N. K. Hurst Co.

N. K. Hurst Co.
Reto Ultra Wide and Slim
Fujicolor 200

On the southeast edge of Downtown Indianapolis, in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium, stands the original home office of N. K. Hurst Company. You might know Hurst best for their 15-bean HamBeens soup kit. If it’s not available in your local grocery store, you can buy it and all of their other products at their Shopify site.

Hurst’s home office actually isn’t in this building anymore. They moved it to an industrial park on the east side of Zionsville, a suburb northwest of Indianapolis where I live. I drive by it on the way to Aldi, which does not carry HamBeens products.

I remember there being quite a kerfluffle when the land was purchased to build Lucas Oil Stadium. The N. K. Hurst Co. was on the south edge of the overall site. The authority that built the stadium wanted the land to complete a huge parking lot, but N. K. Hurst Co. did not want to give way. I’m sure billable legal hours ensued, but an agreement was reached that saved the building. After all that, a few years later N. K. Hurst. Co. moved its headquarters to Zionsville. The building is now used as an event space called The Heirloom, despite still bearing its N. K. Hurst Co. branding.

I made this photo with the tiny Reto Ultra Wide and Slim. The building’s corner has a slightly upturned look in real life, but something about the camera’s lens or how the film happened to be laying strongly exaggerated the effect.

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Photographs, Preservation

single frame: N. K. Hurst Co.

The original HQ of a bean warehouse.

Road Trips

The Michigan Road and the National Road in Downtown Indianapolis

In 2008, I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end, documenting the road and its built environment. Here is an installment of that trip report.

The Downtown Indianapolis portion of the Michigan Road follows Washington St., which is the old National Road and former US 40, west. Originally, it turned north on Meridian Street, went around the Circle, and proceeded to Ohio Street. It turned west onto Ohio and then northwest on Indiana Avenue. Unfortunately, that portion of Indiana Avenue no longer exists. But when it did, the Michigan Road followed Indiana Avenue to what is now West Street. To stay on the Michigan Road, you veer slightly left onto Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street, which used to be known as Northwestern Avenue.

Let’s start at the eastern end of this route. A couple blocks before entering the Mile Square, which is the heart of Indianapolis’s Downtown, the road passes under this hulking railroad overpass.

Railroad overpass at College Ave.

I’ve been fascinated by this structure as long as I’ve lived in Indianapolis because it is so imposing. Travel lanes are narrow, as this shot of College Ave. shows.

Railroad overpass at College Ave.

From about East St., Downtown looms. Since 2008, has been reconfigured to add a bicycle trail and Bus Rapid Transit lanes.

Downtown Indianapolis

The City-County Building went up in 1962 and is now the seat of the merged city-county government. Since 2008, the courtyard in front of the City-County Building has been converted into a park.

City-County Building

Indiana’s tallest building, the Chase Tower, is visible behind the City-County Building.

Indiana's tallest building

The Broadbent Building may look brand new, but its skeleton dates back to 1960. Once known as “the zipper building” because of its trapezoidal windows, the facade was removed in 2007 and this facade was put in its place. But what was here before that was a grand and imposing structure made of cut stone called the Vance Block, which was built in 1875 and razed in 1959. This page has photos of the Vance Block, photos of Washington St. in the late 1800s, and even one photo of the zipper building.

The Broadbent Building

Dunkin’ Donuts was preparing to open in this building on the day I took this photograph. The building once housed a Roselyn Bakery, a popular local chain that went out of business some years ago. The V-shaped sign is adapted from the original Roselyn sign. If you drive around Indianapolis, you’ll see plenty of these veed signs next to buildings that house any number of businesses today. Here’s a 1998 photo of this corner from when this building was still Roselyn Bakery. Since 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts closed. This space is now a Five Guys burger joint. Five Guys adapted and kept the big V sign.

Dunkin' Donuts

All is not bright and shiny in Downtown Indianapolis, unfortunately. Like most cities, Indianapolis lived through years of malaise, and much evidence of it remains. Since 2008, much restoration has happened and this block looks a lot better.


Indianapolis did not get modern skyscrapers until the City-County building was built in 1962, making this one of the city’s tallest buildings for many years.


This mural, “The Runners,” is by James McQuiston. It is on the south side of Washington St. just east of Meridian St. This mural was painted over in 2020, after deteriorating badly.

The Runners

The Victoria Centre building, which I understand is being converted into condos.

Victoria Centre

The decaying McOuat building on the left was supposed to become condos a few years ago, but those plans apparently never materialized. Since 2008, the McOuat building was restored; see it here.

Blighted, not blighted

I couldn’t fit the entire 17-story Merchants National Bank building, built in 1909 and now called the Barnes and Thornburg building, into a frame. This building’s first floor houses a Borders bookstore. Since 2008, Borders moved out and a bank moved in.

Borders in the Merchants Bank building

Until the City-County building was built, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, completed in 1901 at 284 feet, was the tallest structure in Indianapolis. The Statue of Liberty is only 15 feet taller! Imagine how, before Indianapolis’s skyscrapers began to be built in earnest in the 1980s, the Monument had to dominate the Indianapolis skyline. Today, the tall buildings block the view, unless you look down Market St. or Meridian St. at it. This photo looks north up Meridian St. to the monument.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

This building was the flagship of H. P. Wasson and Co., an Indianapolis-based department store chain that closed in 1980. It stands on the northwest corner of Washington and Meridian.

Northwest corner, Washington and Meridian

On the southwest corner stands the shell of the L. S. Ayres and Co. building. L.S. Ayres was Indiana’s premier department store for many decades, but consolidation in that industry and decreasing Downtown shopping ended this store’s Downtown days in 1991. Its suburban and out-of-town locations continued for several more years, but today the Ayres name is gone. All the former locations are now Macy’s. Today, this building is part of Circle Centre Mall. Typical of the mall project, the facades of many buildings were kept and incorporated into the mall. Carson Pirie Scott now uses the first three stories of the building.

Circle Centre Mall

Because the original route of the Michigan Road can’t be fully followed from here, I decided to stay on Washington Street all the way to West Street, and then turn north onto West Street. This is ultimately how we routed the Michigan Road Historic Byway.

Looking west down Washington St., all of these facades front Circle Centre Mall. The Indianapolis Artsgarden spans the intersection of Washington and Illinois Streets.

W. Washington St.

Here’s a closer look at the Artsgarden. The new Conrad hotel is next to it. The Conrad was an empty lot most of the years I’ve lived in Indianapolis. In the background is the Capital Center.


Continuing westbound on Washington St., the Indiana Repertory Theatre building was built in 1927 as the Indiana Theater, a movie house in the Paramount Publix chain. It was refitted for IRT’s use in 1980.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

The Indiana Statehouse was completed in 1888 and continues to house Indiana’s executive offices, the State Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court.


Standing quietly in front of the Statehouse is this monument to the National Road. It was placed here in 1916 as part of Indiana’s centennial celebration to commemorate the Road’s role in Indiana’s settlement. No doubt, many who came from points east followed the Michigan Road from here to settle in northern Indiana.

National Road monument

On the opposite corner stands the Old Trails Building, completed in 1928 to house the Old Trails Automobile Insurance Association. Washington St. was not only part of the National Road and the Michigan Road, but also the National Old Trails Road, which was established in 1912 and connected Baltimore to Los Angeles. Presumably, the insurance company was named for the road. Check out this photo taken just after the building was built.

Old Trails Building

Shortly I came upon West Street, where I turned north. This map shows how West becomes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street at Indiana Avenue. The National Road continues west on Washington Street, so we leave it behind here.

Military Park stands on the southwest corner of West and New York Streets. It’s Indianapolis’s oldest park, originally used to train the militia and, later, as an encampment for Civil War soldiers. It also hosted the first Indiana State Fairs. This shelter house is the current centerpiece of the park.

Military Park

Next: The Michigan Road in northwest Indianapolis.

I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.


The Circle of Lights

On this Christmas Day, I’m taking a break from my weekly Recommended Reading feature and am instead sharing some Christmastime photos I made recently.

Every year since 1962, the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strings lights from the top of the Indianapolis Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the ground. The Circle of Lights is visible for a good long way from Monument Circle, which stands at the heart of Downtown Indianapolis.

Here’s the lit monument from a block south, on the old National Road.

The Circle of Lights

Margaret and I walked over to the monument so we could photograph the lights, and the monument, up close.

The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights
The Circle of Lights

I shot my Nikon Df with a 28-80 f/3.5-5.6D AF Nikkor lens attached. I set the camera to choose ISO automatically so I could get fast enough shutter speeds, but it wasn’t perfect and about two thirds of my images were blurry. But these that turned out look pretty good.

As we walked around the outside of the monument, we noticed the patterns and pictures being projected on the Circle’s buildings. My favorite was Circle Tower, which reminded me of sticks of Fruit Stripe gum.

Circle Tower
Circle Tower

Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Harry & Izzy's

Harry & Izzy’s
Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK
Ilford FP4 Plus
Ilford ID-11 1+1


Despite what it says over the door, Harry & Izzy’s is a steakhouse. This building only used to be a jeweler’s. Actually, only the facade still stands here — a new building was built behind it. Harry & Izzy’s is part of the sprawling Downtown Indianapolis mall, Circle Centre.

Margaret and I had a Downtown night out not long ago. We saw a play and had dinner. Service wasn’t great so we didn’t linger for an after-dinner drink. The bar at Harry & Izzy’s had exactly two seats open, so that’s where we went.

Clearly, Margaret and I have relaxed our COVID restrictions. We are placing faith in our vaccines. When I’m eligible for a booster, I’ll get it straightaway.

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COVID-19, Film Photography

single frame: Harry & Izzy’s

Facade of an Indianapolis steakhouse.

Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Bicycling the National Road across the White River in Indianapolis

As I bicycled through Downtown Indianapolis on my way across Indiana on the National Road, I had a challenge to solve: how to get across the White River. The White River State Park and the Indianapolis Zoo were built over the original path of the National Road and US 40 there. I shared the history of this alignment, and the many bridges that used to cross the river here, in this post.

In the map excerpt below, the National Road (Washington Street) enters and exits just above the center of the image, but curves south to skirt the park and the zoo. The bridge that once carried traffic on the original alignment still stands and is visible in the image.

Imagery ©2021 CNES/Airbus, IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

If you read the post about the history of the road here, you know that the original path of the National Road here is now the walking path that passes by the NCAA Hall of Champions marked on the map excerpt above. Here’s the beginning of that path, which begins at the Eiteljorg Museum. Here, the path is part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

It also passes by the Indiana State Museum. I remember when this museum was in the old City Hall on the other side of Downtown. That was 25 years ago, and the new museum was built shortly afterward. I still think of this building as new, even though it’s not.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

The path crosses a road that leads to parking. Those are the signature Cultural Trail crosswalk markings in the road. This is about where the path becomes the White River Trail.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

The White River Trail shortly crosses the Central Canal over a narrow bridge. That’s the NCAA Hall of Champions on the right. On the left, way in the distance, is the Washington Street bridge that used to carry US 40. It’s marked by the rows of lamps.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

Here’s where the original National Road alignment ends at the White River. Once upon a time, there was a big covered bridge right here, on the left, at about a right angle to the riverbank.

Original NR path through White River SP, Indianapolis

From that spot I turned to the left to about the angle of the former covered bridge here. This was the view. My understanding is that in the covered bridge’s era, the White River was narrower than it is now, and the west bank would have been closer in.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

From here, I backtracked and rode over to the Washington Street bridge, which is now open only to pedestrians.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

Here’s the view from the deck, as I bicycled westward.

Washington St. Bridge, Indianapolis

At the end of the bridge I faced a choice: follow the White River Trail around the zoo’s north edge, or backtrack all the way to where I started and follow current Washington Street back over the river. I chose the former because it was shorter and avoided a lot of traffic.

White River Trail behind Indianapolis Zoo

Shortly the trail opened up and followed the White River.

White River Trail behind Indianapolis Zoo

Soon the trail met the White River Parkway, a local road. I followed it south to where it intersects with Washington Street, which resumed its original path following the old National Road.

Railroad overpass, WB Old US 40

Until this point, the National Road was pretty neatly an east-west road across Indiana. From here on out, it runs west southwest all the way to Illinois.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Film Photography

Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11


I tried developing Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11 recently.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

I had shot a roll of film in my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, an early-1960s viewfinder camera with a coupled light meter. I enjoy using this camera for its big, bright viewfinder and smooth controls that all fall right to hand.

Its one fault is that rewinding can be challenging, and I’ve torn two rolls of film now, including this one. I’m sure this isn’t endemic to the camera line; it must be something wrong with mine specifically.

Union Station doors

I had mixed results from this combo. I can’t tell whether the Contessa is overexposing, or I underdeveloped. The negatives have good density. And an old selenium meter tends to grow weaker with age, leading to underexposure.

The Slippery Noodle

There are so many variables in getting an image. When one doesn’t turn out, I can hardly tell what went wrong. It’s kind of frustrating. My Contessa isn’t getting any younger and may be showing signs of failure. Or I could have miscalculated the development time given that my developer was 22.4° Celsius thanks to the ambient temperature of my warm master bathroom.

On South Meridian Street

I got okay tonality and sharpness with this film in ID-11. After I dialed in my development techniques, I got more pleasing results from HC-110. I like how HC-110 keeps for a good long time, and how little of the concentrate you need to develop a roll.


ID-11, and its Kodak analog D-76, is the developer most people start with and stay with, however. I can see why. Let’s say I left these in the developer for a little too little time. I still got images I could use. HC-110 and Rodinal have much shorter development times, which means it’s much more important to get the time right.

Harry & Izzy's

I bought a 1L packet of ID-11 and I’m burning through it quickly. I haven’t had enough time with this developer to evaluate it well. But I have fresh bottles of HC-110 and Rodinal waiting their turns. I have enough ID-11 to develop about one more roll, and after that it’s back to those other two developers.

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