Preservation, Road Trips

Kirklin, revitalized

When I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008, I felt bad for little Kirklin, a town about 45 minutes north of Indianapolis. Except for its lovely Carnegie library, it was all but dead. Its run-down buildings, mostly vacant, said that Kirklin’s best days were long past.

A page on my old site shows Kirklin as it was in 2008, plus some postcard images of it during its early-20th-century heyday. Click here to see.

A couple antiques dealers operated out of dilapidated storefronts. As I walked up and down Kirklin’s portion of the Michigan Road, my camera in one hand and my two dogs attached via leash to the other, they came out and accosted me. “Why are you photographing our town?”

When I explained about the Michigan Road and my quest to photograph it end to end, their tones softened. “We sure wish we could get more people to make the short drive up here from Indy to visit our shops,” they lamented. “It would make all the difference to our little town.”

Kirklin was in a catch-22: there wasn’t enough to do there to make the drive worth it, but without people willing to make the drive it wasn’t worth adding anything more to do.

And so I’m puzzled, as Kirklin has renovated most of its buildings and added a number of shops. Most of those shops deal in antiques and knick-knacks, but it’s absolutely enough to make it worth the drive from Indy. My wife and I spent a couple pleasant hours browsing here. We met several of the shop owners, who engaged us in very pleasant conversation. We even bought a few things.

Here, have a look at Kirklin today.

Kirklin
Kirklin
Kirklin
Kirklin

It would be lovely if Michigantown and Burlington, two neighboring Michigan Road towns directly north, could find this same level of revitalization. It would make a lovely “antique alley,” a one-tank trip and a very pleasant day. Travelers could start in Logansport and end for dinner in northwest Indianapolis, or start in Indianapolis and take their meal in Logansport. 

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Film Photography, Preservation

Touring the Purdue Memorial Union

On my last visit to Purdue to see my son, he showed me around the Purdue Memorial Union. What a stunning building!

Purdue Memorial Union

Chicago architects Irving and Allen Pond designed the building, which was completed in 1929. Later, a hotel and a bowling alley were added to the structure. The building hosts several offices serving students plus a number of restaurants and gathering spaces.

Purdue Memorial Union

But I was just overcome by how lovely the building is, and how much care the University clearly has taken in keeping it in good condition. I admit to some jealousy — I wished the college I attended had a facility this lovely with this much to offer.

Purdue Memorial Union

I had a film camera with me, my Pentax KM with the 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax lens attached and Kodak T-Max 400 inside. That gave me shallow depth of field for most inside photos, but you can still get a good feel for the space in these photos.

Purdue Memorial Union

Below is one of the ballrooms. I braced myself against a wall for a long-exposure shot and managed to avoid camera shake.

Ballroom

One of my son’s friends is prominent in the ham radio club, which is headquartered in one of the PMU’s towers. Here’s some of their gear.

Ham radio club

My son also took me to an upper room, tucked away, that has a stage and this piano in it.

In the upper room

One of my son’s hobbies is to learn to play as many instruments as he can. He took a piano class last semester and wowed me with his prowess. He’s got a knack for music. He had his Pentax K1000 along, shooting T-Max 400 too.

Damion at the piano

He played me one whole song on this well-used old piano.

Damion at the piano

The stage is on the opposite wall, and because of the light streaming through it I got this moody shot.

In the upper room *EXPLORED*

What a lovely facility. Purdue students are so fortunate to have it.

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Film Photography, Preservation

Little houses in Fishers, Indiana

Ten years ago when my kids and their mom moved to Fishers, a northeast suburb of Indianapolis, its downtown was a few aging buildings and a lot of little houses. Surrounding it was clusters of new neighborhoods, modern suburban homes stretching for miles in all directions. Downtown Fishers stood in curious contrast.

And then, one by one, the little houses north of Fishers’ main thoroughfare, 116th St., were razed. Modern multistory apartment and office buildings were erected, forever changing this formerly sleepy little downtown.

But south of 116th St., the little houses remain. I’m sure that in the coming years they, too, will pass into history. I was testing a new-to-me old film camera, a Kodak Pony 135 Model B (my review goes live tomorrow), as I walked through Fishers’ near-southside and captured some of the scene. Look at these little houses while you can.

Fishers streetscape

House in Fishers

House in Fishers

House in Fishers

Five or ten years from now someone will stumble upon this post and be amazed that this is what downtown Fishers used to look like.

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Preservation, Road Trips

Madonnas of the Trail

In 1928, the Daughters of the American Revolution placed 12 statues across the United States to honor pioneer mothers, those women who, with their husbands and children, went out West to build their lives.

These statues were all placed on the National Old Trails Road, an auto trail established in 1912 to connect New York to Los Angeles. Future President Harry S. Truman headed up the National Old Trails Road Association and worked with the D.A.R. to have these statues erected, one in each state.

The National Old Trails Road was routed largely over the old National Road in the east and the Santa Fe Trail in the west. Today, very broadly, if you drive US 40 to St. Louis and old Route 66 west from there, you are on or near the National Old Trails Road.

Having driven the National Road from end to end, I’ve seen five Madonnas, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Although the National Road begins in Maryland, the National Old Trails Road left the National Road so it could go through Washington, DC. The Maryland Madonna ended up on the road in Bethesda, which is not a National Road town. Also, the one time I visited the Ohio Madonna, it was inconveniently placed and I wasn’t able to photograph it. It has since been moved to a park with plenty of parking; I hope to go back and visit it one day.

The various Madonnas are colored from creamy white to reddish brown, and several of them have seen restorations, some of them more than once. Here, then, are photos of the Madonnas I’ve been able to see.

Madonna of the Trail

Beallsville, PA (2009)

Wheeling Madonna of the Trail

Wheeling, WV (2009)

Richmond Madonna

Richmond, IN (2009)

Madonna of the Trail

Richmond, IN (2018)

Madonna of the Trail

Vandalia, IL (2007)

Madonna of the Trail

Vandalia, IL (2014)

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Preservation, Road Trips

Touring the Huddleston Farmhouse, part 2: the interior

The Huddleston FarmhouseI’ve stopped by the Huddleston Farmhouse several times on my many tours across Indiana’s National Road. In case you missed it, check out the exterior and grounds here. But I never managed to stop on a day when the house was open for a tour. When I attended the Midwest Byways Conference in August just down the road in Richmond, hwoever, Indiana Landmarks threw the doors open wide one afternoon for us attendees.

The ground floor, which used to contain three guest rooms, has been converted into an interactive educational experience about the National Road and its history. The top floor, which used to be bedrooms for the Huddleston family, is now office space for Indiana Landmarks and for the Indiana National Road Association. But the middle floor has been restored and furnished as it would have been when the Huddlestons lived here. First, the kitchen.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

Just off the kitchen is this dining room.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

After dinner, the family would move to this room to spend the evening together.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

And when the Huddlestons had guests, they received them in this formal parlor.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The Huddleston Farmhouse

The upstairs was not open to tours as it is now office space for Indiana Landmarks and the Indiana National Road Association. But here’s the staircase up there anyway.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

And the house’s original configuration included no stairs to the ground floor, as those were guest rooms and accessible only from the outside. But in the restoration these stairs to those rooms were added, so that tours could visit the ground-floor National Road exhibit without having to step outside first.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

If you’d like to tour the Huddleston Farmhouse, you can make an appointment. See this page for more information.

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Preservation, Road Trips

Touring the Huddleston Farmhouse, part 1: the exterior and grounds

It’s a commanding presence on the National Road, this, the Huddleston farm. It’s in Wayne County, between the towns of Cambridge City and Mt. Auburn, on the south side of the road. You first see the big house itself, built in 1841, as you approach along what is now US 40. It is just steps away from the road.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

When John Huddleston built it, the road was much narrower and so was a little farther away from the house. But the house was still plenty close to the road so travelers wouldn’t miss it, as Huddleston opened his home as an inn for travelers. He operated it with his wife Susannah and their 11 children.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

Travelers rested in the yard, on the porch, or in one of three rooms on the house’s ground floor. In those days, those rooms were accessible only from the outside. Travelers could also rent one of two kitchens, which I presume were in outbuildings.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

While travelers used the rooms on the ground floor, the Huddlestons lived in the upper two floors. A kitchen, dining room, family room, and parlor are on the middle level, and the family slept in rooms on the upper level. Later this week I’ll share photos I took of the middle level, which is arranged and decorated with period-correct furnishings.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

On the grounds you’ll find buildings that were a pump house, a smoke house, a large barn, and a small barn. The large and small barns are the two photos above. The smoke house is the photo below; it is a reproduction and the only non-original building on the property.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

Below is the pump house, built over the well.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

It was just a few steps outside from the kitchen to retrieve water. That was pretty modern in 1841.

The Huddleston Farmhouse

Indiana Landmarks has owned this property since 1966 and restored it in the 1970s. The house’s brick was originally not painted, but Landmarks painted it in the restoration. I’m not sure they’d do the same today, but the standards of preservation were different in the 1970s.

Come back all week for more photos from the farm. On Thursday I’ll share photos from the interior, the middle floor, which is furnished as it might have been in the Huddlestons’ time.

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