Bill's crazy place: The most colorful spot in Indiana?


Bill Larkin is the most prolific house builder in the state. He has a 20- to 30-percent occupancy rate and what's more, he even gives them away if you come to visit.

Bill's Crazy Place is not an easy place to find or to explain.

"I am kind of obsessed I guess," Bill Larkin remarked while sitting under the shade of his back porch.

It is a rhythmic obsession that starts first thing in the morning. You can hear it before you see it and in this case, that is saying something.

"I was known as the flower man.  Now I think am just known as the crazy man," he admits.

Anywhere from five to six hours a day, everyday, this is where you will find Bill Larkin.  Sitting on his back deck hammering away at his arthritis.

"I asked the doctor should I quit doing so much and he said no.  If possible, do more," he stated flatly.

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Oh, it's possible.  It's quite possible that Bill, outside of ditching his medicine in favor of beer, may be the best patient a doctor could ever have.  On average he builds a thousand bird houses a year, which probably makes him the most prolific home builder in Indiana. His property is covered in bird houses, colorfully painted rocks, all manner of garden decorations - and it doesn't stop there.

Birds chatter ceaselessly. You almost wonder if that is applause for Bill? 

"Oh, you should hear it in April and May.  Oh my gosh, it is deafening," he remarks.

"Hello! You guys want to stop?  Hi, do you want to come in?" Larkin asks a car of curiosity-seekers that happens to slow down to take a look at his creation. 

"We do!" they exclaim.

The rest of us kind of like it, too.

"We came around the corner and I thought, oh my God," one lady says.

"Well, welcome to Bill's Crazy Place," Larkin greets them.

"How long did it take you do do this," Sandy Brown, one of the visitors, asks. "I started two days ago. I am a quick worker," Larkin jokes.

It's hard to tell who enjoys this more.  The visitors who are taking it all in for the first time or Bill, who shows it like it's the first time, every time.

"The colors themselves just grab you," Brown quips.

Bill says his geodesic house and the grounds that surround it has to be the most colorful place in Indiana and he admits, the weirdest.

"Four thousand bird houses and way over twenty thousand rocks.  Way over," Larkin says. Did he bring the rocks in himself? 

"Oh, heavens, yes. One rock at a time," he says, looking out over the thousands of rocks assembled and painted in his yard.  What were you thinking, I asked. 

"I don't know," he answers.

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"It's kind of hard. You see different things and then you see something else on the other side," a visitor exclaims.

And then, if you are lucky, with your mind already on sensory overload, Bill will invite you into his round home.

"Oh, my God.  This is better!" a visitor says as Larkin opens the door to his home and invites them in.

That's where the real show begins.

"There is a whole lot of crap in here.  Maybe two thousand bird houses, maybe ten thousand lights," he shares, gesturing to a room festooned with colorful lights.

"Just in this room, one visitor asks?  "Yes," he answers.

Just imagine walking into a geodesic Christmas snow globe you don't even have to shake to appreciate.

As I sit here and look up, I think it's got to be like when you are a little kid and you are lying down and looking up at the sky.We both rest in two recliners in his living room looking up at his creation on the ceiling.

"You would be surprised how many people come in here and lay on my dirty floor, just look and then they take their phone out and take a picture," he shares. I was already thinking about doing the same thing.

"You have the ultimate man cave here, don't you," I say.  

"I don't know about that," he retorts.

"You would never get away with this if you were married," I continue.  

"Ohhhh Lord no," he says.

"This is definitely a hidden treasure.  Yes, it is a hidden treasure.  Everybody should come here.  You will be totally amazed," two female visitors exclaim as they look out onto Larkin's backyard from his second floor balcony.

Some say he's amazing.  Others say he's crazy.

"You had to have been on drugs in college," I said.

"No, I didn't. I didn't even drink beer until I was a senior," Larkin rationalizes.

It is perplexing when you figure the man who has probably built more bird houses than anyone in America has a deep dark secret.

"I don't really care that much for birds.  Although I used to feed them in the wintertime," he admits.

It's hard to believe but there is yet another treat before you leave.  While the birds are busy picking out their birdhouse, every visitor gets to pick one out to take home with them as well.  

"He won't sell me any.  I want one of those and one of those," a visitors says as she selects a bird house to take home.

All are free of charge.

"I don't sell nothing.  Never did.  Well, thanks again, girls," Larkin tells his guests as he walks them to their car as if he is afraid he may never have another visitor.

Maybe that is why the birds are always singing at Crazy Bill's Place. 

Bill's place is about a mile-and-a-half north of St. Mary's Church in rural Loogootee.

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