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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Copies & Fax

Copies & Fax
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2020

When I last used my Nikon F2AS, I worried that the meter wasn’t right. To keep testing it, I put some Fujicolor 200 into it, and found that it has indeed gone wonky. Sadly, I’m going to have to send at least the head out so the meter can be recalibrated.

I’d shot only a few frames of the Fujicolor 200. Not wanting to waste the film, I removed it from the F2AS and spooled it into my delightful little Pentax IQZoom 170SL point-and-shoot.

I met my son in Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood for a cheeseburger in September. It wasn’t so chilly yet that we couldn’t sit outside. After our meal, we strolled around the neighborhood a bit. We came upon this hardware store which was ripe for a photograph.

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Film Photography

single frame: Copies & Fax

An old-style hardware store in Fountain Square, Indianapolis.

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Mail Station

Mail station
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Panatomic-X (expired)
LegacyPro L110 Dilution B (1+31)

When I was a kid, the mailbox was attached to the house next to the front door. On summer days, when the windows were open, we could hear the mailman open and close its lid as he delivered our letters.

As a young adult with my first house the mailbox was on a post by the curb. I didn’t much enjoy needing boots and a coat to get my mail on winter days.

Now I live in a new subdivision, and all mail is delivered to a locked box in this building. We walk or drive over to it; it’s ¾ mile away. I know this is a first-world problem, but I hate it. I want a mailbox next to my front door again.

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Film Photography

single frame: Mail station

The central mail station in my subdivision, on expired Kodak Panatomic-X.

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The purplest house ever

The purplest house ever
Canon PowerShot S95
2020

My wife and I have been walking neighborhoods all over central Indiana for the last few years looking for one that gives us the most of what we want in a home and its surroundings, with prices we are willing to pay.

We’ve recently visited the Irvington neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Eastside a couple times, and we think this just might be the next place we call home. We’re at least a year away from being ready to move, though.

When Irvington was planned in 1870, it was as a town — Indianapolis didn’t extend this far east yet. Indianapolis annexed Irvington in 1905. The National Road, known locally as Washington Street, bisects it; a small business district with shops and restaurants lines this main street. To the north and south lie a network of narrow streets, many of them curved, a few of them still paved in brick. Homes are older, built between 1870 and about 1960.

This extremely purple house is for sale. I checked it out on Zillow — it’s lovely inside. But zomg, the purple. Now, purple happens to be my favorite color. What I’ve learned, however, is that a little purple goes a long way. At my last house, I used purple as an accent color in my kitchen, but used a particular complimentary shade of green much more. Purple mostly showed up in my kitchen in utensils, small appliances, and bakeware. I still have a complete set of purple Pyrex.

My Canon S95 got the color exactly right in this shot. Purple has not historically been its strong suit. It usually renders it as a purplish blue.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: The purplest house ever

A little purple goes a long way.

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Old Louisville is a neighborhood in, as you might guess, Louisville. You’ll find it just south of downtown. It’s full of late-1800s homes mostly in the Late Victorian style, with a few Italianate, Federal, Second Empire, and Richardson Romanesque homes in there for good measure.

Belgravia Court, Old Louisville

The centerpiece of Old Louisville is St. James Court, a wide boulevard with a grassy median and a copper fountain. The centerpiece of this centerpiece, however, is Belgravia Court. It’s at the south end of St. James Court. But you can’t drive this court — you’ll have to park your car and walk. It is two rows of houses that face each other, sidewalks and a grassy median separating them. Gas streetlights line the median.

Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville

Here now, the doors of Belgravia Court.

Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville
Belgravia Court, Old Louisville

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Photography

Thursday doors: Belgravia Court, Old Louisville

The doors of Belgravia Court, Louisville.

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Film Photography

Walking through Zionsville in the rain with an old camera and expired Kodak Tri-X

Wet brick street

I didn’t mean to walk in the rain. It’s supposed to be romantic and all, but I was alone, and I didn’t really want to be wet. But this shower popped up out of nowhere. It caught my Dark Sky app by surprise — it is very good about warning me before it rains.

Argus Argoflex Forty

I figured the rain wasn’t going to hurt my camera, a circa-1950 Argus Argoflex Forty. It’s a hardy little box. So I pressed on.

It’s also a reasonably capable little box. Its lens is sharp except in the very corners, and it offers a range of apertures and shutter speeds.

I was burning off my last roll of Kodak Tri-X, expired since June of 1981. After shooting my last roll at box speed and getting dense and foggy negatives, I set exposure on this manual camera as if this were an ISO 100 film, hoping for improvement. I developed in LegacyPro L110 Dilution B (1+31).

This roll looked far better than my last one — less grainy, better resolution. Fresh Tri-X would have looked even better, of course; these still look like they were shot on expired film. But I’m pleased with these results.

The Flower Shop
Black Dog Books
Five Thirty Home
One Nine Five
VW Bus
Downtown Zionsville

I shot this back in early July during a week when we had several pop-up showers in full sunshine. That’s a real rarity! I haven’t seen anything like it since I was a child.

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