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After a late night of composing future articles for Historic Indianapolis, awaking after a mere 3 or so hours sleep to see a text from a dear friend that reads: “Was Kemper house destroyed?” is akin to finding a family member has been in an accident. Confusion, disbelief and a feeling of utter impossibility swept over me. Surely, he’s confused, I thought. Immediately followed by, well, he does know his history, but what in the world is he talking about?

So, turning to facebook (where else does one get the most immediate news these days if not facebook or twitter?) and before my eyes, a fiery photo from Historic Indianapolis fan Danny Beers (thank you!) informing us of the fire. Even though it said the front of the structure wasn’t damaged, I coudn’t go back to sleep, nor could I reach anyone who might be in the know, so I jumped into a pair of jeans and headed right over.

What a relief to find this seems to be the extent of the damage appears to be manageable.

Clearly, the Indianapolis Fire Department responded swiftly and got the fire controlled in very short order. Thank you, IFD! I’m going to figure out which fire station helped with this one and bake them some cookies or something…

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This could have been so much worse. Early estimates came in at about $80,000 worth of damage.  This is the only former home left intact in this block on this side of the street. The home is from the late 1870s.

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8 am the morning of May 10, 2011–and from this view, you would never know anything was amiss.

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This shows both preservation affirmed and denied. Affirmed for the Kemper House, or Alexander P. Fox House (according to the 1913 Blue Book)denied for the homes that stood on either side of this home and on the other side of the large apartment building.

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This home used to stand between the Kemper House and the large apartment building–razed sometime after 1950.

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This stood on the other side of the apartment building before the highway and road reconstruction. You’ve passed over the grave of this home countless times if you have taken 11th onto I-65.

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And though the quality is poor, here is a more vintage view of the Kemper House. For today, Preservation Affirmed.

And our thoughts and well wishes go out to the other victims of last night’s arson spree. It took awhile to realize there were so many homes targeted last night. Too bad the arsonists don’t understand how to get attention in a positive way. It would be so much more rewarding to get idle hands together to help repaint an old house like this. Here’s hoping.

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