Month: May 2012

WTH Weds: Fenestrative Palimpsest

Remember children, it can always get worse. With replacement windows and vernacular renovations, it typically does.  In this case, despite the vinyl siding, windows, and post-modern vernacular porch enclosure, many of the original cottage Victorian details are intact and the original architectural intent is obvious.  As an added bonus, the replacement windows are somewhat proportional and are symmetrical. ….but seriously, WTH is up with that porch???   Pertinent Address: 1900 Block of Bellefontaine...

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Building Language: Infill

Infill. If you live in a locally designated historic district, today’s Building Language term should be a familiar friend. In preservation, infill describes new construction that remains sensitive in design to the surrounding historic buildings. Locally designated historic districts, including those in Indianapolis, typically review the designs of new construction to ensure they remain compatible to the design and character of the neighborhood. In the Old Northside neighborhood, I’ve found several examples of infill construction that show the variety of new construction that fits within this historic neighborhood. But, as a reminder of the wonderful architecture found within the...

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Ladies Lounge: Real Silk Hosiery

Real Silk Hosiery was one of the more successful and well known manufacturers in Indianapolis of yesteryear. Lucky we are that the Real Silk Lofts, (where hosiery, lingerie, undergarments and eventually products needed for World War II were created) are still there. That water tower makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it. Real Silk operations began in 1922 and ceased  in the 1950’s. Check out a few of the fun adverts (for sale on ebay right now) from our very own Real Silk through a few decades:  1925 1926 1938 & 1939 1940 Sewing kits,...

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A Personal Indianapolis Story of Love, Survival and Inspiration- Part II

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to feature this moving account from one of our readers. To read Part I of this story, featured yesterday, click here.  Again, many thanks to Janie Hensley. By Janie White Hensley When someone finally pulled me out of all the debris I refused to leave until I saw my parents.  Because we lived reasonably close to the coliseum, there were many nearby people who came to help who were friends and neighbors.  It was one such family friend who finally convinced me to go to the hospital with the promise that she would...

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A Personal Indianapolis Story of Love, Survival and Inspiration- Part I

This is the first first-person account written by an Historic Indianapolis.com reader–I hope the first of many. This story is deeply touching and is divided into two parts. The conclusion will run tomorrow, in honor of Mother’s Day. Read both parts, you’ll understand why. We all have stories to tell that connect with significant events in Indianapolis and we’d love to share more. Many thanks to Janie Hensley for her bravery. By Janie White Hensley It’s strange how people remember things. My life is broken into two main areas: before and after an incident that happened when I was...

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Indianapolis Collected: Close Cover Before Striking

I was born in the early morning hours of my parents’ sixth wedding anniversary. As Dad would tell the story, my mom wanted an anniversary baby, and figured she could make that happen by refusing to leave the house despite some obvious signs of my imminent arrival. He finally persuaded her to go to the hospital as midnight approached, and anxiously lit a cigarette as she was whisked away on a gurney. Within a few minutes, however, he wasn’t the only thing smoking in the waiting room. In his agitated state he had dropped a burning match into a...

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Heritage Steward: Meg Purnsley

NAME: Meg Purnsley TITLE:  Sr. Architectural Reviewer   FOR: The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, Department of Metropolitan Development, City of Indianapolis SINCE? 2000 ORIGINALLY FROM? Chicago, Illinois YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? • I review applications for Certificates of Appropriateness • I provide technical assistance to property owners in IHPC districts and occasionally outside districts • I serve as a Hearing Officer for administrative hearings • I conduct property research and analyze case history, and prepare written recommendations for requests to the Commission • I coordinate with other departments throughout the City of Indianapolis, State and other local entities including Code...

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Friday Favorite: The Murat

“…What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”  Uhhh, not so fast, Romeo. I just can’t embrace calling this place the name of some bank. Sorry, but for purists like me, it’s always going to be ‘The Murat’. Should one of the most unique pieces of architecture in the city have some generic bank name? Don’t think so. Beyond semantics, we can all agree this is one of the coolest icons of the city, can’t we? An easy Indianapolis favorite, on Friday or any other. Where Mass Ave,  Michigan...

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Indianapolis Then & Now: Vance Block/Zipper Building/Broadbent Building

Due to Ralston’s original design of the city, Indianapolis has had a number of flatiron buildings. These triangular-shaped buildings were constructed where angled avenues bisect the city’s grid-patterned streets. One such flatiron block that has seen several changes is at the intersection of East Washington and Pennsylvania Streets and Virginia Avenue. The grand Vance Block was built in 1875/76 by Mary J. (Bates) Vance, widow of merchant Lawrence Vance. Her money and entrepreneurial spirit likely came from her father, Hervey Bates, who was Marion County’s first sheriff. He was best known as a businessman and banker, and the owner of...

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WTH Weds: For Whom the Bell Tolls…

This house, turned seemingly unoccupied apartment building, in the 1700 block of Bellefontaine Street, is the perfect example of what not to do when converting a historic property. Not only is it visually offensive in almost every possible way, but its deferred maintenance and hap-hazard construction present huge liabilities for the future. The misery of this sad building seems to have no end. Much like the mange-covered poodle at the pound, this American Four Square has little hope to be adopted (rehabbed into a useable building). No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the...

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Room With a View: Inside the State House Dome

There were so many amazing views to be had on the behind-the-scenes tour of the State House that I’m going to break this into multiple parts. The above is the view inside the dome at the State House–beautiful and remarkable. And well cared for. As an aside, if you look closely in this pic and you can see our awesome video artist and producer, Jeremiah Nickerson of Nickerson Films who I am so grateful for and honored to work with! Below is looking down on the stained glass you will see above you when you walk into the heart...

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Building Language: Recent Past

Recent Past. Continuing in our exploration of preservation related Building Language terms for Preservation Month, today we’ll explore the recent past. The recent past is defined as cultural resources that are less than 50 years of age. The preservation of recent past properties can often be of a controversial nature, with the threat of demolition always at the forefront of these resources. Currently, recent past sites include those from the second half of the 1960s and now into the 1970s and soon, the 1980s. As most properties within this time period feature mid-Twentieth century architecture, many do not see...

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Ladies Lounge: What’s your scent, Indianapolis?

I don’t know about you, but that warmer weather last week got me schvitzing. Time to double down on the anti-perspirant. It’s not just prevention, there’s also augmentation: perfume. Prior to developing allergies, I loved perfume–now it’s a rare and special occasion that I can use it, but for the rest of you– do you stick with one scent? Have a vanity filled with different aromas? How do you roll, ladies of Indianapolis? These colorful Avon adverts from 1954 for “Cotillion” make me want to try it. How about you? These ads also bring to mind the question: what...

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Sunday Ads: Parquet, not a creamy spread

The warmer weather inevitably makes me grateful for wood floors–just seems to make the house feel lighter and cooler. The above advert is from 1906 and below from 1898–I have to wonder if my parquet entryway was created by this company? Looks like it was located in Fountain Square–even the City Directory lists the address as “Belt RR, East of Shelby.” Where would you get parquet floors created today? Anywhere  ...

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Sunday Prayers: Fall Creek Parkway and 32nd Street

If, like me, you frequent Fall Creek Parkway, you surely noticed a change at Fall Creek Parkway and 32nd in the last few weeks. First, a bunch of really tall, old, beautiful trees were taken down…presumably clearing the way for bulldozing this former beauty. Undoubtedly, it’s seen better days, but what a pock mark and hole this will leave in the streetscape of Fall Creek Parkway if it goes. Don’t you think there’s an opportunity to get creative about reusing challenged properties like this? I do. And while this one may be too far gone to save, others aren’t. ...

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Friday Favorite: Redeemer Presbyterian and Harrison Center for the Arts

Considering it’s first Friday, and my one stop is always Harrison Center for the Arts and City Gallery, seemed a good time to give a shout out to Redeemer Presbyterian–former home of First Presbyterian Church. “First Pres” as you’ll sometimes hear it referred to, was the congregation of former President Benjamin Harrison and had been one of the four churches facing Circle Park–a.k.a. Monument Circle. And my favorite, Kipp Normand won’t be in his studio at HCFA tonight, but rather, at another favorite: Indiana Landmarks Center- don’t miss him either!...

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Heritage Steward: Connie Zeigler

NAME: Connie Zeigler TITLE:   President/Owner    FOR: C. Resources, Historians SINCE? 2007 ORIGINALLY FROM? Greensburg, Indiana, with the world famous tree on the Courthouse Tower. YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? Preservation consulting, researching buildings, preparing National Register of Historic Places Nominations, writing a monthly column for Urban Times in Indianapolis, researching and writing museum exhibits. I’m a hired gun historian. YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY?   Take the total number of hours available in a week and divide in half. It’s about that many. PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD TO HAVE BEEN PART OF?  Preparing the nomination that placed Avriel Shull’s...

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Indianapolis Then & Now: Von Spreckelsen Cottage/Cottage Home Community Space 722 N. Highland Avenue

This charming Folk Victorian cottage was built at 722 N. Highland Avenue in the 1880s by carpenter John Amandus von Spreckelsen (1859-1933). The German-born carpenter came from a family of plaster workers, carpenters, and contractors. Relatives that I interviewed in the 1980s remembered that even though he was German, the family lived in England when John was young and he still had a hint of a British accent in his old age. Here his wife Catherine poses with their children on the porch in about 1890. Of interest in this photograph are the painted turned posts and spindles, fan-like...

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