I grew up a mile or so away from this motel and its neon sign. I saw it a lot while I was growing up, and its neon was usually in disrepair. It made me happy to find it lit and fully working when I visited my hometown this day.
If you’ve never been to Plymouth, put it on your list; it is a charming small Indiana city. I came to appreciate it on my many passes through as I explored the Michigan Road in 2008. Its intact old downtown is filled with viable local shops; well-cared-for homes dating to the mid-1800s line the Michigan Road leading in and out. Terre Haute, Muncie, Goshen – they all wish they had a main drag like Plymouth’s.
Once I drove through Plymouth at twilight and Felke Florist’s sign was lit with beautiful bright red neon. I so regretted that I didn’t have my camera with me. And then on many subsequent trips through town, the sign wasn’t lit. But then on this particular afternoon it was — inexplicably, as it was four o’clock in the afternoon. Fortunately, my camera was sitting on the passenger seat. You’d better believe I stopped for this photo!
This bridge is a sad case. Due to deterioration, it closed to all traffic in 2015.
This road was part of the 1914 Dixie Highway and, later, State Road 37, southeast of Martinsville, Indiana. This bridge came along in 1925. In the 1970s, SR 37 was upgraded to a four-lane expressway between Indianapolis and Bloomington, leaving lots of curvy old alignments behind. The new SR 37 is only about 500 feet northwest of this spot. I explored them all in a 2007 road trip; read all about it here.
This bridge is on a short old alignment that provided access to some county roads on the north edge of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. While it was still open it got only about 500 vehicles a day. So it’s not surprising that Morgan County went lax on this bridge’s maintenance.
And now it’s closed to traffic. It’s all overgrown now; it looks like it’s been abandoned for decades. See it here.
It’s not clear what will happen to this bridge. SR 37 is in the process of being improved to become Interstate 69. Many of the nearby old alignments were or will be used as frontage roads, and have received improvements to support that. But project maps show frontage-road construction ending at the southern end of this old alignment. Will this bridge be left in place? Will it be removed?
One of the pleasures of exploring old highway alignments is that you’ll sometimes find old bridges still serving. You’ll find this one carrying State Street over Coal Creek on the south side of Veedersburg, Indiana.
This road was part of the 1914 Dixie Highway, a network of roads that connected Chicago and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. When the state built its first network of state highways in the late 1910s, it routed State Road 33 from the Illinois state line to Indianapolis over this segment of the Dixie Highway.
In 1926, as part of a renumbering of all state roads, State Road 33 became State Road 34. Probably in that same year it was rerouted about a half mile to the north to run through downtown Veedersburg. Then in 1952, State Road 34 was renamed again, to US 136.
This bridge was never part of the Dixie Highway or State Road 33 or 34. Rather, this bridge was placed here in 1963, replacing an older bridge. This bridge had served on some other state highway. It sometimes happened that the state would improve a highway and replace otherwise good bridges, usually because the road was being widened. This bridge was still in good enough shape to keep serving, so Fountain County officials obtained it and had it installed here.
Every year, historic preservation organization Indiana Landmarks publishes a list of ten historic places across the state that they consider to be “on the brink of extinction and too important to lose.” This year’s list of the 10 Most Endangered is just out; see it here.
Two of the places on this year’s list have found themselves in my camera’s lens. Traveling the state’s old roads as I do, I’ve photographically documented historic structures in a growing number of Indiana’s communities.
Mineral Springs Hotel in Paoli, on the Dixie Highway, was built in 1896 — before Paoli had electricity. So the owners built a power plant in the basement to light the hotel, and they sold excess power to their neighbors! Named for the area’s mineral-water springs that were thought to cure all ails, the hotel did big business for many decades. As the mineral-springs fad passed, however, the hotel’s fortunes declined. It stopped taking guests in 1958, although businesses populated its first floor for a few more decades. Today it’s vacant, its roof leaks, and many of its windows are broken. Indiana Landmarks hopes to find someone to restore it.
I visited Paoli during my 2012 excursion along the Dixie Highway in southern Indiana. The hotel sits on Paoli’s delightful square. Read about my visit here.
In Columbus, the Crump Theater has stood here since 1889. As you might guess from these photos, this is not the theater’s original facade. Indeed, the Crump underwent three major remodelings in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Its art-deco facade was added during the third remodeling.
The facade is distinguished by pigmented structural glass panels known as Vitrolite.
The Crump featured live shows until the 1910s when movies began to supplant them. Eventually the Crump became a movie house, and stayed one until 1997, when it showed its last picture. But by then it was already in deplorable condition with a partially collapsed roof and a non-functioning boiler. The theater has only deteriorated more since then, despite several attempts to save it. The city of Columbus would like to see it saved, and Indiana Landmarks is interested in finding a developer who can restore the building and find a good use for it.
The first two photos are from a 2017 and the third from 2008. Both times I was following the Madison State Road, an 1830s route that connected Madison to Indianapolis via Columbus and was an alternative to the Michigan Road, which ran through Greensburg and Shelbyville to the east. Somehow, I’ve managed never to document my Madison State Road trips, an oversight I must one day correct. Meanwhile, you can see more photos from my visits to Columbus here.
On our recent Michigan Road trip, we whizzed right by the South Bend Motel. It was cold, we were tired, and some of the neon was out on this great old sign anyway. Not much new to photograph. So these photos are from earlier road trips. Above, 2009; below, 2007.
Fortunately, little has changed (except the non-functioning neon). This little motel has been plugging away here for as long as I can remember. I grew up less than a mile away.
This motel is on the Michigan Road (and Dixie Highway and Old US 31) on South Bend’s south side. It’s always stood alone in this heavily residential neighborhood. Here’s a daylight shot of its sign.
Online reviews of this place range from “cheap but decent” to “dirty rooms and rude staff.” So if you ever decide to stay, set your expectations accordingly.
I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.