Today we introduce a new (but long-dreamed of) weekly series that will acquaint you with local ‘stewards of history.’ From a wide variety of backgrounds, titles, and services performed, the goal is to inspire and recruit others to become stewards of our history and heritage, while getting acquainted with those currently making a difference. Since it’s women’s history month, it seemed an ideal time to debut with an extremely hard-working and talented female steward of Indianapolis history and heritage, Tina Connor. Whether you realize it or not, you have undoubtedly come into contact with projects in which Tina has had a hand.
Many thanks to Tina Connor for all she does for Indianapolis (and Indiana) history and preservation, and also for submitting to HI’s questions!
TITLE: Executive Vice President OF: Indiana Landmarks
ORIGINALLY FROM? Indianapolis
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? Marketing Indiana Landmarks, our programs and events; publications; special projects. The staff who manage education, Morris-Butler House, and Indianapolis and French Lick-West Baden tourism and retail also report to me.
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY? 60ish
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF? West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana Landmarks Center.
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB? Endlessly interesting subject matter, and hardworking and talented colleagues
WORST PART OF YOUR JOB? I have a great job. No bad parts, although I often wish there were more hours in the day.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS? Doing work that makes a positive contribution to individual and collective lives. Having loving relationships with family and friends. Always learning.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? Start by volunteering where you might want to work or somewhere in the field that interests you. It’s how I got my job in 1976 and I’ve hired volunteers now and then over the years.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A robust preservation ethic in our state would bring more members, more challenges to save buildings, and more opportunities to Indiana Landmarks.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE I AM WITHOUT? My family, Tom Bast, Reid Williamson, and Bill and Gayle Cook.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Knowing that the work we do matters. Challenging myself to do more, and do it better.
HOW DO YOU ‘RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES’? Head with Tom to my mother’s cottage on Lake Michigan, which I like best in fall and winter. Travel. Read. Spend time with our families.
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTORS AND HOW DID THEY HELP? My mom is 90 and remains an inspiration, always curious and learning new things and working hard. Reid Williamson, who was disposed to say yes, to give employees permission to explore ideas and new directions (Marsh Davis shares this quality). Vernie Grahn, a printing company owner who patiently taught me a great deal over many years. Bill Cook, a consummate entrepreneur and fascinating human being who allowed me to observe and learn from him and his companies. If you don’t learn from co-workers you’re in the wrong place, and I’ve been fortunate in my colleagues at Indiana Landmarks over the past 36 years.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY? My grandmother Agnes Connor, who told me about family history and got me hooked by relating the personal to the larger world. And Wilbur Peat’s book Indiana Houses of the Nineteenth Century got me hooked on historic architecture.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? I’ve always loved Crown Hill for its combination of architecture, history and nature.
FAVORITE PERSON FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? WHY? Don’t really have a favorite, but I find Eli Lilly, Indiana Landmarks founder, an intriguing figure, one who influenced the city and state in so many ways beyond the company he inherited and ran.
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? My grandma Connor always said we were distantly related to James Whitcomb Riley. Not sure if it’s true or if it was a trick to get me interested in poetry. It worked.
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? All directions from the top of Crown Hill, Monument Circle from a high floor in any of the surrounding buildings; a Butler basketball game in Hinkle Fieldhouse
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? Don’t really have a favorite…I love playing the field
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? In US, Chicago and New Orleans. In the world, Florence
FAVORITE HISTORY RELATED BOOK OR MOVIE? Sentimentally, Wilbur Peat’s Indiana Houses of the Nineteenth Century which I discovered in 1972…I think contributed to a lifelong habit of blue-highway, backroads travel.
ULTIMATE MORNING BEVERAGE? Black coffee and the New York Times, I can’t separate the two
COLLECT ANYTHING? Busts of writers; fired-on-paint Depression glass
FAVORITE QUOTE? All of Shakespeare, Yeats, Berryman, Rich…
If you know a great steward of Indianapolis history, or have a question we should add, please feel free to email us!