Preservation, Travel

Homes in Lexington’s South Hill Historic District

Whenever we visit Kentucky, we are frequently struck by how many very old homes still stand. Here in Indiana, buildings from before about 1850 are rare. Not so in Kentucky — we’ve seen homes built in the late 1700s there.

The South Hill neighborhood in Lexington is just southwest of downtown. You can see the city’s tallest building, Lexington Financial Center, from all over the neighborhood — indeed, from many places in the city.

South Hill’s homes were built from the early 1800s through the early 1900s, and are a mix of architectural styles. Here are a few of the homes.

South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District
South Hill Historic District

Nikon Df, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor

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Just arrived at the club

Just arrived at the club
Canon PowerShot S95
2015

The Columbia Club is the best-known private club in Indianapolis. It is arguably the most visible, as well, given its prime location on Monument Circle in the heart of Downtown.

Its current building was completed in 1925. Designed in the Tudor style, it features a gothic arch over its entrance.

Margaret and I stayed here once, in early 2020, when her company held their annual party there. (The company’s owners are members.) I shared photos from that visit here.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: Just arrived at the club

A photo of the Columbia Club in Indianapolis.

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Preservation, Road Trips

Side-by-side bridges on Narrows Road in Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park

People come to Parke County, Indiana, for two main reasons: to see the many covered bridges there, and to hike over the hills and through the canyons in Turkey Run State Park. Within the park, you can hike to one of the covered bridges.

Narrows Covered Bridge

The Narrows covered bridge was completed in 1882, and is considered the first of J. A. Britton’s many covered bridges in the county.

Narrows Covered Bridge

Like most of Parke County’s covered bridges, it features a Burr arch truss design. Those giant curved members are the Burr arches.

Narrows Covered Bridge

The bridge spans Sugar Creek where it narrows, hence the name of both the bridge and the road. If you’re ever out this way, you can rent a canoe and paddle through Turkey Run on the creek. I did it once with my sons, and except for the fact that my sons weren’t interested in helping paddle, it was fun.

Narrows Covered Bridge

It’s easy to get underneath this wooden bridge, as a rocky path passes beneath it on its north side. If you look hard, you can see those curved Burr arches jutting out and into the rock on the far end of the bridge.

1958 bridge alongside Narrows Covered Bridge

A concrete arch bridge carries Narrows Road today. Bridgehunter.com says that the concrete arch bridge was built in 1958, while the Indiana Covered Bridge Society says that the covered bridge was bypassed in 1966. Perhaps both bridges carried traffic during those eight years.

1958 bridge

1958 is mighty late for a concrete arch bridge to be built in Indiana. It came at the very tail end of the concrete arch era. I’m surprised a common steel beam bridge wasn’t built here then. They became all the rage at about this time and are the main kind of bridge built in the US today.

Narrows Covered Bridge

If you’re interested in seeing this bridge, you can get there from Narrows Road of course, or by hiking Trails 1 or 2 inside Turkey Run. The trails give you these lovely side views of the bridge.

Narrows Covered Bridge

I made these photos in 2011 on a trip to Turkey Run with my sons. We went at least once a year while they were still growing up. I found them while I was culling junk and duplicates from my photo library, and liked them enough to share them now.

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Photography, Preservation

Beautiful old buildings in downtown South Bend

In the 1970s and early 1980s, my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, gleefully tore down as many of its old downtown buildings as it could. That’s how it seemed, at least. During most of my childhood, downtown was full of holes where old buildings used to be.

I didn’t much care in those days. My inner preservationist wouldn’t awaken for a few decades yet. But now I recognize how staggering a loss South Bend suffered.

One April day in 2010 I was in town on personal business. I’d needed a will for some time, as I wanted my estate (as modest as it was) to go into a trust for my children in the event of my death. My mom was a clerk in the probate court in St. Joseph County, and one of the attorneys she knew agreed to write my will for a nominal fee as a favor to her. It was a real kindness to me — even though I made good money, the majority of it went to child support and paying off the attorney fees from my divorce. Money was always tight then.

The attorney’s office was in the J.M.S. Building, on the northeast corner of Main and Washington Streets. (In South Bend, Main Street isn’t the main street; Michigan Street, one block to the east, is.) Completed in 1910, it is named for John Mohler Studebaker, at the time Vice President of Studebaker Corporation. It was the tallest building in the city then. The marble first-floor facade is not original; it was added in a renovation some decades ago. The interior underwent a renovation in the mid-2010s.

JMS Building

As you can see, I brought a camera with me this cool spring day. A friend had given me his old Canon PowerShot S80 as a gift and it had become my everyday camera. I slipped it into my coat pocket before I made the trip north that day. I had this blog then; I have no idea now why I didn’t share these photos with you when they were new! Better late than never.

The St. Joseph County Courthouse is on the opposite corner from the J.M.S. Building. Completed in 1898, it has been in use as a courthouse except from 1969 to 1971. The terrific Courthousery blog has the full story; read it here.

St. Joseph County Courthouse

This courthouse replaced one built in 1855 on the same site. The old courthouse still exists — it was moved to a lot behind this site! It was turned around to face Lafayette Blvd., which runs parallel to Main Street one block to the west. For whatever reason, I didn’t photograph the older courthouse this day — except for its cupola. If you’d like to see the rest of it, check out this entry on the Courthousery site.

Courthouse Cupola

I did photograph this 1889 church building, across the street from the older courthouse. It was originally the First Presbyterian Church, but today it houses a congregation called Ambassadors for Christ. This building also has a Studebaker connection, in that Studebaker Corporation co-founder John M. Studebaker contributed funds so it could be built.

Ambassadors for Christ church

Back on Main Street, I walked to the end of the block the courthouse is on to photograph the First Bank Building. That’s what I’ve always known it as, at any rate, as until the 1980s it was the headquarters of the First Bank and Trust Company. But as I researched it for this post, I learned it began its life as the Farmers Security Bank building upon its 1915 completion. I don’t know what became of Farmers Security Bank, but I do know what became of First Bank. They renamed themselves to First Source Bank around the same time they built a modern steel-and-glass headquarters on Michigan Street where one of the holes had been. The old headquarters remains, however, as an office building. It’s one of the most distinctive older buildings in town.

First Bank building

To wrap up my photo walk, I headed east to Michigan Street and then north to Washington Street to photograph the grand Palace Theater, which was built in 1922. In its day it was one of South Bend’s grand movie houses. I wrote about those movie houses here. Today, after a wonderful renovation, it’s known as the Morris Performing Arts Center. In 1987 — before that renovation, the interior not in great condition — I got to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen here. I told that story here. The last time I was inside the Palace was in 2006, when I saw the rock band Heart perform here. I got to meet the band that day, a story I told here.

Palace Theater

I was pleased to find these photos and remember this very nice day.

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Film Photography, Preservation

And to think that I saw it on Talbott Street

While I had Fujifilm Velvia 50 in the Yashica-12, I met some colleagues for lunch in the hip Herron Morton neighborhood of Indianapolis. I brought the camera along and made a few photos on Talbott Street before I went home.

Most of the houses and apartment buildings in this part of town were built around the turn of the last century. When I moved to Indianapolis in 1994, Herron Morton had declined badly and was not a place I wanted to live. Now it’s gentrifying and I can’t afford to live here, except perhaps if I bought one of the few fixer-uppers left.

Little apartment buildings of four, six, and eight units are common in this part of Indy. I imagine they were once even more common, but during the years of decline so many buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished. Even now, there are plenty of vacant lots on Talbott Street.

On Talbott Street

I photographed this house because it is so unusual. Flat roofs aren’t common on residences here.

On Talbott Street

Some of the vacant lots have new homes on them. This one at least sort of matches the design of the older houses. Some of the new houses are ultra modern and don’t look like they belong here.

On Talbott Street

Here’s one that needs some tender loving care. I’m generally not a fan of fussy Victorian houses but this one looks good to me.

On Talbott Street

I am a fan of American Foursquares like this one. I’d love to live in a house like this, and sit on the porch on warm nights.

On Talbott Street

That’s all of the photos I took on my brief walk along Talbott Street.

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Photography, Preservation

Coxhall Gardens

It wasn’t that long ago that Hamilton County, Indiana, was mostly farmland. When I moved to central Indiana in the mid 1990s, if you drove north from Indianapolis into Hamilton County, city rapidly gave way to corn and soybean fields.

Today, it’s all developed. The Hamilton County towns of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville have annexed a great deal of the county and, one by one, farmers have sold their land to developers. Office buildings line the major roads now. Everywhere else you’ll find homes, ranging from inexpensive vinyl-village subdivisions, to gated communities of stone and brick homes, to sprawling estates. You’ll also find the suburban shopping centers that follow residential development.

Jesse and Beulah Cox foresaw this all happening. They bought the farm of original Hamilton County settler John Williams in 1958, and by 1974 they had built their dream home on the property. In 1999, they donated their property to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to preserve their land, to “create an oasis in a sea of homes,” Jesse said. Their farm, now known as Coxhall Gardens, is a sprawling park. It’s also one of my frequent photographic destinations.

Williams began farming this land in 1855, and built this house on it in 1865.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

As you drive by, this house is largely hidden by a row of trees. When the Coxes bought the property, they lived in the Williams house at first.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

The Williams’ barn still stands near the house.

At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Barn
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

Looming behind the barn is the mansion the Coxes built in 1974. (But first, they built and lived in a single-story ranch in what looks like limestone. It still stands, but I’ve never photographed it.)

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

I was surprised to learn that this large, solid home was built so recently. It looks like something from a hundred years before.

Mansion at Coshall Gardens
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

I especially enjoy the mansion during the warm months, because it is lushly landscaped.

Mansion at Coxhall Gardens
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

I don’t know the significance of this statue, but I like it and have photographed it a number of times.

Statue at Coxhall Gardens
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

I’m partial to this photo of my wife on the mansion’s steps.

Margaret at Coxhall Gardens
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

Not far from the mansion is the ampitheater. The rotunda-like stage is large enough only for a small performance, such as a musical quartet.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

Many times I’ve found people here making wedding photographs. This would be a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Up the ampitheater
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

This monument to the Coxes, featuring their quote about the “sea of homes,” stands at the back of the ampitheater.

The Coxes
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

When you walk behind the ampitheater, you find yourself on a bridge over a large pond. From there, you can easily see the park’s two large clocks.

At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Concrete donut
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

Here’s one of the clocks from a little closer. I don’t know what their significance is, but they are a defining feature in the park. Notice the bells below the clock. I’ve never heard them ring.

At Coxhall Gardens

This is the bridge behind the ampitheater.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

Finally, there’s a little “wild west” village in a back corner of Coxhall Gardens, which I imagine might be fun for children.

Wild Wild West
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

You’ll find the entrance to Coxhall Gardens on Towne Road, just north of 116th Street, in Carmel, Indiana.

Reviews of the cameras used in this photo essay: Rollei 35B, Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Pentax K10D.

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