Downtown New Augusta

Welcome to downtown New Augusta
Olympus XA
Kosmo Foto Mono
2017

While I was shooting up my first roll of Kosmo Foto Mono (which I review tomorrow — but for a preview, see my profile on the Kosmo Foto blog) I stopped briefly in New Augusta, a small town that has long since been swallowed up by Indianapolis.

I lived near here for a long time, and it became a place I visited from time to time just for photography. I wouldn’t mind living here. Even though New Augusta is surrounded by suburban strip malls on one side and light industrial on the other, when you’re on its streets it feels like a hundred miles from anywhere.

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Film Photography

single frame: Welcome to downtown New Augusta

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Preservation

The astonishingly beautiful Auditorium Theatre in Chicago

While Margaret and I were in Chicago last month we saw The Nutcracker as presented by the Joffrey Ballet. It was a lovely show, well produced and well danced. But I was blown away by the theater!

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

If you could count them, you’d number more than 3,500 light bulbs in that arch. Bulbs were in those sockets upon the Auditorium Theater’s opening in 1889, not ten years after the carbon-filment bulb’s invention. To counteract all the heat those bulbs generated, an ice-based air-conditioning system was installed. This was the state of the theater art!

But let’s back up a little, to the experience of entering the theater. Our seat was on the second balcony, so up the stairs we went.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

Each landing had a unique tile pattern.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

Low ceilings and dim lighting created a closed-in feeling.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

It’s deliberate, so that entering the large and airy auditorium creates a feeling of having emerged into the open. And then there are all those glorious lights. It’s quite a rush the first time, let me tell you!

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

All of the boxes were on the theater’s sides, as the architects wanted anyone who could afford a ticket, and not just the wealthy, to have great seats.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

I had concerns that our stage-left second-balcony seat would be so-so, but it offered a commanding view.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

The theater is part of a larger building that originally contained a hotel and offices. It was hoped that this building’s various uses would, together, keep it financially viable. It worked, for a while. But by the end of the 1920s the theater had run into financial trouble. It would have been demolished in the 1930s had the land not been worth less than what demolition was going to cost.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

The theater served during World War II to house, feed, and entertain servicemen. Much of the building’s ornate plaster work was covered; a bowling alley was erected on the stage.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

After the war the building fell into Roosevelt University’s hands, but lacking funds to restore and reopen it the theater sat empty until 1967. That year a four-year restoration completed, enabled by a committee that sought patrons to fund its reopening.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

Ever since, the Auditorium Theater has hosted concerts, plays, dance, and even the 2015 and 2016 NFL Draft.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

And there we were, ready to enjoy the Joffrey Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker. What a wonderful venue in which to see it!

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

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Old Point Tavern

Old Point Tavern
Pentax ES II, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar
Kodak Ektar 100
2015

I worked Downtown in 1995-1996, within walking distance of Massachusetts Avenue, which had only barely begun its revitalization then. Today, this avenue is one of Indianapolis’s shining stars, a destination for food, drinks and fun. In 1995, there were lots of vacant storefronts.

But in those days many longtime businesses still dotted Mass Ave. I lunched at the Old Point Tavern many times back then. Turns out it’s the second oldest tavern in Indianapolis, in operation since 1887.

Most of those old businesses have given way to of hip, cool bars, restaurants, and clubs in what is now a high-rent district. A few holdouts remain, including the Old Point Tavern. Today it’s well known for its delicious beef-and-bean chili. I also like to stop in for a whiskey these days — not because their selection is extensive, but because it’s the least expensive pour on Mass Ave. It’s not only the rents that have gotten expensive here.

Unfortunately, the Old Point will soon close. The current owners have had enough after 25 years. They also own the building, and will continue to own it as they lease this space to a restaurant operator who will open something else in this spot.

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Film Photography, Photography

single frame: Old Point Tavern

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Beautiful building on Bloomington's square

Graham Hotel, Bloomington
Pentax K10D, 28-80mm F3.5-4.7 SMC Pentax-FA
2017

While Dawn and I were on our road trip in October, we stopped in Bloomington for lunch. Walking around the square looking for a good restaurant, I photographed this lovely building. This appears to be the common angle at which the building has been photographed since 1929, when it was completed. If you search for it on Google, you’ll find postcards going back decades of the building in just this orientation.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: Graham Hotel, Bloomington

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Through the Construction

Through the construction
Konica C35 Automatic
Fujicolor 200
2017

Fishers, Indiana, is under construction.

Its downtown is, anyway. Ten years ago there were a few old commercial buildings by the railroad track and a bunch of low houses. Today the houses are all gone, and modern urban density is going in.

Soon this photograph won’t be possible; a building will be in the way.

Film Photography, Photography

single frame: Through the construction

A view that soon won’t exist anymore, as soon as the building they’re building here is built.

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Preservation, Road Trips

On the square in Martinsville

On our October road trip I intended to follow the old alignments of State Road 37 and the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis all the way to Bloomington. Modern SR 37, a four-lane expressway, is being upgraded to Interstate standards to be I-69, and that will certainly cut off easy access to many of the old alignments. I underestimated how much progress has been made — shortly south of Martinsville, construction already blocked off all access to the old road.

At least we got to see a little of Martinsville first, specifically its square. The courthouse at its center was completed in 1859, with additions built in 1956 and 1975-1976. It’s unfortunate that trees blocked the view on all sides, as it is a stunning building well preserved.

Martinsville

The rest of Martinsville’s square was a mixed bag of buildings ranging from dilapidated to gorgeous, with several vacancies punctuated by occasional businesses, including this one which had just opened.

Martinsville

This building originally housed the First National Bank of Martinsville. Remember when every town of any size had its own banks? Today, thanks to bank consolidation, few of those remain. I wonder how many mergers happened before this became a BMO Harris Bank branch.

Martinsville

I enjoyed this building’s strong presence. It was built in 1893 for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and looks like it’s either been well maintained over the years or has been recently restored. Its first floor is largely occupied today by a coffee shop that specializes in homemade cheesecake.

Martinsville

This building looks recently restored as well. I appreciate how the facade, especially the store entrances, retain a period-typical look.

Martinsville

I was especially taken with the sign painted on this window. While the metal beams behind that glass mean that this door no longer operates, and that the Martinsville Bowling Center is a thing of Martinsville’s past, it’s great that the sign was retained.

Martinsville

Other buildings on Martinsville’s square are in various stages of restoration. Here’s hoping the next time I come through on a road trip, I get to see a completely revitalized square.

Martinsville

Martinsville was so excited about the Dixie Highway, by the way, that the town immediately paved it in locally made bricks. The Dixie’s route is covered in asphalt today, but another local road remains paved in those bricks. I told the brick Dixie story and showed the remaining brick road here.

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