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Keystones in South Elevation, Alumni Hall, Indiana School for the Deaf (1200 E. 42nd Street)

Keystone. No, today’s Building Language term is not in honor of Keystone Avenue that runs north to south in Indianapolis. A keystone in architectural language refers to a wedge-shaped block or stone that sits at the center of an arch or stone feature. The keystone serves an integral function in the structural stability of a stone arch, helping to lock the other voussoirs into place. Keystones may also serve in a more ornamental capacity, placed in the center of a door or window lintel (above the opening). The limestone heritage of Indiana provides ample opportunity for limestone keystones throughout the historic architecture of Indianapolis.

The Alumni Hall at the Indiana School for the Deaf (1200 East 42nd Street) features several keystones in its design. The Alumni Hall was constructed in 1907 in the Neo-Classical style by the Indianapolis architects Rubush & Hunter. This classical beauty features keystones over its door and window openings on its main façade. Of special note, the windows on the first floor feature flat radiating brick, voussoir arches, with limestone keystones. Also, how remarkable is the cartouche located in the pediment on this façade?

Keystones in Old Southport High School (6548 Orinoco Avenue)

Another school building features a prominent use of the keystone – the Old Southport High School (6548 Orinoco Avenue). The keystones on the first floor are positioned in the center of a limestone arch, repeated five times along primary façade. Keystones are also used in the lintels on the windows on the second floor. The Old Southport High School is a Colonial Revival design dating from 1930 by the local Indianapolis architects McGuire and Shook.

Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

The loose keystone threatened the structural stability of the limestone arch.

One response to “Building Language: Keystone”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Am roughly familiar with the keystone; appreciate getting these.

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