Month: September 2011

Thomas Taggart Tennessee Home…

Once in the 800 block of North Capitol, the home of former Mayor, Thomas Taggart As you hurtle ever southward on Capitol in 2011, it is hard to fathom that this street, too, was once  residential. Turn back the clock 100 or so years ago, and approximately where the Litho Press, Inc. building is now, once lived beloved former mayor, Thomas Taggart and family. Designed by architects, W. Scott Moore & Son, the address changed from 410 N. Tennessee to 410 N. Capitol to 810 N. Capitol in its brief lifespan. One wonders how many early Indianapolis luminaries attended...

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WTH Weds: Nothing to See Here, Keep Moving

This American Foursquare on East Michigan (why do I keep picking on East Michigan?) is reportedly part of the Witness Protection Program as you can clearly see that it’s been artfully disguised as a suburban…fortress?. According to an unidentified source, this home was an informant in a government corruption case against a neighboring home.  You can’t see the home to the right because it was hauled off to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute.  All that remains is a vacant lot and a white picket fence. To protect the identity and ensure the security of this informant home, it...

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Building Language: Rose Window

Rose Window on Union Station, 39 Jackson Place Editor’s Note: We  thank outgoing BL contributor Connie Zeigler for her prior contributions and  are pleased to welcome Raina Regan to our team of contributors. Check out a little more about Raina directly following this article. Rose Window. A rose window is a large, circular window with symmetrical tracery radiating from the center, often forming the visual effect of a flower. Rose windows are most commonly filled with ornamental stained glass and are placed on the primary façade of the structure. Tracery is a commonly used term to describe the ornamental designed stone mullions...

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Let’s Play: Connect the Dots, Indianapolis

 1609 N. Delaware Street Invisible lines string events, places, people, past and present all together—like a floating necklace or a story without a definitive beginning or end. Of course, there are many properties within the city and neighborhoods capable of captivating the imagination, one within Herron-Morton Place came to our attention some years ago, prior to its renovation a few years ago This was also prior to the removal of a mysteriously parked shopping cart atop its front porch, lassoed down, rodeo-style by neighborhood do-gooders at 1609 North Delaware Street. Originally built between 1887-89 for a manager of the...

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Ladies Lounge: Fall 1896, New York Store

September 1896–How tiresome and drab I find my wardrobe of late… Today: shopping. I must find a new autumn jacket–the mutton sleeves and high collar now in favor will suit me well. How smart shall I look when I take a turn about to the old Circle Park!  How is our new monument coming along, I wonder? Perhaps I may stop for a cup of tea at English’s before I make my way back home to Morton Place–so serene and  far removed  from the incessant bustle of the city–much less smoke, and thus fresher air, I am thankful to...

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Sunday Prayers: Discerning in Destruction, Please?

Can we all just take a moment to evaluate what we are about to destroy, please? Everyone sit the heck down and stop with the broad, sweeping indictment of boarded up houses headed for the chopping block. Anyone who immediately responds to news of demolition with applause and merriment is being lazy and not fully using their noodle. (And, moreover not learning from past lessons.) Before I get off on a rant here, let me say: I’m not in favor of saving every structure everywhere based on its vintage or anything else. And I applaud efforts to ‘improve’ our...

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Sunday adverts: Parquet!

Ooh la la! One of the things on my dream house check list: parquet floors! And yes, I’m lucky enough to have them in my entry way! Wonder which vintage Indianapolis homes got their parquet floors from this company? Off Shelby Street?...

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Indianapolis Connected: Six Degrees of Hiram Bacon

You’re probably familiar with the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory (or its drinking-game cousin, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”). The basic premise is that everyone in the universe is no more than five people away from a personal connection with anyone else, including actor Kevin Bacon. Despite rigorous scientific testing, researchers have failed to establish the validity of the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory. Nor have college students had much luck downing beers and trying to connect with Kevin Bacon. I suspect the problem is that the universe is just too large. If the universe was limited to Indianapolis,...

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Outside the Circle: Vincennes

The Francis Vigo Statue on the grounds of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park and the Lincoln Memorial Bridge carrying U.S. 50 over the Wabash River. Way back in the 1730s, the French established a fort along the Wabash River and named it after a French officer, Vincennes. Vincennes became a profitable fur trading center and at various times was controlled by the French, British, and Colonial Americans until the Revolutionary War. In 1779, George Rogers Clark and his small army took from the British the largest land conquest of the Revolutionary War. Today, Clark’s legacy is prominently...

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Then and Now: Lucretia Mott Public School No. 3 and the CommonWealth Building 23 N. Rural Street

With all of the talk of demolition of abandoned buildings, it is encouraging to see neighborhoods take charge of their problem properties and find positive new uses. The proactive residents of Englewood Neighborhood on the near east side have taken their former public school on North Rural Street and found an adaptive reuse as housing. The Lucretia Mott Public School No. 3, located on Rural Street just north of East Washington Street, was completed in 1905. During the 1890s-1910 this area transformed from a rural setting (thus the street name) into a thriving, then suburban, neighborhood. Contractor W. P....

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WTH Weds: Now That’s Cuckoo

This home with its second story door is either: A former entrance to an upstairs apartment (Good lord, I hope there were stairs or at least a trampoline to help people make it up there) The third best deterrent  to solicitors…behind a rabid dog and a chalk outline of a body on your front porch The former home of a clock maker who built an upstairs door for his mother-in-law to come outside to yell at him at regular intervals throughout the day By the way, as someone who lives in an urban area, I’ve started telling myself that boarded...

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Building Language: Glass Curtain Wall

Glass Curtain Wall.  Although Historic Indianapolis fans may think of historic architecture in 19th Century terms, the National Park Service (which maintains the National Register of Historic Places) and architectural historians know that buildings over 50 years of age (as recent as 1961) may now be eligible for the National Register.  That means many of the glass curtain-wall structures in downtown Indianapolis have risen, or soon will be rising into the consciousness of preservationists. The glass curtain walls in the photograph are on the building officially called “Market Square Center” by Indianapolis architects, Wright Porteous and Lowe, according to...

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Then and Now: Harness Factory Lofts and the Georgia Street Improvement Project, 30-34 E. Georgia Street

The photograph below shows the Indianapolis Brewing Company’s parade wagon pulled by a six-horse hitch on East Georgia Street. The wagon is decorated with what looks like wheat and hops, wooden beer barrels, and a sign for Mausner’s Lager Beer. Although this photograph is dated 1933, my guess is it was probably a little later since The Indianapolis Brewing Company made Mausner Lager as a post-Prohibition beer with the slogan “Like the Old Days” This beer was named for Casper Maus, one of the brewery’s owners. Note the streetcar tracks in the center of the street (see another photograph here...

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WTH Weds: Spot the Triangles

Quick! Spot the triangles in this photo.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Find them yet?  You can’t miss ’em.  I swear, there are at least two triangles in this photo. Anything seem a little ‘off’ to you? No seriously, can you see the triangles?  AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SEE THE...

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Building Language: Oculus

Oculus. From the Latin for “eye,” oculus is the name for this round window and others of this shape. Alternate names for this feature are roundel (for its round shape) or bull’s eye (for obvious reasons). Oculi may be found in the sidewall of a building or at the top of a dome. The oculus in this photograph allows a look out of an early 20th Century double in the 1400 block of Park Avenue. Oculi have been used as architectural features since at least the Renaissance.  Put on your glasses and look for an oculi near you. Connie...

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Ladies Lounge: Ladies Biking in 1896 Indianapolis

On Ladies Lounge today, the Winthrop Convertible Bicycle Skirt, available at L.S. Ayres in 1896 (above) and an article about a bicycle riding skirt, the patent for which had just been filed. Is it the same skirt? It doesn’t seem to be to me–so check out the marketing of special bicycle skirts for women… Wouldn’t it be fun to ride a bike and play sports in the above number? And check out these “Ben Hur” Bicycles sold on the corner of Pennsylvania and Market, and free lessons given away with the purchase of a bike!...

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Sunday Prayers: West side of 1500 block of Meridian Street

Not everyone realizes that what is now primarily a commercial corridor on North Meridian Street, south of 38th Street was once lined with mansions that put the ones still in existence (above 38th Street), nearly to shame. There could be months of features on all the breathtaking mansions of 100+ years ago, and assuming this website continues to flourish, that will eventually come to fruition. Despite all the construction, renovation and additions to parts of the street, it never quite measures up for me, sentimental sort that I am. For example: the west side of the 1500 block of...

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Indianapolis Collected: Vote early–and often–for campaign collectibles

If you ask a random group of people which candidate promised Change We Can Believe In, who told us it was Morning in America, and what constitutes the San Francisco Treat, most will correctly answer Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Rice-a-Roni. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who can identify the local candidate who pledged to Stand Up for Indianapolis, boasted he would Bust the Machine, or (in a nod to low voter expectations), simply said I will Do the Job. That is, unless you ask Charlie Hunter. While many political collectors focus primarily on presidential campaigns, Hunter...

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Georgia on My Mind: An Opinion

Ray Charles refuses to stop serenading this evening, so in sharing the impetus, perhaps I can move on to another track. (all due respect for his talent, much love and may he rest in peace).   Georgia Street is on my mind as I attempt to understand why anyone would want to change the name of (what’s left of) a thoroughfare that’s been part of this city since it was still heavily forested and freshly platted in 1821. It’s common knowledge that Mississippi and Tennessee Streets were changed to Senate and Capitol Avenues, respectively—but that was back in the...

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