Month: October 2011

1837- The Beginning of the Victorian Era

It’s difficult for the untrained eye to discern the subtle changes in the pantheon of Victorian era fashion.  Periodically, we’ll look at eras that Indianapolis, too, endured. This is an example of an 1837 wedding dress: The following two are from the fashion plate collection of the University of Washington. Below, walking dresses and below: morning and evening dresses of 1836 And two more dresses, likely wedding, circa 1837 And finally an invitation: nationally known conservator of textiles, and local, Harold Mailand will be the featured guest for the Hoosier Chapter, Victorian Society in America’s final event of the...

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Sunday Prayers: A Hail Mary Saves Bush Stadium

Surely you’ve heard by now: Bush Stadium is not going to be flattened, but rather, is going to be creatively integrated into a new complex of  “Stadium Lofts,” and in so doing, preserving a beloved former ‘regular’ on the Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered List. Friday October 28, 2011- a small crowd gathered for a “Dusty Boots tour,” manned by the fabulous volunteers of Indiana Landmarks, which was kicked off with words from Mayor Ballard, John Watson and Indiana Landmarks President, Marsh Davis and others. What started life as Perry Stadium in 1931, will be integrated into 136 loft...

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Sunday Ads: Unexpected Honeybees

From the same booklet as yesterday’s map, the Dreher’s Simplex Street and House Number  Guide–not something you see every day in advertisements: supplies for beekeeper’s. I couldn’t resist featuring this, especially considering the current global bee deficit. On a recent trip to Nashville, I missed a screening of a documentary called Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?  (And people wonder why I so often wax poetical about the past?) In one of many careers that are for the most part, thankless, I say thank you to beekeepers–and looks like we have quite a few in...

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Woot Woot for the Wooton- The King of Desks

In the 21st century, we have an endless supply of choices to help organize and store important paperwork and correspondence. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the organizer of choice was not only functional, but an elegant piece of cabinetry that made a statement about a businessman’s station in society.  The Wooton Desk Company of Indianapolis was only in business for about 15 years, but its lifetime coincided with an era that witnessed a sharp increase in the number of offices and office workers. Such time-saving inventions as the typewriter, letter duplicating devices, and carbon paper generated...

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Then and Now: Fox’s Jail House Restaurant, 1205-13 E. Washington Street

Prohibition had just ended and drinking openly must have felt a little criminal when the Frank Fox family opened their new “Fox’s Jail House” restaurant and bar in 1933. The jail-themed business was located just east of downtown on the southeast corner of East Washington Street and Highland Avenue. Frank J. and Iva (Keeter) Fox had operated a grocery store in several locations before opening “Fox’s Mary Lou Lunch Room,” named after their young granddaughter. This 1928 yearbook ad shows Fox’s flair for marketing with the clever ploy of giving away a free new Ford automobile. Sons Lawrence and...

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Building Language: Buttress

Buttress. In its simplest form, the buttress is a pier (column-like solid projection) reinforcement placed on a wall to provide additional structural support. The buttress is primarily found on exterior walls of brick or masonry and traditionally counters the outward thrust of an exterior or interior arch. As wall height and/or ceiling weight increases, the pressure on structural walls grows proportionally. The use of a buttresses allow architects and engineers to increase the height and width of structures by transferring the additional structural load onto the pier. The buttress features several adaptations; while most simple buttresses feature a pier...

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Cocktail Dresses for Cocktail Time

When cocktail time rolls around, your outfit can be as intoxicating a concoction as the libations. I am thankful to be fairly height-weight proportionate and take great delight in finding fashions that fit my hourglass. (or hour and a quarter…) My choice for cocktails and cocktail attire bend towards a few decades ago. Any of the following will do for me. Top choices for the intersection of fashion and libations in 2011: Ball & Biscuit, The Libertine, Bar at the Ambassador and 1933 Lounge above St. Elmo’s. As noted, the top of these three was available at H. P....

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Sunday Adverts: Hoosier Kitchens, Cabinets, and Refrigerators in 1919

I think most of us have heard of the Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet, right? (There is one on display at the President Benjamin Harrison Home, if I’m not mistaken.) Thumbing through Good Housekeeping from 1919, there were advertisements not only for the Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet, but others as well. Also for early refrigerators, hailing from elsewhere around our great state. Seems a number of such companies existed in the midwest… Apologies for the image quality, but you see the main office for the Hoosier Manufacturing Company was in New Castle, Indiana. Offices in San Francisco and Canada, too? Over 1.5...

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Sunday Prayers meets WTH: Talbott Avenue House Turned Commercial Turned…

We all know that some former homes have been sacrificed for commercial endeavors. It’s not my utopia, but ok, I get it. The commercial development of one-time homes is done quite successfully in Louisville, Kentucky. A trip down Bardstown Road may convince you that if it’s done collectively, and filled with the hustle and bustle of people and desired businesses, you may actually find charm to this application. It would be nice to see this former double on Talbott inhabited again. Word on the street, at one time, was that a late night coffee spot was going in here....

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Indianapolis Collected: Breweriana Mania

It’s a familiar scene from the movies. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love and decide to move in together. Girl takes one look around the living room and decides that if she’s going to move in, the beer posters, beer signs and beer cans are moving out. Everyone lives happily ever after – especially the guy who finds the beer can collection in the dumpster and has it appraised at the Antiques Roadshow for thousands of dollars. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you may want to think twice before sending the beer can...

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Victory: Uncaged at Last

We all know and love her: Miss Indiana, Lady Victory, Lady Indiana–but if you want to be authentic about it, the truth is, her name is simply  “Victory.” She gives us all someone to look for when we’re downtown. She’s our beacon in the harbor, our mascot, our touchstone. From an undated article about one John Dransfield, a former sculpture model (who incidentally, also owned a tavern on South Meridian Street from 1917 until he retired), we learn that a young lady with “blonde hair and a sunny disposition…I believe her name was Louise Brunch,” served as the model...

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Then and Now: Indianapolis Remodeling Company, 1422 N. Kealing Avenue and 1028 Windsor Street

As tastes and mores change, it is easy to judge past generations. Why didn’t they save the English Hotel and the old Marion County Court House? How could so many people have joined the Ku Klux Klan? Why did we ever let our city’s wonderful mass transit system disappear? With this mindset, I thoroughly cringed when I bought a circa 1940 booklet advertising the services of the Indianapolis Remodeling Company. Alex Adomatis owned the Indianapolis Remodeling Company, located at 130 East New York Street (now a parking lot for the Indianapolis Star) in about 1940. The business offered a...

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WTH Weds: That’s Not Helping

A few months ago I penned a WTH column called McShambles where I spoke of the questionable improvements the owners of the former McShanes Bar had made to the exterior. Well if you haven’t driven by lately, you’ve probably not seen the current condition of the building.  I think it’s arguably worse than it was before. It looks like they may be replacing the roof, which is a good thing, but they’ve also systematically taken parts of it apart brick-by-brick.  In fact, I think the entire West wall is completely dismantled and sitting in a pile in the parking lot....

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Building Language: Balustrade

Indiana War Memorial, Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, Balustrade along staircase to second level. Balustrade. Today’s Building Language term is commonly used as part of the architectural vernacular and an item ubiquitous around Indianapolis. The balustrade is the plural of a baluster, which is defined as a singular, vertical support, on which a railing rests. The design of an individual baluster can vary depending on its placement and use, from square or circular, to wood or stone, and simple to ornamented. A balustrade is a row of balusters that supports a railing. The balustrade is utilized in various methods on...

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Then & Now: 919 North Pennsylvania Street

Raise your hand if you’ve ever breezed through the 900 block of Pennsylvania without noticing much around you. Looks like the originally designed balcony is not what you’ll see here today. In any case, compare the rendering and article with what you may observe today at 919 North Pennsylvania Street. The Accompanying article, from 1906 reports: “Another one of the city’s capitalists, George W. Brown, has indicated his faith in its future in the erection of a large flat building at 919 North Pennsylvania street, which will be three stories in height and contain twelve flats of five and six rooms...

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William Laurie & Co. Dry Goods- Try a Cresco Corset

Today is Rita Hayworth’s birthday (1918), which inevitably brings to mind Shawshank Redemption, one of my favorite movies of all time. So, I considered collecting some favorite images of vintage lingerie from the era of the film. Then I came across an advert for a corset from Fall 1896 in Indianapolis. It occurred to me that I have oft been reminded (when waxing poetical in my love of yesteryear’s constrained clothing), of the bondage said clothing imposed upon the wearer. I wonder how exactly a woman was fitted for this contraption? Or if you just had to conform to one...

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Sunday Prayers: Rather than Tear it Down…

Sunday Prayers this week shows a property that looks comparable to others you may currently find on the oddly named “Rebuild Indy” demolition list. Rather than demolition, however, prayers were answered when this property was rehabbed. Let’s talk about options–check out Stop the Demolitions, Indianapolis, on facebook. (Not my page, but it’s a great starting point). “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Take...

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Sunday Adverts: House Movers, 1897

Considering the recent ‘to-do’ over the planned demolition of approximately 2,000 Indianapolis structures and the desire by some of us to explore other options before we eradicate more of our (potentially restored) historic homes and buildings, these adverts was an inspiring coincidence. These 1897 adverts from the business section of the Indianapolis city directory bring to mind one of many things to appreciate about early Indianapolis: that resources were not viewed as infinite or so instantly disposable. The industrial revolution helped provide means to more easily move a building rather than destroying it. Of course, such actions are still...

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