*As a side note, this week we wanted to showcase a devoted volunteer who works at this job in addition to a daytime career; there are so many ways to make a difference to history and heritage!

NAME: Lorraine Phillips Vavul
TITLE: Chair FOR: Historic Urban Neighborhoods of Indianapolis (a.k.a. HUNI)
SINCE: 2008
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE: My HUNI job responsibilities are threefold:
1) Promoting historic preservation, neighborhood revitalization and other improvements within Indianapolis’ urban neighborhoods;
2) Representing and promoting the interests of Indy’s historic neighborhoods to government officials and other authorities whose actions affect the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of HUNI’s membership;
3) Providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and experiences among individual and Neighborhood Association members.

YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY: anywhere from 3-20 hours per week
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF: Saving the historic façade and grand staircase of the former St. Vincent Hospital at Fall Creek and Illinois Street.
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB: Advocating for efforts to save the historic architectural fabric which defines our community …our historic housing stock. It is gratifying to represent the interests of something which is indeed a passion. Our historic districts give us cause to celebrate our heritage through their unique and distinct contributions to the Indianapolis landscape.
WORST PART OF YOUR JOB: Those individuals who don’t understand the value of historic preservation.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS: When I have done my best. Perhaps a better substitute question to ask here: “What are your guiding principles?’ Enjoy today. Do what’s right. Do your best. Appreciate others who bring happiness to your life. Cherish both the sunshine and the rain. We’re here such a short time…make a difference.

Facade of St. Vincent Hospital remains, and was integrated into the new Ivy Tech Campus

ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? Have a passion for historic architecture and a deep understanding that not everyone gets it.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A LARGE influx of cash for programs geared to stabilize and revitalize historic homes and effective incentives for attracting caring buyers to rehabilitate and live in historic homes.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE I AM WITHOUT: Sally Cook, Garry Chilluffo, Marge Kienle, Jeff Miller and Jay van Santen (absolutely outstanding advisors and friends).
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Saving beautiful architecture for future generations.
HOW DO YOU ‘RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES’? I enjoy going to Riley’s grave atop the city (in Crown Hill Cemetery) for some quiet reflection time.
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTORS AND HOW DID THEY HELP? Jean & Lamar Richcreek and Marsh & Grace Davis. They showed me the possibilities of Arts & Crafts architecture and the beauty of Historic Meridian Park.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY: I have always loved old houses even when I was a little girl. My grandparents owned a large old home – which has long since burnt down. I love the Morris Butler House, Riley House, and the Benjamin Harrison Home, etc. Truly, I must be an old soul.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? The lore of Tuckaway has always intrigued me. Nellie Simmons Meiers’ palm readings of the rich and famous of the early 1900s including Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, George Gershwin, Carole Lombard, Amelia Earhart, James Whitcomb Riley. It would have been quite fun to be Nellie’s neighbor and dinner guest back 100 years ago…watching all celebrities coming and going from across the street, hearing Rachmaninov or Gershwin playing piano as their music danced from the windows of Tuckaway and filled our quiet street with sound.
FAVORITE PERSON FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? WHY? From the recent past, I’d have to pick Larry Conrad. Larry deeply loved our city and state and was one of its biggest advocates. From the more distant past, I’d have to pick the Lilly Family whose imprint on and generosity to our community is legendary. Eli Lilly also founded Indiana Landmarks, which benefits us throughout Indiana. Clearly, Eli and I have one shared passion – the love of historic architecture.
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? Looking out over the city I love the view from Riley’s grave at Crown Hill Cemetery; to the west of the city, I love the view from White River State Park along the canal; and to the north of the city, the view from Bugs Temple is especially nice in a gondola with a singing gondolier!
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? That’s like picking among children: Thai food-Sawsadee and Siam Square; sushi-Sakura; Indian-Indian Garden; Mexican-El Rodeo; pub food-Chatham Tap; upscale restaurant-Seasons 52.
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? Venice, Italy; Jackson Hole, Wyoming;  Wellington, New Zealand –All of these cities are breathtaking!

ULTIMATE MORNING BEVERAGE: hot tea with a little sugar and vanilla rice dream.
COLLECT ANYTHING? Occasionally pins.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “The things which count the most are the things which cannot be counted.”
THEME SONG: Life is Life (Opus 1985). Post college I spent five weeks traveling around Europe. This song was played in many of the 17countries I visited. It reminds me to live in the moment embracing those of different cultures, beliefs and values.

One response to “Heritage Steward: Lorraine Phillips Vavul”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Knew two Vavul families here in town; grew up with them and attended Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church with them. Luckily the former church edifice at 40th and Pennsylvania is occupied by the Indianapolis Opera Company who has maintained the building rather well in the important Meridian Kessler neighborhood…

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