Month: August 2011

WTH Weds: Spanish Vinyl Diner?

You know I sat down this week to write something witty about this beautiful little gem. But I have to be honest.  I don’t even know what the hell is going on here.  Which I suppose makes this an ideal submission for this week’s column. The owner clearly has mastered the art of vinyl siding.  And I do enjoy how they’ve blended the use of corrugated steel roofing with Spanish tile.  It all blends together so beautifully that I’m frankly, left speechless. With the closed in front porch to the left (at least I think thats a porch) it almost has the feel of a...

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Building Language: Balconet

Balconet.  Although the word “balconet” may not be in your vocabulary bailiwick, you could probably figure out its meaning even without seeing a photograph.  A balconet projects from the façade of a building just below or just above the window sill typically.  The balconet in the photograph, one of several on the building, rests on the terra cotta beltline and below a beautiful original window of the former Granada Theater, former G. C. Murphy, and current Murphy Art Center on Virginia Avenue in Fountain Square. The Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture defines the word “balconet” as “a pseudo-balcony.”  Unlike...

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Indianapolis–Fully Dressed With or Without a Smile

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but back when decorum was a global expectation– not confined to a few royals in other parts of the world– Indianapolis held her own. Here, a lovely lady and perhaps, her following retinue, meander along Washington Street. In this photo, the lady in here many pleats is in front of the W.L. Douglas shoe store in the Griffith Block building.  Behind them is the Indianapolis News building at 30 W. Washington Street.  Indianapolis Star file...

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Sunday Prayers: A Cottage For a Herron-Morton Home

This dear little Herron-Morton Place cottage was likely built when the smells from the State Fair undoubtedly wafted over this roofline. Yes, it is next to a parking lot (once home to the Morton Place Stables and later the Morton Place Auto Garage), but it really has the potential to be a small gemstone of the 1800 block of New Jersey. I hope this one is rescued and loved back to life while I still live here. It’s been like this for ages. Wouldn’t this make an awesome first home for someone? I have a particular fondness for cottages for...

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Indianapolis Collected: Play it again, Sam – A tragic tale of love and loss

It was a dark and stormy night in March 2004, and I was drinking cheap beer in a smoky basement bar, dreaming about a piano. Every collector has a sad tale of The One That Got Away. This is my story. Sometime in the early 1950s, an unknown person visiting the Indianapolis Press Club decided to take out a pen and scrawl his or her signature on the painted surface of an old piano. This act of vandalism started a tradition that lasted for nearly 50 years. By the time the Press Club finally closed its doors in 2004,...

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How Spades Park got its name

We pass so many names throughout the city–mostly of people long forgotten. So let’s rescue one from the history books and affirm that Spades Park did get its name from a man who donated the land upon which this park is situated. Many of us will head to Spades Park tomorrow for the Feast of Lanterns, so here’s just a bit about the park’s namesake. His name was Michael H. Spades and he was born in Cincinnati in 1854. He was the eldests of 12 children and his father died when he was 7 (Yeah, do the math on...

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The “Feast of Lanterns.” 1898

Did you know “Feast of Lanterns” started in Woodruff Place during the Victorian era? Came across a little article about the event in 1898. Above, likely decorated for “Feast of Lanterns” in the 1890s or early 1900s. Collection of Kimball & Tessie Lloyd-Jones How wonderful that the event has been revived–it takes months of preparation and hard work, so thanks from us to all those who make it happen! Check out some breathtaking photos captured in 2009 by George Hanlin.   All color photos courtesy George Hanlin from Indianapolis News, June 8, 1898 The “Feast of Lanterns” “The final arrangements are being made...

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Then and Now: Rost Jewelers / Harry & Izzy’s, 25 N. Illinois / 153 S. Illinois

Rost Jewelers,  now part of Circle Centre Mall, is one of the city’s most beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture. Although the original building was demolished, the unique façade was saved and moved thanks to what preservationists call a “façadectomy.” The original building was constructed in 1887 as a three-story brick Italianate structure at 25 N. Illinois Street. Rost Jewelers moved into the south half of the building in 1910 and reclad the front in 1936. The remodeled store incorporated a two-story green polished marble façade with a large octagonal clock, stylized signage, and first-floor display windows. (Historic American...

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WTH Weds: Beside Myself

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to siding. I like brick and/or wood. You can add some other stone varieties in there when it comes to commercial buildings…but otherwise I’m strictly a brick and/or wood man. Stucco is ok. Adobe is good for certain parts of the country but rare in Indiana. But there are several that I just can’t stand. My least favorite types of siding in no particular order… Cement block If the exterior of your building (especially the facade) is made with cement block, that says, I’m lazy, I’m cheap and I may have spent time...

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Building Language: Scupper

Scupper. A scupper is an opening in the wall of a building through which water drains.  Scuppers are most often found at the edge of the roof or within a parapet. The scupper in this photograph is in the side wall of the parapet of a house on Watson Road in the Watson Park/McCord neighborhood. The origin of the word “scupper” is attributed variously to the French word, “escopir,” which means to spit out, or the Middle English word “scope,” which means to scoop. Scuppers are also used on boats at deck level to allow water that splashes onto...

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A Woman’s Place is in the home

Above, The Propylaeum, formerly on North Street, where many years of Women’s Club meetings occurred. Women’s Clubs have existed in Indiana almost as long as the state itself. The first foray into that world appears to have been in New Harmony, Indiana in 1825 with the “Female Social Society.” Following that, “The Edgeworthalean Society” a women’s literary society of Bloomington started in 1841; the “Clionian Society” of Vernon, Indiana; the Minerva Club, again of New Harmony, organized in 1859. According to History of Indiana Federation of Clubs compiled by Grace Gates Courtney and edited by Arcada Stark Balz—these are all...

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Top 10 Reasons to Live Here- Part II

If you missed last night’s post, a.k.a. the first 5 of the top 10 reasons to live within King Park Area, check out the previous post. And probably should have mentioned that these 10 are in no particular order. And the final five follow: Above, The Gramse, 22nd and Broadway, Fall Creek Place 6. Widest variety of housing stock in the city! From grand mansions of the city’s wealthy pioneers to manageable rehabbed condos or apartments of just about any dimension you could dream up, the KPADC area has some of all of it. For example, condos in The...

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Top 10 Reasons To Live Here- Part I

“And may I leave my corner of the world better than I found it.” Anonymous Leaving a corner of the world better, (or a defined geography of many blocks, in this case) is what a Community Development Corporation (CDC) does. What exactly is a CDC? CDCs are community-based, not-for-profit organizations that endeavor to revitalize community within a specific geography that may encompass multiple contiguous ‘neighborhoods’. The CDC’s of Indianapolis work with residents, business owners and other community members to create physical, economic and social changes in the community. They are often aided by government and the private sector, including lenders, investors, property...

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Sunday Prayer for a WTH- Central & Fall Creek

World’s collide here. Yep, right at Central and Fall Creek Parkway–well, this is technically about 1/2 a block north of Fall Creek Parkway–but still it’s a disastrous collision. So many lovely commercial buildings in this city have been positively abused and tortured to within an inch of their lives. What was once a very cool commercial building, undoubtedly a thriving and integral neighborhood hub decades ago, has undergone some…shall we say “less than desirable” alterations to its outward appearance–so “what the hell!?” definitely springs to mind. However, since this is within the Mapleton-Fall Creek Community Development Corporation, I have...

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20 Things About Columbia Club You May Not Know

In honor of President Benjamin Harrison’s 178th birthday  it seemed the appropriate time to feature The Columbia Club. Guests with the last name Harrison get a small gift! Tell a friend! All vintage photos courtesy of Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, with our thanks! 1. The Columbia Club started as a “marching society” to aid in Benjamin Harrison’s election in 1888. 2. A uniform was adopted for the earliest members of the club and were comprised of: blue flannel coat and trousers, white vest and pearl-colored derby hat, and a cane. 3. The current structure is the third incarnation of the Columbia Club headquarters; all...

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It’s all connected; We’re all connected…

Some of us see the world from what might be considered an ‘unorthodox’ perspective. Every encounter conjures curiosities or questions about the connections awaiting discovery and evidence that all people, places and things are connected somehow. I love stringing together events, places, people, past and present like baubles on an invisible necklace chain or a story without a beginning or end; these connections have become a magical game of ‘Connect the Dots’ for me.   How did that start? I have always loved things from the past, which is why one of my dreams was to own a Victorian...

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Then and Now: The Catalina Bar, 3032 E. Washington Street

(Photograph courtesy of the Catalina Bar) The word “dive” easily comes to mind when one drives by the Catalina Bar on East Washington Street a few blocks east of Rural Street. This old bar always looked like it had stories to tell, and when we included it in the East Side Pub Crawl in 2006, my friend George Hanlin uncovered some of its history. Here is his article from the pub crawl brochure. In the days before the interstate, the old National Road—also known as Washington Street—was the major east-west thoroughfare. And in the days before McDonald’s, mom-and-pop restaurants...

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Room With a View: Columbia Club

Good afternoon, H.I.–ready for some room views? Here we have a couple views of the Circle. I know, I know–a couple decades ago you’d have been gazing on the beloved J. C. Penny’s or add a few decades to that and it would have been the ever-so-marvelous English Hotel & Opera House. Either way, the northwest quadrant has certainly looked better. The vistas afforded from the Columbia Club have evolved since its current incarnatioin opened in 1925. One consistency that may be relied upon, is the Monument–the very core and center of our fair metropolis. This April, while attending the...

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Building Language: Spindlework

Spindlework. The frieze, which is the decorative trim beneath the cornice on this porch, the side brackets, which attach the frieze to the porch posts, and the pendants, the dropped pieces between frieze and side brackets, are all examples of spindlework. Like many 19th Century houses in Indianapolis, this Folk Victorian residence in the 700 block of Noble Street is dressed up with spindlework porch details. So-named because it resembled wooden thread spindles, today we sometimes mistakenly think that spindlework was handmade. In reality it was mass-produced. A carpenter/builder could even order his (or rarely, her) spindlework items from...

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