Month: May 2013

Indianapolis Then and Now: The Reid-Dickson House, 1456 N. Delaware Street

1906. Courtesy of the Herron Art Library, Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission Collection Indianapolis was past the Victorian era of architecture with its turned posts, gingerbread trim, and Queen Ann details by the time the Reid house was constructed in 1906 on the stylish North Delaware Street. The wealthier folks favored Tudor and revival styles, but this castle-looking  house was unique for Indianapolis and inspired by a vacation to Italy. The Old Northside Historic Area Preservation Plan (1979) states: This house, in all its exotic splendor, reflects the desire for the unusual, which was popular in the late nineteenth century....

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WTH Wednesday: Vinylphant

Vinylphant? Yeah, it’s a new word. What do you call the proverbial pink elephant in the room when it’s really a dismal vinyl box in a neighborhood? We’re proposing: Vinylphant. The look of vinyl is to preservationists what fingernails on the chalkboard are to the average high school student. Sad from color to composition to correctional facility sized windows…...

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HI Mailbag: Early Religious Congregations in Indianapolis

Reader’s Question: Which is the oldest congregation in Indianapolis, where was the first church located, and what is the oldest church structure still in use? ~ Erin F., Indianapolis HI’s Answer:  A number of groups are known to have held religious gatherings in Indianapolis as early as 1821.  They were conducted in schoolhouses, cabins, and open-air venues.  The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists appear to have been the earliest denominations to organize themselves as “classes,” “societies,” or “chapels,” which then led to the building of official places of worship.  Depending on the precise definition of what constitutes a church, one of the three mentioned above...

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What’s in a Name: Schumacher Way

Max Schumacher Way Location: Downtown, near Victory Field Max Schumacher, president & chairman, Indianapolis Indians AAA Baseball team One of the shorter roads in Indianapolis, Max Schumacher Way is an access road into Victory Field, the home of the AAA Indianapolis Indians baseball team. When the stadium was completed in 1995 in White River State Park, the road was created to give easier access across Washington St. into the stadium. Born in Indianapolis on October 21, 1932, Schumacher was 1950 graduate of Shortridge High School and 1954 journalism graduate from Butler University. At Butler, he was a four-year baseball...

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Sunday Adverts: Franklin Mutual Life Insurance Company

The Franklin Fire Insurance Company, featured in this September 1874 ad, was chartered in 1851 in nearby Franklin, Indiana, in Johnson County.  In 1871, the company reorganized and moved into Indianapolis, and eventually, in 1874, this building on the southeast corner of the Circle.  A main feature of the building, a handsome statue of Benjamin Franklin, is the subject of another HI article which chronicles old Ben’s journey from the corner of the Circle to Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. (considering the insurance company originated there, the statue’s final resting place makes sense) The Exposition mentioned in the advertisement?...

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Sunday Prayers: Stop the Muddling

“We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.” So said Bob Ross, who—through The Joy of Painting—taught techniques and positive thinking. His work was never muddled; his paintings were a balance of light and color and nature and, of course, “happy little trees.” When it comes to architecture, “happy accidents” typically aren’t desired. Not when things are so calculated, so precise, so deliberately designed. One cannot easily drag a brush across an empty lot and paint a structurally sound house. Renovations and additions require thought as well. Will they be economical in the long run? How will they...

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Indianapolis Collected: And the winner is …. Schnitzer? In more ways than one.

On May 30, 1911, an aerial bomb exploded over the Speedway to signal the start of the first Indianapolis 500. But the first real auto race on the new track started with something less than a bang. As opening day approached on August 19, 1909, Speedway organizers were in a bit of a quandry over how to get the wheels rolling for the inaugural race.  Fred J. Wagner, who would later rise to fame as the dean of racing starters, was brought in from New York to serve as official starter.  Wagner ruled out the use of a starting gun, because...

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Friday Favorite: Indy the Patriotic

It’s no secret that in Indy, we love, honor and respect our military. It’s a great source of pride. Most Indy residents can at least tell visitors that Indy is second only to Washington DC in the number of public memorials to the heroes who have served, protected and fought for our freedom. Beyond the memorials though, visiting the final resting place of these brave men and women can be a moving experience when you take the time to think about how this place came about. One of Indy’s most beautiful locations is home to the Crown Hill National...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road

Bluff Road begins in the 1900 block of S. Meridian Street and  angles southwest creating a wedge-shaped parcel. Long ago a two-story frame flatiron building was constructed on the land and through the years it housed a hardware, drug store, a rowdy biker bar and strip club, and even a church before its demolition in the late 1980s. Luckily, Indianapolis Power and Light captured the corner in 1927 and again in 1936 when the company documented a electric pole consolidation project. In the 1927 view, a sign above the corner entrance reads “Cut Price Drugs.” As early as 1910,...

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WTH Weds: One of These Parts is Not Like the Other

Pretty sure there was a cottage under here at one point. Picture what this may have looked like originally: a quaint small front porch, no vinyl, no brick, different windows, and undoubtedly a whole slew of other things before someone started making changes. An addition…. …and another…. Is this how home expansion should play out?  This is why historic preservation commissions were invented and are so...

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Lombard Building (Victoria Centre)

Main staircase of the Victoria Centre, designed by Rowland Design Inc. – photo by Ryan Hamlett The Victoria Center, one of Indianapolis’ preservation success stories, has been around in its current incarnation for nearly 30 years. What is actually a melding of two historic buildings (the Marrott’s Shoes Building c.1900 and the Lombard Building c.1892); the preservation of the facades and rehabilitation of the interiors were finished in 1984 by the Realty Investments Company out of Silver Springs, Maryland. The Lombard Building, which was situated between the Hotel Washington and the Marrott’s Shoes Building (now easily identified as the...

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HI Mailbag: Renowned Egyptologist from Indianapolis

Reader’s Question: What can you tell me about Indianapolis-born Egyptologist George Reisner?  I’m interested in learning about his Indianapolis years.  ~ Peter Der Manuelian, Cambridge, Massachusetts HI’s Answer:  George Andrew Reisner Jr., is considered one of the most important figures in modern scientific archaeology.  George was born in Indianapolis on Tuesday, November 5, 1867, the son of George Andrew Reisner Sr., and Mary Elizabeth (Mason) Reisner.  At the time of the younger George’s birth, the family was listed in Indianapolis City Directories as residing at 178 Winston.  I was not able to locate Winston ( Street? Avenue? Road? ) on any street map of the city.  I did find Winston described...

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What’s in a Name: Roache Street

Roache St. Location: North Indianapolis Addison Lock Roache, Indiana Supreme Court Justice, businessman Justice Roache was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee in 1817. His family moved to Indianapolis in 1828 where he attended school and eventually graduated from Indiana University in 1836. He went on to study law under General Tighlman Howard, a lawyer and eventual U.S. Congressman, in Rockville and started practicing law in Frankfort. In 1842, he married Emily Wedding. In 1847, he was elected for one term as a state representative from Parke County. In 1852, he was elected to the Indiana Supreme Court, taking office...

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Thank you Carl Fisher and James Allison

Carl G. Fisher, Photo courtesy LHA/University of Michigan With the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race celebrating its 102nd anniversary, I believe Indianapolis residents owe a thank you to Speedway founders Carl G. Fisher and James A. Allison.  Without their vision and entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t believe that our city would be anything like it is today. Before the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911, Indianapolis was a bucolic city with very little to distinguish it.  In 1909, when the founders built the track on a 320 acre parcel outside of the city limits, the Speedway...

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Sunday Adverts: Tucker Glove Company

Graduation time is upon us – the time for caps, gowns, and in the early 1900’s, graduation gloves.  Tucker Glove Company had the slogan, “Go to a Glove Store for Gloves!” and was a premier menswear and ladies’ glove store in downtown Indianapolis for over forty years.  Hannibal S. Tucker started the company in 1878, specializing in fine menswear.  In the early 1900’s, he added a ladies’ glove section, as mentioned in this ad.  H. S. Tucker died suddenly in 1904 of a stroke, and his widow, Robina, continued to operate the store until around 1920, when the family...

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Sunday Prayers: A Community on Cottage

These doubles are located at 1726 Cottage Ave. and have been vacant for some time. The development, constructed circa 1922, was once a mildly upscale area for newly married couples to start their lives. (photo by Dawn Olsen) There is but one thing missing from the archives, photographs, directories, and censuses of the past: a personal side. It’s true that collections and public records are abundant with facts—one can find what year a person bought a house, who designed a particular property, or what the original façade of a commercial building looked like. But, too often, the data doesn’t...

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Flats Lost: Lorraine Building

The Lorraine Building, an extended-stay hotel constructed in 1891, was located at 201 West Washington Street. The location was incredibly desirable even from the beginning, because of its proximity to the current State House (completed in 1888) as well as being on the National Road, also known as Washington Street and U.S.-40. The National Road was incredibly important for early Indianapolis business and commerce.  Prior to construction, the location was used as “State Offices,” presumably during the shuffle of governmental offices during the construction of the fourth and current State House. The Lorraine Hotel had the same footprint as...

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Friday Favorites: HI Love

“Love makes the world go round,” so the old saying goes. It was also the main point of the HI pitch last night at the Build Indy event. Kudos to Formstack for putting on such an evening–filled with an interesting selection of ten organizations and businesses with a passion for making Indy better. So what does HI have to do with Love? How about EVERYTHING? One does not work 15+ hours a day and go deeply into debt to produce something they don’t love. The question I posed to last night’s crowd: “When you’re in love, what is wrong in...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Northwood Drive-In, 9075 N. Meridian Street

Every few years I get a call from some alumni group desperately seeking photographs of their favorite drive-in restaurant for a 50th reunion booklet.  The Blue Ribbon, the Igloo, Jack & Jill’s, Northway’s, the Tee Pee, and this year’s most sought after photograph: the Northwood Drive-In at Meridian and 91st Streets. The Carmel High School class of 1963 needs your help to locate a good image of  this favorite haunt from their teen years. Although not one of the best known drive-ins from this era, the Northwood has a long and interesting history and was a favorite of students...

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WTH: Go Ahead, Make My Day

That was Dirty Harry’s line, wasn’t it? And this looks like the kind of place he’d have found himself, in hot pursuit of  his latest prey. Presumably, this was once a commercial property of some sort, and oh how cool it would be if there was a way to watch a building like this via time lapse over a period of 100 years or so. Alas, we are not so lucky. As the trend is turning back to the improvement of neighborhoods, a little corner spot like this would ideally be repurposed into something that would serve the local...

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