The Kokomo Common Council voted Monday to honor Norman Bridwell, author of the highly regarded “Clifford the Big Red Dog” children's books, by designating his childhood home, 1020 W. Jefferson St., an official historic site.
Bridwell, who passed away Dec. 12, 2014, was born Feb. 15, 1928, in Kokomo, and graduated from Kokomo High School in 1945. Following his graduation from Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Bridwell went on to create the classic character in 1963, eventually publishing more than 150 titles.
Despite his ultimate success, Bridwell’s Clifford manuscripts were turned down by nine publishers before he received his first, and final, offer from Scholastic, where he maintained a 50-year professional relationship. With Clifford’s global success, the titles now offer 129 million books in print in 13 languages.
The home’s current owner, David C. Sweezy, applied to the Historic Review Board for historic status. Following the application, board members chose to forward Sweezy’s request to the council, where it was unanimously approved.
The historic site designation will now accompany city signs recognizing Kokomo as Bridwell’s hometown.
“Bridwell is one of our favorite sons in Kokomo, and we thought this would be an honor for him,” said Kokomo Historic Review Board adviser Jim Hunter, who noted that plans for an unveiling ceremony are currently in the making. “It’s a shame he didn’t get to see this. His personal fame was so great that I think he deserves such an honor. His books are read by kids all over the world.”
Sweezy could not be reached for comment.