A photowalk through Whitestown, Indiana, on Verichrome Pan

Whitestown is booming. About 15 years ago the tiny Indiana town annexed a large parcel of land to its south and, through developers, started building shopping centers, homes, and apartments. It was making a solid bid to become the next Indianapolis suburb. It is succeeding wildly.

When I moved to Indianapolis in the mid 1990s, Whitestown was just this dying railroad town in the middle of nowhere. It was so much in the middle of nowhere that people used Whitestown as the butt of middle-of-nowhere jokes.

Whitestown, IN

I also heard it said that Whitestown was aptly named because that’s the color your skin had better be if you found yourself there. I’ve heard that said about a number of small Indiana towns. I don’t know if it’s true, but racism is alive and well enough in Indiana that it’s plausible.

As Whitestown expanded, nearby Zionsville realized it had better expand, too, or it would soon be surrounded by Whitestown. Over the last 15 years, all of southeastern Boone County has come to be part of either Whitestown or Zionsville. It’s how the home I live in is part of Zionsville despite being 4½ miles away from its downtown. From my front door, I can walk to Zionsville’s border with Whitestown in just a few minutes.

The only reason Margaret and I ever go up to old Whitestown, about 3½ miles directly north of us, is because there’s a nice brewpub up there in the old school building. Really, the heart of Whitestown is now the modern shopping strip on the main road by our house. They’ve even moved the town hall to that strip.

But I’m forever looking for fresh things to photograph, especially since I’m stuck working at home thanks to COVID-19. I loaded some Kodak Verichrome Pan (expired 6/1981) into my Yashica-12 not long ago and drove up to Whitestown on my lunch hour.

See host
Prayer request
Whitestown storefronts
Lutheran church
Whitestown, IN
Jeep and bikes

After I photographed the Jeep Cherokee in front of the brewpub, I soon encountered it parked on the main road with its driver inside. He was very obviously watching me shoot the rest of this roll of film. Everywhere I walked, if I turned to look at the Jeep I found its driver looking directly at me. Because you never know if a middle-aged man making photographs with a 50-year-old TLR is going to suddenly bust a store window and start looting.

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20 responses to “A photowalk through Whitestown, Indiana, on Verichrome Pan”

  1. J P Avatar

    I have never actually been in old Whitestown. As you say, there never used to be a reason to. But if I go, I guess I had best not bring a camera.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I would probably attract less attention in these small towns if I brought my wife.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Darn good images from an almost 40 year old roll of film. Fun!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This roll made me buy more expired VP. I really like this film!

  3. arhphotographic Avatar

    Perhaps you could get a t-shirt made up with the words “ Hi I’m Jim Grey of jimgrey.net. I’m a photographer who uses old film cameras” Maybe this will allay any fears you or others would have.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How about a shirt that says “I’M HARMLESS AND YOU MAY IGNORE ME”!

  4. arhphotographic Avatar

    Even better

  5. Mike Connealy Avatar

    Super results from that roll of Verichrome Pan; I suspect it was properly stored all those years. The one roll I shot some time ago was not in such good shape and needed more time in the developer than I gave it. Would love to see the stuff reappear on the market.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      VP has a reputation for being hardy. I’ve shot a half dozen rolls of it, all bought on eBay with no promise of cold storage, and only one roll didn’t turn out looking as good as this one.

  6. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    Even 20 years ago TLRs puzzled some onlookers. Now, who knows what alien device was around your neck, taking souls left and right…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      A TLR does look like an alien device. Maybe people think I’m extraterrestrial? :-)

  7. Richard Davis Avatar
    Richard Davis

    You must admit that you appear to be a pretty sketchy looking person. Really threatening. ;-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I know, right? Here comes trouble.

  8. Olli Thomson Avatar
    Olli Thomson

    This part of town seems to have survived the developers so far. I think these kind of pictures and photo series are important because you never can tell when all of these distinctive places will disappear and be replaced by identikit city blocks with the same old, same old stores and fast food joints.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s so much open surrounding land that I’d be surprised if old Whitestown succumbs to the wrecking ball anytime soon. That’s a “feature” of US suburban sprawl — so much land to sprawl into.

      The same old same old stores and fast food joints all went in 3 miles south of here, on the main road by my house. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1994, and for 10 years after that, it was all farms out here.

  9. M.B. Henry Avatar

    A very nice round of pictures, especially on such old film! :) I enjoyed when you talked about being apart of Zionsville despite being so far from the town center. My childhood home had a similar dilemma. Our house was way out in the country, with three different little towns nearby. The phone book listed us in one town, while the post office listed us with the other, and the school district put us in the third. It sure made giving directions interesting :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My grandparents lived in the country between two Michigan towns, and they had an address in one and a phone number in the other.

      Where I live we of course have the Zionsville address, but we get water from Whitestown.

  10. tcshideler Avatar

    Whitestown’s old downtown seems to be the only reason I would ever go there. I’m tired of the suburban expansion and monotony it brings. I’d love to see more of the old school- that’s a big interest of mine and I keep a “notes” page open for coordinates of each to go take photos of. Now to hop on Google Earth!

    1. tcshideler Avatar

      I’ve looked at it on Earth and Maps and remember visiting here digitally. Seems like it’s just the gym that remains, along with some connecting periphery that once attached it to the school. Still- I must document it!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve never been a fan of suburban monotony. That I live in that monotony now is a constant source of irritation. And now that you mention it, hunh, yeah, they must have demolished most of the school as the brewery is clearly a former gym.

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