Author: Jeff Kamm

At Your Leisure: At the Museum

John Herron Art Institute as it appeared in 1906. (Image: eBay) The Indianapolis Museum of Art is one of the crown jewels of our city. Few may realize that the facility near 38th Street and Michigan Road is one of the ten largest and oldest encyclopedic art museums in the United States. The galleries feature over 54,000 works. Permanent galleries focus on European, American, African, Asian and contemporary art and provide a great diversion, no matter the weather. Beyond galleries, visitors shouldn’t miss the restored stately former home of  J.K. Lilly, lavish grounds and a recently completed nature park, 100...

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At Your Leisure: At the Movies

Cinema has always been an important aspect to leisure time activities in the Circle City. Throughout the years, the art form has morphed from opulent downtown movie palaces to the drive-in theaters of the 50’s and 60’s, finally onto the suburban multiplexes with stadium seating that we know today. The origins of moving pictures is usually a story of a bustling downtown. Prior to the second World War, well over thirty theaters existed in the mile square in some form. If Indianapolis had a defined “theater district” in the early half of the twentieth century, it most certainly would...

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At Your Leisure: Rene’s French Restaurant

What comes to mind when you think of French cuisine? Could it be an elegant dining room with tables draped in white adorned with intricate place settings? Perhaps an image of meals served with loaves of warm, crusty bread and an endless parade of wine pairings? Or could it be a plethora of glistening meat, game and fish coated in flavorful sauces whisked to perfection by chefs wearing the old uniform of all white, capped with tall white hats? Whatever comes to mind, if it involves Indianapolis, it must be a memory from long ago. The city no longer boasts one of...

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At Your Leisure: The Red Gables

It’s unclear what made this the “Most Streamlined Restaurant in the Middle-West” but it was clearly a point of pride. (Courtesy Evan Finch) When your travels lead you to the intersection of Lafayette Road and Sixteenth Street, you may notice the odd little building with a faded sign, promising “packaged liquor, cold beer, and carry-out.” The high-pitched roof gables and covered porte cochere are not indicative of a seedy liquor store, dive bar, or whatever occupied this space in it’s final incarnation, but if you look closer you can see large picture windows long since covered by siding and...

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At Your Leisure: More than a Night at the Symphony

On September 14, 2014,  The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will hold its opening night gala at the Hilbert Circle Theater. It looks to be a fantastic evening as renowned Polish conductor Maestro Krzysztof Urbański takes the podium to lead the symphony in selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Indianapolis is fortunate to still have access to a large-scale symphony, especially considering such is only enjoyed by 16 other cities in the U.S. The special and sophisticated aspect of Indianapolis culture has grown and developed over time to become a staple of the Indy arts community. Considering as much, it’s sometimes hard...

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A Day in The Park: White City Amusement Park

A panorama from atop the boat ride. (Courtesy Indiana State Library) As Labor Day 2014 hits the history books, and fall has officially started, it’s only obvious to ask: how did Indy spend it’s summer? Some may have gone camping, some far away on an extravagant vacay, and many may have taken a day trip to one of the amusement parks scattered about the region. Unfortunately, the word “trip” truly rings accurate, as the closest oasis for thrill-seeking Indy residents stands hours away from Monument Circle. Believe it or not, there was a time when a closer options were...

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College Football in the Circle City Derailed: The 1903 Purdue Wreck

The 1903 Purdue football team of which fourteen members perished in a train wreck in Indianapolis. (Courtesy Purdue University) For many, this weekend marks the true beginning of autumn as college football kicks off across the Hoosier State. Thousands of fans will converge on college campuses across the state to take part in an afternoon of tailgating and cheering on the home team. Although Indy lacks a team that competes at football’s top collegiate level, we have housed plenty of memorable and significant college games. Though it is important, as we anticipate another season of excitement, to remember a...

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Out on the Town: An Evening at the Embers

Mid-century Indianapolis may have had the reputation for being kind of a snooze; the era spawned the less-than-complementary terms of endearment such as India-no-place and nap-town. For fun, you could always participate in the bi-weekly pigeon hunts held downtown on Sunday afternoons, but if that wasn’t exactly your speed, you’re still in luck, because the 50s were the heyday of the lavish nightclub scene. The hub of high-end entertainment was centered along Meridian Street, north of downtown. Many establishments featured elegantly appointed cocktail lounges and dining rooms that showcased live entertainment. One of the most prominent of these venues...

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At Your Leisure: The Year of the Coliseum

The exterior of the coliseum shortly after construction. (Courtesy of eBay) If you’ve been living under a mound of red velvet funnel cake, you may not know it is the “Year of the Coliseum” at the Indiana State Fair.  The dominating structure bestowed with this year’s titular honors has been recently revived and reinvented after an extensive two-year renovation. The interior of the building was made current, now meeting the standards of a modern day visitor, while maintaining its austere, traditional appearance. But did you know that this wasn’t the first incarnation of the State Fair’s coliseum? The practice...

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Nothing Beats a Day at the Ballpark

Panorama of Washington Baseball Park (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society) There are few greater summertime joys than an evening at the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and the intermingling scents of beer and freshly mowed grass paints a living portrait of a quintessential American Experience. The Indianapolis Indians have been entertaining fans for over a century as one of the five oldest continually operating franchises in minor league baseball. Most Indianapolis citizens are familiar with the beautiful surroundings of Victory Field, and lifelong residents of a distinctive vintage may recall attending their...

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At Your Leisure: An Evening at The Fox Theater

By 1938, “The Colonial” had become”The Fox” Theatre. A hotel was also housed in the building. (Courtesy Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society) [if gte mso 9] Can you remember back when couples used to dance down at the Fox? Probably not, unless you were alive and kicking around the early 1900s. It all started in the summer of 1909 when “The Colonial Theatre” was built at the corner of Illinois and New York Street. The theatre, which seated about 1400 people, shared a building with The Colonial Hotel. Eager theater patrons entered the lobby from the northwest...

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