and new neighborhood developments similar to Fox
Chase Farms and Timberland Farms.
Seykowski said he hopes for safer ways that pedestrians and bicycles could
travel, such as a tunnel walkway running beneath U.S. 6 instead of having to
cross highway traffic. One goal he talked about is having a pedestrian trail
linking Chesterton High School with Valparaiso High School for safe transit.
The idea of placing placards on trails to tell Liberty Twp. history also
appeals to the group.
Another part of the mission is to preserve the community environment and
rural aspects working with the Damon Run Conservancy District. Cole said he
believes it’s becoming a national trend in communities to return to a “small
“We have a unique culture here. We want to preserve that and continue a
legacy,” he said.
Long term goals for the Foundation are including areas of neighboring
Jackson Twp. in its mission and possibly incorporating into a town of their
Liberty Twp. is already home to numerous attractions and amenities,
Seykowski said, such as two county parks (Sunset Hill Farm and Brookdale),
the historic 49’er Drive-In Theater, Mink Lake Golf Course, Liberty
Recreation ball fields, the Meadowbrook Nature Preserve, the Courts
recreational facility and the former Meadowbrook Girl Scout camp now used as
a nature preserve owned by the Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
Gutt said the hundreds of citizens who turned out to Porter County’s open
houses on the U.S. 6 corridor in 2011 have shown that they are interested in
An informational and fundraising meeting for community members interested in
getting behind the cause of the Woodville Foundation will take place, likely
in January. Locations and dates will soon be announced.
Community members who have already joined the effort include Jane
Walsh-Brown, and Herb and Charlotte Read.
Annual membership dues are $10 for individuals and $20 for families. Hats,
t-shirts, and mugs with the Woodville logo will be available for purchase.
To learn more about the Foundation, call (219)-462-3636 or email