Preservation, Road Trips

The demolition of the Lafayette Road bridge over Eagle Creek

This concrete-arch bridge was in sorry, sorry shape.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

It had carried Lafayette Road across Eagle Creek in northwest Indianapolis since 1925. The southbound lanes had, at any rate; the bridge was widened to add northbound lanes in 1935. But in 2009, when I took these photos, it had been neglected for a long time.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

I think neglect was the plan. When Indianapolis merged with the rest of Marion County in 1970, there was no money to maintain all the infrastructure the city had just taken over. A few years earlier, this bridge was the state’s problem: it was part of US 52. But the state had routed that highway along nearby I-65 when it opened, and relinquished Lafayette Road to the county. And then it became the city’s problem.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

The city’s neglect ended up working out: federal funds became available to pay for most of this bridge’s replacement. Maybe that was the idea all along, because maintaining this bridge properly would have been all on the city’s dime. At any rate, the city demolished this bridge in March, 2009. I documented the whole thing in photographs.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

Several of those photos showed how this one bridge was actually two. You can see it in the arches. To build a concrete-arch bridge, a wooden formwork is first built on the site and concrete is poured into it to create the arch shape. The wood planks of the formwork leave their mark in the arch. Notice how this arch has a medial seam, showing that two formworks were used to build this bridge. The 1925 portion of this bridge is farthest away; the 1935 portion nearest.

Old US 52 bridge demolition, week 2

Old US 52 bridge demolition, week 2

The bridge’s deck was the first thing to go. Notice that the space between the deck and the arches was filled with soil! The 1925 portion of the bridge — with its former outer wall — is on the left. Notice how it’s narrower than the 1935 portion. The 1925 road was probably only 16 feet wide, a common road width then. But in the 1935 widening, the road was more than doubled in width, and the 1935 portion of the bridge reflects that.

Week Three

Week Three

Next they removed the arches one by one. I walked right out onto the bridge during demolition to take these photos. I can’t believe there wasn’t more security in place to prevent such things!

Week Four

And finally, the bridge was gone. The road remained closed for most of the year while a new bridge was built.

Traders Point, Indiana

Traders Point, Indiana

Here’s that new bridge today. As you can see, it has no arches; it’s a modern and unremarkable steel-stringer bridge. At least the railings are somewhat interesting. It’s altogether too common to use plain Jersey barriers as bridge railings today.

It’s sad that the old bridge was left to rot as it did. I’m all for saving old bridges. But the new bridge is wider, which makes it able to include bike lanes. Lafayette Road has them all the way to the county line. I think that’s a win.


Longtime readers with great memories might remember that I wrote about this demolition while it happened. See those posts here, here, here, and here.

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History, Preservation

Moving the 153-year-old Flanagan/Kincaid House

The 1861 Flanagan/Kincaid House has crept its way one-half mile to its new foundation on the grounds of Navient, a student loan processing firm in Fishers.

The house made its journey on October 4. I was in Auburn looking at old cars that day, so I didn’t see this house hoisted and rolled away. These photos come from Indiana Landmarks. But what a feat! With brick walls of more than a foot thick, this old girl weighs many, many tons. Every inch of the move stressed the structure — bending, twisting, compressing.

KincaidMoving2

Indiana Landmarks photo

Yet in every improbable photo, the house looks as proud and upright as ever.

Indiana Landmarks photo

Under threatening weather, the house made it to its destination on the Navient grounds. I couldn’t find a photo showing its placement on its new foundation — how do you line it up just right? Does a giant nudging machine to inch it into place?

KincaidMoving3

Indiana Landmarks photo

I spotted the house the other day as I whizzed by on I-69. My son drove, so I got as long of a look as I could at 65 MPH.  It borders and faces the Interstate, but a row of trees partially obscures the home. A pity, because its bricks would glow proudly if the setting sun could light its face.


Follow this house’s story: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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History, Preservation

Saved? The 1861 Flanagan/Kincaid House

Old house, Hamilton County

I’ve been following the efforts to save the Flanagan/Kincaid House, built in 1861 in what is now Fishers, Indiana. I had been curious about this house for years, as I drove by it frequently after dropping my sons off at their mom’s in Fishers. But then the house made news when the land developer that came to own it wanted to demolish it for new development.

Kincaid-interior-banner

Preservationists swung into action, aiming to move the house to a new location. They secured a site a half-mile away on the grounds of Navient, a student-loan management firm. They secured seed funding and kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to raise the remaining funds.

moveKincaidMap

Source: movethekincaidhouse.org

It’ll cost at least $115,000 to move this house. Crowdfunding hasn’t been very successful, but The Indianapolis Star reports that the move is scheduled for tomorrow, so perhaps angel donors have quietly come to the rescue.

Navient occupies a large parcel that borders I-69 between 106th and 116th Streets. The house will border and face I-69, which will give it great visibility from the highway. But it will be off any of the paved roads in the Navient complex, which will make it hard to reach. So it appears to be saved, but not in a way that is obviously useful.

I’ll keep following this move and report as the story unfolds!

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History, Preservation

Endangered: The 1861 Flanagan/Kincaid House

This lovely 153-year-old house is among a small number of houses from this era that remain in Hamilton County, Indiana – and it’s in very real danger of being demolished.

Old house, Hamilton County

As I said when I first shared this house with you last year, it stands next to I-69 on 106th Street in Fishers, which is a suburb of Indianapolis. It is surrounded by housing subdivisions and office parks.

Old house, Hamilton County

According to The Indianapolis Star, the land-development company that owns the property planned to demolish the house last week to clear the way for office and retail development. Fortunately, historic preservation organizations intervened, and are talking with the developer about ways to save this historic house.

The news report confirmed some things I’ve learned about this house since I wrote about it last year. It was built in 1861 by Peter Flanagan. Its brick walls are said to be 13 inches thick! The property passed through members of the Flanagan family until 1934 when Loma Kincaid bought it. Mr. Kincaid founded the L. E. Kincaid & Sons butcher shop about 20 miles away in Indianapolis. His butcher shop is still in business. It’s not far from my home, and I’m an occasional customer there. I love connections like this!

Kincaid's

I’m rooting for the Flanagan/Kincaid house, but I feel pessimistic for it. Fishers is experiencing explosive growth, making this land very valuable. Additionally, the Indiana Department of Transportation is seriously considering adding an interchange at 106th St. with I-69. Given how close this house is to the existing overpass, I imagine that project would also imperil the house.

Old house, Hamilton County

I hope that the preservationists and historians on the case are persistent and tenacious.


One of the oldest houses in Indianapolis is the 1834 Boardman House. See it here.

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