It had been a cornfield, this plot across from my neighborhood. Once in a while I’d get stuck on the main road behind a tractor or a harvester that had just completed some work here. Right in the middle of Indianapolis. And then one day about seven years ago heavy equipment cleared a dense line of trees by the road, revealing the fallow field beyond. This sign went up, followed by the framework behind it.
As the trees came down I figured a neighborhood would be built here. I wasn’t excited. The road is narrow and busy enough without a hundred more cars trying to get in and out every day.
And so I was happy that our new neighbor would be a church. And not just any church: the giant and well-known Eastern Star Church.
This nearly 100-year-old congregation began to experience explosive growth about 30 years ago. Since then it has planted three new churches and expanded from one to three locations around central Indiana. This is the third and newest location.
The church has been a respectful neighbor. They designed their parking lot so that it empties not only onto the main road, but also through a neighborhood to the north and the cemetery through the south, to disperse exiting cars evenly.
Traffic moves pretty smoothly on the main road every Sunday morning, especially since police are always on hand to direct traffic. Sometimes I happen to return home from my church as Eastern Star lets out, and I seldom have to wait more than a minute to turn into my subdivision.
The church brought an unexpected benefit: it extended my ability to take an evening stroll. My little subdivision has but five streets. Walking the same loop gets old fast. But now I can cut quickly through the church’s parking lot to reach the large cemetery beyond. It’s a nice, long, varied walking loop. I could walk there before, but I had to either walk a mile on the shoulders of busy roads, or drive. So I never did it.
So why do I have so many photographs of the church? Because I’m forever testing a new-to-me old film camera, and the church is an easy subject. I can walk to it in five minutes.
And so I’ve captured it in all seasons and at nearly all times of day. These photos are in chronological order, by the way.
Really, little has changed since construction ended. A little more landscaping. The signs out front are a little different now. The trees, so spindly when planted, are filling out.
It’s interesting to me to review these photographs and see how the church and its grounds appear on various films, through various lenses, at various times of day.
We think we know a thing or a place because we pass by it all the time. But I think we easily come to fail to actually see it — our minds have put it into a box, have made it a known quantity.
These photos show some of the variables that go into what a place looks like. This church’s structure is certainly fixed. But how we see it is not.
Moreover, you would see it differently from me. I would enjoy seeing how you would photograph this same place.