Photos by Jeff Moerchen; introduction by Melissa Dinverno
Ligonier, located along the Elkhart River in Noble County in northeast Indiana, is of note for its historic murals, a 1920s filling station and the town clock, as well as an abundance of parks and walkways. (Incidentally, from the 1850s and on into mid-20th century, there was a notable Jewish population; the Ahavas Sholem Synagogue, which is now home to the Ligonier Historical Society, is one of the few surviving 19th century synagogues in the United States.)
But photographer Jeff Moerchen is not pushing tourism. One-third of Ligonier's current population is of Hispanic or Latino heritage, and his photographic essay provides passing glimpses of daily life through 70 black and white photography, with a focus on the town's bustling Hispanic community. The photographs are both complex and simple, with a sense of longing echoed by Melissa Dinverno's introduction.
While Dinverno's introduction speaks of the Hispanic culture in various phases of regeneration, the book doesn’t fully provide a sense of history — when, why and how did the Hispanic community come to Ligonier? Why do they stay? As a photographic record of a diverse small town struggling to survive, this book raises questions and creates conversation.