Located five miles north of Nashville, at the intersection of state roads 135 and 45, Bean Blossom is known worldwide for its long-running bluegrass festival at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park and Campground. Bill Monroe, a bluegrass legend and famed mandolin-picker, started the festival in 1967. The small community of Bean Blossom has other attractions, like the covered Bean Blossom Bridge, the Bean Blossom Blues Fest and BikerFest, that keep visitors visiting, but locals love the area for its scenic vistas, small-town quaintness and vibrant history.
Belmont is a little stop-in-the-road eight miles west of Nashville on State Road 46. This small community became the home of early artists T.C. and Selma Steele in 1907, when they bought 60 acres and build a studio and the House of the Singing Winds. At first, the couple used the property as a summer retreat, but made it their year-round residence in 1912. In 1945, Selma donated the property and her husband’s paintings to the state and the property became the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.
Cordry Sweetwater Lakes
The Cordry Sweetwater Lakes residential community flanking two reservoirs — Cordry Lake and Sweetwater Lake — rests in the northeastern part of Brown County and allows for easy commute to Indianapolis. Created in the 1960s after the Cordry and Sweetwater dams were completed, the Lakes community grew to a population of 1,128 people by 2010.
Gnaw Bone is an unincorporated community 3.4 miles east of Nashville on State Road 46. With the adoption of a regional sewer district in the early-2000s, residential and business development flourished and opportunities in Gnaw Bone grew. The community boasts a winery and distillery, many small businesses, churches, apartment complexes and several flea markets.
Helmsburg, an unincorporated community along State Road 45 in northwestern Brown County, flourished in the early-1900s after John Helms donated a large plot of land for a train station. With the railroad came a variety of businesses — a hardware store, blacksmith, livery, restaurant, garage, flower mill, post office, doctor’s office and a sawmill. Big city residents took the train into Brown County to spend the day or weekend, and the artists found seclusion and inspiration for their paintings. Many who came to enjoy the countryside decided to stay.
Helmsburg is served by one of three elementary schools in Brown County: Helmsburg Elementary, a Four-Star school serving 238 students in grades pre-kindergarten to fourth.
While visitors choose Nashville for its quaint boutiques and shops with unique, antique and original wares, residents choose Nashville and Brown County for a welcoming small-town lifestyle where their neighbors call them by name and stop to chat in the grocery store. This is a community where people help one another and look out for each other.
Nashville is the only incorporated town — population 803, according to the 2010 census — and county seat of Brown County. It rests at the intersection of state roads 46 and 135, conveniently located a 20-minute drive from Columbus and Bloomington and an hour’s drive south of Indianapolis.
Nashville has held onto its rustic feel, but evolved with the conveniences and necessities of modern life. Residents never need to leave the county to shop for groceries and sundries, to purchase clothing and gifts, to browse the hardware store or to enjoy fine dining at independent, locally owned restaurants. The community nurtures a community garden and many abundant flower gardens and embraces farmers’ markets. Buying local is encouraged and opportunity to do so is bountiful.
In 1851, Dr. George Story founded the unincorporated community of Story, which soon became one of the largest settlements in the area, supporting two general stores, a one-room schoolhouse, a grain mill, a nondenominational church, a saw mill, a slaughterhouse, a post office and a blacksmith’s forge. However, when the Great Depression hit, Story never quite recovered. Now, Story is just a stop on the windy, curvy State Road 135, where one will find a country inn and guest cottages. The big attraction in Story is The Blue Lady, an apparition with flowing white robes and a cheeky behavior, all documented in guest books and by employees since the 1970s. The inn has been popular with modern-day paranormal investigators.
Choosing to live in Brown County means you are choosing to live just a 20-minute drive to the culturally rich city of Bloomington and home of Indiana University to the west, and the architectural mecca of Columbus to the east. Drive just a little farther and you can take care of business in Indianapolis — an hour to the north — or Louisville, Kentucky — an hour-and-a-half to the south — but then drive back home to your serene, nature-surrounded home and hear birds chirping and see deer romping through your yard.