Redkey is a cute little town nestled at the crossroads of Highway 1 and Indiana State Road 67 in Jay County, Indiana.
The area was originally known as the Wade Settlement, after the family of Josiah Wade, who settled there in 1836. His son William Harrison Wade platted a village there in 1854, which he called Mt. Vernon. James Redkey platted his addition in 1856, but when application was made for a government post office, the name Mt. Vernon was already taken, so the name of Redkey was chosen. Redkey was incorporated in 1883. Redkey, Indiana, was situated in the largest natural gas field in the world at the time.
The Redkey Volunteer Fire Department is in a beautiful 113 year old building.
The Key Palace Theater first received national attention in the 1950s, Noble, a Muncie native, brought in numerous blues artists over the years, making the Key Palace Theater a major destination for fans of blues music. The theater closed down after Noble’s death, but has since reopened.
Once Redkey’s claim to fame, Shambarger’s world-famous restaurant is but a memory!
Famous in the 1960's and 70's, Shambarger's originally opened in the 1920s.
It cost $65.15 per person (not including gratuity). The meal consisted of 13 courses and took 7 hours to eat. The meal started at 6:00 pm and they cut the “mile-high” strawberry pie (it was 15″ tall) at midnight.
Reservations had to be booked at least a year in advance. The place would comfortably seat about 50, but they would pack in 100 people every Friday and Saturday night. People came to Redkey in buses and motor homes to eat at Shambargers. Celebrities and politicians came as well.
Everything in the building was antique, from the furnishings to the dishes you ate from. And everything had a price tag on it. You could buy your plate and take it home for a souvenir.
The restaurant was only a few feet from the railroad track and every night at the same time, a train came by like clockwork. Everybody would run outside and put pennies on the track for a keepsake.
Redkey served as a stopping point along the Columbus, Chicago, and Indiana Central Railroad in the decades after the Civil War. However, with the discovery of natural gas in the 1880s, the community exploded both in terms of population, industry, and businesses. The town grew from approximately 386 residents in 1880 to over 2,200 in 1900!
Today, the little village of Redkey still maintains a local tradition with bars, restaurants, and several antique shops .
The architecture in Reddkey is significant. The historic district includes many different structures, that feature Italianate, Romanesque Revival, and Classical Revival architectural styles.
The old signs and advertisements from Gold Medal Flour to Mail Pouch Tobacco adorn the sides of buildings, making a walk through Redkey a journey back in time.
From antique shopping, to pizza, history, and festivals – Redkey is a perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon!