Favorite subjects: Washington Park North

It’s funny how easily you don’t notice the things you see every day. For most of the last 22 years I’ve lived near Washington Park North, a cemetery on Indianapolis’s Northwestside. At some point its entrance moved about three quarters of a mile down the road. I have no memory of this. How did I miss it? I drive by this cemetery pretty much every day!

Washington Park North in 1941. Courtesy MapIndy, http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/

Washington Park North has been here since about 1930, when this part of the county was farms as far as the eye could see. It was called Glen Haven then, but it got its current name in 1955 when the Washington Park Cemetery Association bought it. They’ve expanded it over the years to cover about 150 acres and even built a funeral center on the grounds. Along the way, absent my notice, they moved the entrance. According to MapIndy’s historic imagery, it happened in 2000.

Washington Park North, 2017. Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

The main reason this cemetery is a favorite subject is because it’s so close to my home. See the Eastern Star Church in the upper left corner of the map image above? My subdivision is directly across the street from it, to the west, outside the image. It’s a quick walk for some easy shooting, especially since the church was constructed and I can just cut through its parking lot to get there. Before I had to walk Cooper and Kessler to get there, about three quarters of a mile to the entrance. The new entrance, that is; the old one was another three quarters of a mile down the road!

Let’s start in the parking lot, where one autumn I got supernatural color on Fujifilm Velvia 50.

Red tree parking lot *EXPLORED*
Nikon F2, Fujifilm Velvia 50, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, 2014

An iron fence used to surround the property, but at some point it was taken down west of the funeral center. Yet the stone posts and this structure, on the corner of Kessler and Cooper, remain. I’ve always wondered what this structure is for.

Along Kessler Blvd.
Pentax ME, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

But I’ve spent most of my time photographing inside the cemetery. For a while I was fixated on a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds. Why does a cemetery have a Liberty Bell replica? I don’t get it. Yet camera after camera, angle after angle, I shot it a dozen times.

Pass and Stow
Miranda Sensorex II 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Liberty Bell replica
Olympus XA, Kodak T-Max 400, 2016

The little structure that houses the bell has found itself in my lens many times, too.

Bell Gazebo
Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Bell housing
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Bell Monument
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

You’ll find nary a hill, nary a dale inside Washington Park North. Landscape photos offer lots of depth.

Swans and Fountain
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016
Stone bridge
Yashica-D, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Schwinn Collegiate
Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Several mausoleums and a couple chapels dot the grounds.

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016
In the chapel
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

I’ve photographed few grave markers here because, frankly, most of them are uninteresting. I prefer the grave markers in much older cemeteries.

Crying angel
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Finally, here are just a few more photos I count as favorites from Washington Park North.

Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Foggy angel
Argus A2B, Fomapan 100, 2016
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

I really enjoy some of my favorite subjects, while others I call favorite mostly because they’re convenient and I shoot them a lot. Washington Park North falls into the latter category. When I’m shooting a new-to-me old camera, this is commonly where I go to finish the test roll! “Aw, just five more shots on this roll. I’ll just walk over to the cemetery and finish it so I can send it off for processing.”

But after I move to Zionsville, I’m sure I’m going to wish I could just walk over to the cemetery for some easy shooting.


16 responses to “Favorite subjects: Washington Park North”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Having driven past many times over maybe 35 years, I always wondered about that stone structure at Kessler and Cooper was also. Plus why Kessler Boulevard goes from an east-west road to a north-south road at that corner. I guess neither question will be answered today.

    I am sure you will find plenty of favorite areas to shoot around Zionsville.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I can answer for Kessler. The original vision was a driving loop all around the city, but only the portion from 10th St. to 56th St., and then from Cooper across to the Eastside just beyond Fall Creek Rd., was built.

      Yes, there will be plenty to shoot in Zionsville. I look forward to finding the new favorite subjects.

      1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

        So, another early unfinished attempt at a beltway. Thanks for this.


    I am so glad I subscribed to your blog. Clare.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a lovely thing to say! I’m happy you enjoy it.

  3. Bill Bussell Avatar
    Bill Bussell

    Excellent job seeing Washington Park North in a way that I have missed. I wish you had covered the Masonic area with the stained glass windows. I have come to the conclusion that many cemeteries cannot be trusted in the long term, but I think this one is fine. Crown Hill ranks at the top of my trust list.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m always unsure whether visitors are welcome when the doors to these places are open. I never want to be chased off by staff! But I’d love to tour their little chapels someday.

  4. SilverFox Avatar

    Great that you have a place like that close by, so many subjects to work on. I need to find something like that near me though in the desert the subject matter is less green :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The thing I find with places like this is no matter how many times I walk through, if I look a little harder I find something new to photograph!

      1. SilverFox Avatar

        that’s a great thing :)

  5. The Writing Waifu Avatar

    Living in an apartment for the first time and hating the look of it, I have founs that my new favorite thing to photograph is our one solitary bush by the back patio (preferably after it rains). I hope you have a much bigger favorite canvas to work with in your new place.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I can see it now, your first exhibit in the MoMA: Studies of a Solitary Bush.

      1. The Writing Waifu Avatar


  6. The Trailhead Avatar

    Ahhh, the color saturation of Velvia. Memories.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve not shot much slide film — a little E100G in 120, that one roll of Velvia in 35mm. But I was just “paid” in a bunch of different slide films for writing for another site, and it looks like I’m going to have fun exploring that!

      1. The Trailhead Avatar

        Enjoy it! If I recall, Velvia’s greens are particularly rich.

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