Month: April 2011

One for the Gents: President Harrison’s Top Hat

From Jennifer Capps at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site(formerly known as Benjamin Harrison Home) comes this interesting exhibit of one of President Harrison’s top hats. The picture above shows Benjamin Harrison’s silk top hat and leather carrying case. The case is padded with red satin and has leather straps. Inside the hat reads: “Extra Quality / mark or symbol with birds and shield with words Registered and Moveo Proficio in ribbon areas / Knox / New York / When Clo. Co., Indianapolis.” The hat was donated to the museum in 1945 by Harrison’s son-in-law James Robert (JR) McKee. As...

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Then and Now: Court Street and Anthony’s Tavern, 128-134 E. Court Street

Court Street is one of those funny downtown alleys that somehow became a street. The short street runs east and west between Market and Washington Streets in the downtown area. An oft-told tale has it that taverns and saloons were prohibited from operating in Indianapolis alleys, so the easy work-around was to reclassify some of the alleys as streets. Sounds feasible, but does anyone have a source for this tidbit or is this just folklore? The view shown here hints at the thriving street life somewhat hidden from view. This stretch of the 100 block of East Court Street...

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WTH Weds: the Importance of Windows

Today’s What the H*ll highlights why historic windows are an important piece of a structure, and why they are on Indiana Landmarks’ Endangered List. I think the photos speak for themselves. The building is located in Herron-Morton Place… P.S. It also is an illustration of why a front door is important to both the house itself and presenting a friendly neighborhood streetscape. You really have to look to find the entrance in these photos....

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Building Language: False Half-Timbered

False Half-timbered This apartment building in the 400 block of 13th Street displays false half-timbered exterior walls. In England, France, Germany and other areas where houses were built with true half-timbers in the 16th and 17th centuries these timber members provided actual support to the building. False half-timbering looks like it is providing structural support, but the “timbers” are really just applied to the exterior of the walls for decoration. Stucco fills the gaps between the false-half timbers, as it often did in the real half-timbered houses that were the inspiration for this design. False half-timbering is often found...

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Ladies Lounge: That Ayres Look in Spring and an Easter dress model for Neumode in Bloomington

  Remember when ladies and gentlemen donned their finest attire on Easter Sunday–looking well put together, regardless of finances? Or can memory recall when there were many ladies and gentlemen to speak of at all? Easter always evokes memories of a new dress–always the best in my closet–and my earliest experience with gloves and hats. My mother followed the tradition she knew, passing it along to me.  What we did at church, I don’t remember, but I do recall those favorite (Easter) dresses. These Ayres looks from Spring of 1937 and 1938 (again, courtesy of Thomas Brown–thank you so much)...

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Sunday Prayers: McKay House

The Old Northside has few houses still in need of restoration–but none more eagerly anticipated than the Horace McKay Mansion at 13th and Broadway Streets. We understand that this home sold last year and all wait in breathless anticipation to see exactly what is to become of this much beloved beauty. The potential here is extraordinary, but is going to take immense talents and resources to love it back to the life it deserves. After the recent grand opening of the Indiana Landmarks Center, we have greater reason to believe in the possibilities–especially when combining the right property with...

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An Old Northside Church – All Souls Unitarian

Time to check out another Old Northside church. Or at least, former church. It’s latest use has been as a private home. The Old Northside’s Preservation Plan says this building was designed by Vonnegut, Bohn and Mueller, architects. (And plenty of Vonneguts lived in the vicinity) But it also says construction of this began in 1913. Perhaps this was an addition to the original building, since we have this second post card dated October 20, 1911: Frequently, there was some artistic license employed in the coloring of and splicing nearby buildings out of the picture. Which is better red or...

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Sunday Ad: Easter Shoes, 1904

This advertisement comes from the Indianapolis Recorder, the week before Easter 1904. Even then, the holiday was enough justification for stores to have big sales. George J. Marott was one of the biggest names in Indianapolis at the turn of the century. While the shoe business was how he got his start, he later formed the Marott department store on Massachusetts Avenue in 1906, he was the primary stockholder of the Kokomo, Marion & Western Traction Company, among other business dealings. He was also the Marott who built the Marott Hotel on North Meridian in 1926. Also from the...

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Old Northside & College Corner Club

Home of Horace and Martha Nicholson McKay at Broadway & 13th and tomorrow’s Sunday Prayers, check back! The Old Northside is bounded by the East side of Pennsylvania, 16th, Bellfontaine and I-65. According to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission’s “Old Northside Historic Area Preservation Plan,” two early neighborhoods combined into one to create the current Old Northside. “College Corners” was a residential area bounded by College Avenue on the east, Central Avenue to the west, Lincoln Avenue (now 15th Street) on the North and Christian Avenue (now 11th) on the south. The presence of the new Northwestern University (now...

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Our favorite recycling: historic buildings

How cool to look back 30+ years to see where we were and where we thought we were going in Indianapolis and U.S. preservation… From the Indianapolis Star in 1978, talking “recycling” of historic buildings. Great concept. It’d be a Happy Earth Day indeed, if more people would get on board with this! And how fascinating from the current perspective of what is happening over on the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital (which is most dear to my heart since my mother was born there)....

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Outside the Circle: Wabash

The hilly streets of downtown Wabash are lined with historic storefronts. The Downtown Wabash Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Last month we visited New Harmony, a town situated along Indiana’s most famous waterway, the Wabash River. The Wabash flows 475 miles and drains two-thirds of Indiana’s 92 counties. In 1897, Paul Dresser penned “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” and in 1913, the Indiana General Assembly adopted it as the official state song. This month, we’re traveling up the Wabash to a place that takes its name from the...

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More Old Northside photos

Before restoration Thanks to reader Greg Wagoner (Greg Wagoner Photography), here are a few more photos of the old Centrum building/new Indiana Landmarks Center to brighten the afternoon. A lilly blossom, from 2006 Sun glinting off the gold leaf on one of the restored pinnacles....

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WTH Weds: Can We All Agree?

With today’s earlier post being more apparently a “Sunday Prayer“, here is a second WTH, presumably one that we all can agree on. It is located in Herron-Morton Place. While it probably has an interesting history as to what business was located in the addition, the addition itself is not very harmonious with the home....

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WTH Weds: Barbershop House

Today’s WTH is this home located at the corner of College Avenue and 15th Street. It is not certain if the home is a single-family dwelling or if it contains apartments (or if it is actually some sort of business). The photo above shows that there is a gaping hole in the front wall, haphazardly covered with plywood (more on why that hole is there in a minute), the transomed front door is boarded and forlorn looking, and windows are covered inside with paper. However, giving it a closer look, the dormer has been painted, the upper story trim...

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WOW Part II – Classical Bash

Accompanied by fellow history lover and friend, George Hanlin, I re-entered the new Indiana Landmarks Center just after 4:30 for the “Classical Bash.” How lovely to see the Grand Hall overflowing with people—and grateful we were to be allowed drinks at our seats. Even better: free drinks—the Indiana Landmarks Wit, brewed by local Sun King Brewery quenched the thirst induced by such active listening. The program opened with horns evoking the commencement of a medieval jousting session—but alas, it was part of the introduction. The ever eloquent President of Indiana Landmarks, Marsh Davis shared a few words of welcome,...

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Room with a View: Morris-Butler Tower

Today’s Room with a View is the iconic tower of the Morris-Butler house, 1204 North Park Avenue. Looking southwest toward downtown. The view to the west, over the roof of the house and over to the new Indiana Landmarks Center. The view to the south and southeast. Imagine what the view would’ve been more than 40 years ago, when houses still stood in the blocks now underneath the highway. And finally, the view from the second floor we got while coming down from the tower. Thanks to the Morris-Butler House for allowing us to share these perspectives.  And FYI, the...

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Building Language: Lintel

Lintel A lintel is a horizontal element above a window or door opening, which supports the weight of the wall above the opening. This limestone lintel found on an empty house in the 1200 block of Broadway in Indianapolis is especially fancy with its carved design of a stylized flower. Also fancy is the original double door at this front entrance to the house. The doors are Eastlake in style with both carvings and wood appliqués. The Eastlake Style was originated by Charles Eastlake, an English architect and writer and proponent of craftsmanship. “Eastlake” became a popular furniture style...

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