Ok, I’m stretching it just a bit- the Belle Epoque is more 1871-1914 France, while the Victorian era is 1837-1901 England. The Victorian Society in America uses 1837-1917. Whatever the years, they were long ago and have less and less remnants of those years left to treasure.

Intersection of Illinois and Maryland Streets

Indianapolis through any of the aforementioned years were pivotal ones for our city’s development. That initial little square mile having been platted in 1821, the modest town was a mere teenager when the Victorian era commenced. Indianapolis in the ensuing years would see progress of gargantuan proportions–the world’s first Union Station was born here in 1853, and we would become the bustling “Crossroads of America” we hear so frequently referenced from Indianapolis marketing departments.

Pioneering, innovation, development, growth, prosperity, improvements, access to better and more… these are all terms that represent Indianapolis through the early 1900’s, at least.

Looking back at the pre- 1901 Indianapolis built environment in particular, the city was filled with architectural beauty and sure,  some ostentation. Though the majority of public Victorian structures are long gone and a huge percentage of housing stock as well, we must appreciate and retain what remains.

I know, I know, Mid-Century Modern is what the ‘cool’ kids are into these days, but let’s not forget that we are equally connected to the Victorian era as MCM–you have ancestors who carried your genes through both eras.

Some examples of long-gone Victorian Indianapolis:

Ayres Mansion, 1200 block, west side of Delaware Street

Bates-Allen-Parry-McGowan Mansion, 1300 block, east side Delaware Street

1300 block Delaware, west side of street

And some still here Victorian Indianapolis:

Gothic Chapel, Crown Hill Cemetery

Queen Anne on South Meridian

James Whitcomb Riley Home Musuem, Lockerbie Street

Please join me and others at Indiana Landmarks Center this coming Thursday, July 19th at 7pm  for “Revisiting Victorian Indianapolis,” where Marsh Davis, President of Indiana Landmarks will introduce (or reintroduce) you to Wilbur Peat’s book, Nineteenth Century Houses of Indiana, along with David Peat. The book celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It should be noted that Wilbur Peat was ahead of his time, photographing and documenting homes of the Victorian era during the Mid Century Modern and later era–not a time that looked upon Victorian architecture with a friendly eye.

Whatever your aesthetic sensibilities, surely the craftsmanship, attention to detail, materials and quality of the Victorian era are undeniable, and in many instances impossible to replicate.

Immediately following, please stay to be part of HI’s history–we’ll be toasting the three year anniversary of this website, and would love to see you there!

P.s. Thanks to David Peat’s generosity, some lucky ducky is going to win a copy of  Nineteenth Century Houses of Indiana. It’s a classic and out of print!


One response to “Sunday Prayers: Indy’s Belle Epoch”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    HAVE to stay in touch here, even though one is currently 400 miles south on I-65 at present…

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