Road Trips

Historical structures on the Michigan Road in northwest Indianapolis

On my recent bike ride up the Michigan Road pedestrian trail in northwest Indianapolis, I passed a number of historical structures that I photographed when I surveyed the Michigan Road in 2008. Surprisingly, they have changed very little! Here are some then-and-now photos where the then and the now are pretty similar.

While the old Crooked Creek School building was demolished in the 1980s, the entrance arch remains allegedly on its original spot just north of Kessler Boulevard. Here it is in 2008.

School No. 7 / Crooked Creek Elementary School

And here it is in 2017. Sadly, the top of the structure is a little damaged. How does damage like that even happen?

Arch at Crooked Creek School

This 1840s farmhouse at 6358 Michigan Road was vacant and for sale in 2008.

1840s farmhouse, 64th and Michigan

It remained vacant for a long time before someone finally bought it and lived in it. I think it’s been sold one more time since then. I live around the corner from this house and drive by frequently. I’ve watched many exterior improvements be made — all faithful, thanks to protective covenants Indiana Landmarks placed on the house.

1840s farmhouse

A you-pick blueberry patch went in next door. It is kind of startling to find such a thing within the city limits! I’m pretty sure it’s run by the people in this old farmhouse.

Blueberry patch

The Aston Inn at 6620 Michigan Road was built in 1852 and, for a time, served as an inn for travelers. In those days, it was still a full day’s journey from here to downtown Indianapolis! Here are my 2008 photos.

Aston Inn

Aston Inn

Little has changed in 2017, except that the trees and shrubs in front of the house have grown to block the house. I’m sure the owners hope the greenery will turn down the volume on the traffic noise from always-busy Michigan Road. But it’s a shame not to be able to fully see this great old house.

Aston Inn

Aston Inn

In Augusta, the 1832 Boardman House, at 7716 Michigan Road (right), stands next to this block house that looks to be from the early 20th century. I photographed it in 2008 both before and after the owner de-ivied it.

Augusta

Augusta - Bordman House

Boardman House de-ivied

Boardman House

I met the owner of this house once and he said that it is an extremely sturdily built structure, with walls a foot thick (I think) on the bottom story and hand-hewn exposed beams overhead in the cellar. He has since sold the house. The new owner has cleaned the place up nicely. The block house has been de-ivied, as well.

House in Augusta

The Boardman House

The Boardman House

Across the street, at 7711 Michigan Road, stands this little structure that I feel certain is a log cabin beneath that siding, which looks from a distance to be aluminum. The shape of the house suggests it strongly. The center door is flanked by windows. There’s a large space above the door and windows before the roof begins, suggesting a typical loft above the ground floor. The sloping-roof addition is a classic way to expand a log cabin. I first photographed this house in 2010.

Log cabin?

In 2017, the siding is dirty and the gutter is hanging low — time for a little basic maintenance. But the house still stands. And I’m still dying to know whether I’m right. I hope the owner stumbles upon this post and leaves a comment.

Possible log cabin

Here’s hoping that I can come back with my camera in another nine years and find all of these structures still in good condition.

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History, Photography, Preservation

Touring Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

It stands like a monument, this Art Moderne building on Indianapolis’s Northwestside.

Heslar Naval Armory

The first time I saw the Heslar Naval Armory was 20 years ago. I had a job Downtown and I drove I-65 every day to my suburban home. But a major project closed the highway for a couple months, and the detour led drivers west along 30th Street. At the White River, 29th and 30th Streets share a bridge. The Armory is nestled where the street curves to meet the bridge.

heslarmap

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

From a distance, it appears to stand right in the middle of 30th Street. As I approached it for the first time I couldn’t believe not only that it existed, but also that it was in this rough neighborhood of factories and low houses in ill repair. (It wasn’t always this way. The neighborhood used to be solidly middle class. And at one time, the region east of the armory and north of 30th St. was a popular amusement park!)

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

The armory was built in 1936 as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. It was designed by architects Ben Bacon and John Parrish to serve as a naval training facility, offering everything a sailor would find on a ship. Walking through, every detail affirms the building’s naval purposes.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

Perhaps the armory’s most important days came during World War II, when its inland location away from high surveillance on the coasts made it an attractive place for generals and admirals to plan their campaigns. Key portions of the Battle of Normandy were planned here.

We toured the armory late last year thanks to Indiana Landmarks, which became involved with the building after the Navy (and the Marines, who in later years shared the space) decommissioned the building and moved out. Our tour took us through the mess hall. Tables and chairs had been removed, but the nautical decorative details were still in place.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

Even the mess hall’s light fixtures were cool: little globes.

Globe Light

One more shot of the lights, because they’re so interesting.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

The third floor includes this little bar, a space for officers only back in the day. Notice the porthole windows in the doors. This was a feature throughout the building.

Heslar Naval Armory

Even the bar carried strong naval themes.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

Much of the armory is given over to offices, but it does also include a gymnasium. The deck on which I stood to take this photograph is an open bridge that was used in training exercises. I wish I thought to photograph it from below!

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

The armory’s most remarkable feature was its submarine simulation area. It can be flooded! A training exercise apparently involved sailors trying to figure out how to stop water from coming in.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

It was a pretty cramped space, but our tour guide assured us that a submarine is even more cramped.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

This first-floor space even had steps and a hatch up to the second floor. It was cordoned off for us tourists, but I’m sure that sailors who didn’t figure out how to stop the water from coming in were grateful to have it.

Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis

The armory is named for Ola Fred Heslar, born in Brazil, Indiana in 1891. His tour of duty with the Navy began in 1907 and continued into the Naval Reserves in 1922, where he was named Chief of Naval Affairs for Indiana. He oversaw the construction of this armory. Heslar returned to active duty during World War II and took command of the armory. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1944. He died in 1970.

Indiana Landmarks brokered a deal for Herron High School, a classical liberal-arts college-preparatory charter school on Indianapolis’s Old Northside, to buy the building. Herron’s building has long been at capacity, and they wanted a second campus to carry on their mission. They’re renovating it now, including tearing out some interior walls, to open it as Riverside High School. Because Indiana Landmarks is involved, all construction will keep the building’s outstanding architectural features. Riverside High School hopes to take in its first students in the fall of 2017.

iPhone 6s and Canon A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF, Kodak Tri-X.

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Second Pres

Second Presbyterian
Minolta Hi-Matic 7
Fujicolor 200
2011

Looking through old photos I came upon the last shots I made with my wonderful Minolta Hi-Matic 7. What a problem: to have so many cameras you can’t possibly shoot all the good ones enough. And seeing this photo reminds me that I haven’t been over to this wonderful church for a photo session in a few years.

Photography
Image

The Bungalow Inc

The Bungalow, Inc.
Kodak VR35 K40
Fujicolor 200 (I think)
2011

Of late I’ve been either busy, or ill, or busy and ill. It’s left little energy for photography. So to feed the blog I’ve been trawling through my photo archive for ones that please me. My mom bought me my first Kodak VR35 K40 new in the late 80s. Though it was just a point and shoot, it was the nicest camera I ever owned and it always did reasonable work. I don’t know what became of it. I paid a couple bucks for this one at Goodwill.

Photography
Image

Glencoe

Glencoe
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Foma Fomapan 200
2016

Photography
Image
Preservation

Touring the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Indianapolis

First Church of Christ, Scientist

It was built on the Old Northside of Indianapolis in 1912 to serve as Second Church of Christ, Scientist. In 1968, the Christian Scientists moved out and a Baptist congregation moved in for about 10 years before yielding to Jehovah’s Witnesses. And then this year the Witnesses sold this striking, even imposing building to a large multi-site Christian Church from central Indiana, which is now preparing to use it as its Downtown campus.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is the same large multi-site Christian Church where Margaret is Director of Facilities. She had been issued a key. We went in to look about.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The place was immaculate and looked freshly painted. Carpets, seats, and other wear items all looked like new. Jehovah’s Witnesses took very good care of the property. So good that Margaret’s church will have to do very little to this space to begin to worship here.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The Witnesses left quite a bit behind, far more than just these knick-knacks on the foyer fireplaces. The lower level is full of tables and chairs, all set up and ready for a large crowd to come for a meal. Closets are full of cleaning supplies, including a dozen or so vacuum cleaners. A mixing board was left in the sound booth. And there are three furnished apartments in this building, with bedrooms and kitchens and living rooms. The kitchen drawers are full of cookware and tableware!

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Remember the split-level homes so popular in the 1970s? Well, this is a split-level church. You go up a half level into the auditorium or down a half level into the fellowship area.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is a formal structure, inside and out, befitting a building built in the neoclassical revival style. It was designed by Spencer Solon Beman, an architect from Chicago.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

What I liked most about the auditorium is how well lit it was on this bright day. We didn’t turn on a light anywhere.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Most of the rest of the building was unremarkable, so I didn’t photograph much beyond the foyer and the auditorium. And being such a clean, classical design, there weren’t many details to focus on. But I did capture this light in the balcony.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

And I photographed this window, as this pattern was a theme in all of the windows visible from the street and in many of the external visual details.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

I love how the light diffuses through these windows and leaves a gentle reflection. The foyer and auditorium make pleasing use of natural outside light everywhere. It makes for a lovely worship space.

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