As tastes and mores change, it is easy to judge past generations. Why didn’t they save the English Hotel and the old Marion County Court House? How could so many people have joined the Ku Klux Klan? Why did we ever let our city’s wonderful mass transit system disappear? With this mindset, I thoroughly cringed when I bought a circa 1940 booklet advertising the services of the Indianapolis Remodeling Company.
Alex Adomatis owned the Indianapolis Remodeling Company, located at 130 East New York Street (now a parking lot for the Indianapolis Star) in about 1940. The business offered a wide variety of services including kitchen cabinet installation, home construction, rock wool (asbestos) home insulation, cellar excavation, and exterior painting (“80% lead + 20% zinc = 100%!”).
Most of my friends have worked diligently to restore old houses, so this page particularly makes me shudder. This stick-style Victorian cottage at 1028 Windsor Street was converted into a “beautiful, modern attractive bungalow” with just a few changes (enclosing the front porch)and covering original trim and decorative elements with Eternal Rock Siding. The house still stands just north of Woodruff Place, but is hidden behind a cluster of trees.
Adomatis used his own house at 1422 North Kealing Avenue to showcase his work, promoting the affordability and durability of Eternal Rock Siding. As of 2009, the house has been partially re-sided with yet another type of siding.
Tastes change, and this generation did not appreciate the old-fashioned Victorian houses with bric-a-brac gingerbread trim and fussy spindlework. I hope we learn our lessons from examples like this and at least have a conversation about what survives from ours and our parents’ generation. The loss of the Edward D. Pierre-designed Tarkington Park Shelter comes to mind as I wonder if we are doomed to repeat the error of not appreciating architecture from our own era until few examples survive.
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