Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

Inside the Orchard House

Someone I went to high school with is a professional photographer. One of her specialties is photographing impeccably decorated luxury homes for lifestyle magazines. I see some of her work on Instagram and it’s all so well done.

When Margaret and I visited New Harmony recently, we rented a circa-1840 cottage, a little nook for us to relax in. But when we arrived we were told that the cottage was out of order, and that we were upgraded to the Orchard House — two stories, four bedrooms, five bathrooms, all done up in period style. What an upgrade!

The Orchard House

The house is a little rough around the edges — it could use a little TLC. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying this giant house to the hilt. It made for a truly lovely stay for us. Here’s the view when you step inside.

Entry hall

My old high-school friend surely has expensive and expansive pro gear for her work. I had only my trusty Canon PowerShot S95 and available light. But through looking at her work I gleaned a couple key tips for appealing interior photography. First, go wide to get more in, but not too wide or everything will distort. I shot at 28mm for a commanding view. This is the parlor.

Parlor

Second, crouch down for a child’s-eye view of the room, so that vertical lines are vertical. Doing this also captures some details up high that you’d otherwise miss, like the canopy over this bed in the east upstairs bedroom.

Upper east bedroom

I’m sure my friend could give me twenty more pointers to improve these photos, but I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. Here’s my entire gallery. Click the < and > buttons to see all the photos, inside and out.

The Orchard House

Bonus: If you flipped through the gallery you saw the strange sink in the west upper bedroom. We’d never seen a sink that worked this way before! It has separate hot and cold taps with little holes in the porcelain where the water comes out, one set for hot and one set for cold. Here’s the cold tap in action:

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Preservation, Road Trips

Residential architecture of New Harmony

I’ll admit straight out that I know only a little bit about New Harmony’s history. Like every lifelong Hoosier I learned in the fourth grade about the 1810s-20s utopian experiments here. The first experiment, the Harmony Society communal religious sect, founded the town in 1814. Robert Owen bought the town in 1825 and tried again to build utopia around cooperative principles but after just two years he threw in the towel.

Around New Harmony

I suppose these log cabins represent the Harmony Society era. I have no idea if these are original or not but I’d guess not.

Lenz house property

Several brick and frame houses of the Harmonist and Owenite eras do survive. This white house, the c.1822 Lenz house, is from the Harmonist period. I thought surely I’d photographed it in good light, but this sunset photo is the only one I appear to have. Part of the very modern New Harmony Welcome Center is in the photo at left.

Sunset over the Lenz House

It’s not clear to me at all which brick buildings are Harmonist and which are Owenite, but the downtown district is full of them.

Around New Harmony

I wish I’d backed way up to bring the building below entirely into the frame, because I believe now this was one of the Owenite adult dormitories.

Around New Harmony

I gather that in the post-Owenite years, New Harmony tried to continue to lead in social and scientific concerns. It’s all fascinating, really, but more than I intend to cover here — check out the town’s Wikipedia page for a thumbnail.

I just want to show you pretty house pictures. I love an old house! This is the one we stayed in, the c. 1860 Orchard House, part of the New Harmony Inn. We had the place to ourselves for our long weekend. I’ll share interior photos in an upcoming post.

The Orchard House

Of all the other older houses in New Harmony this one’s facade appeals to me most. I love its porch!

New Harmony home

Many of the older homes are typical of other Indiana places.

Around New Harmony

I’m drawn to Victorians as I pass them on the street, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in one. They’re too fussy for me to look at every day.

New Harmony home

I couldn’t tell you the first thing about this house’s architectural style, but it sure has lots of interesting details.

New Harmony home

Finally, a Federal style house.

New Harmony home

As we pedaled our bikes around New Harmony we did see some newer homes, primarily in styles popular in the 1950s and 1960s. On the main drag I noticed at least one house that was probably no older than 1980. But for the most part, living in New Harmony means living in an older home.

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Personal

Who knew that a closet shelf could be structural?

This is the situation at our rental house.

A support beam failed under the house. The crawl space is too shallow to work in, or even to survey the damage, so we’ve had the floors ripped up in one room and soon in another.

This home was built in about 1890; the room with the failed beam was a later addition. As so often happens with older homes, investigating one repair reveals the need for several more. In our case, we found past repairs and improvements that weakened other support beams. One floor joist was cut in two when the last furnace was installed. Also, water damage has rotted the sill along one wall.

How the beam failed is a sad story. A couple of our sons ripped the carpet out. We decided to lay laminate wood flooring throughout so I stacked all of the flooring bundles in this bedroom. It was easily a ton of flooring.

One of our sons has a friend who’s experienced in construction and he was over to remove shelves from this bedroom’s closet so it could be reconfigured. When he knocked out the first shelf, this whole side of the house groaned and the floor shifted beneath him.

We think this is what happened: the foundation was already weak, and the walls were bearing a lot of stress. Putting a ton of flooring bundles in this bedroom only exacerbated it. That shelf had, in a way, become structural, like the keystone of an arch.

We’ve consulted with a structural engineer, who’s given us great advice. Our son and his best friend have enough experience in this arena that, with the engineer’s guidance, they can do the repairs — and turn this from being a major financial disaster into merely another demoralizing setback. They’ve expressed interest in doing the work.

But that’s a lot to ask of a couple guys who already work for a living and, in the case of our son Jeff, is about to become a father. We have other options, including hiring pros and just selling the house as is. I’m not sure what’s best. Margaret and I keep trying to talk about it but, frankly, it’s overwhelming.

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Film Photography

Expired Kodak Max 400 in the Nikon F3

Iron fence

Checking for a suspected shutter fault in my Nikon F3 I put two rolls of film through it late last year: one Kodak High-Definition 400 (see some of those photos here) and the other Kodak Max 400, photos from which I’m sharing here. Both rolls expired in 2007. I’m not a fan of expired film’s unpredictable results. So to me, the stuff is best used for a job like this.

Old house

The F3 went along on our day-after-Christmas road trip up the Michigan Road. All of these photographs are from the road, in and near Rochester. As I shared in this post, Rochester has a long row of lovely old houses on the road as you approach downtown from the south.

Fence

Even though it was midafternoon, given the time of year the sun rode fairly low in the sky and delivered some delicious light. The film’s colors all shifted a little, which is a hazard of being expired. But the Auto Tone tool in Photoshop fixed that right up in a second.

Catholic Church in Rochester

At full scan size you’ll see considerable grain in all of these photos. But at blog size the grain is managed well enough. I’m pleased that I was able to get a little blurred background at EI 400 with the 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens I was shooting.

Tree

On Rochester’s square, apparently Santa comes to visit in this little house. On the day after Christmas it had not yet been removed.

Santa's house

I also aimed the F3 at the abandoned bridge abutment north of Rochester, which I wrote about more extensively here.

Old bridge abutment

This is the Tippecanoe River, placidly flowing past the bridge on which I stood.

Tippecanoe River

That bridge, a simple modern steel stringer, features this plaque commemorating its 1982 completion. I love the typeface they used for the plaque.

New bridge marker

Standing by that plaque I focused on the memorials on the old approach, enjoying the ever-fading afternoon light.

On the old bridge abutment

The F3 performed flawlessly, by the way. My worries about the shutter were unfounded.

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Road Trips

The lovely old homes on the Michigan Road in Rochester and Plymouth

If you like old houses, you’ll love driving the Michigan Road through Fulton and Marshall Counties. The road is lined with lovely old houses in Rochester, Argos, and Plymouth. We stopped in Rochester and Plymouth on our recent trip. Here are some of the houses in Rochester. Click any of the photos to see them larger. (The flag was at half mast because of the death of President George H. W. Bush.)

Here are some of the lovely older homes in Plymouth.

That first photograph is of an especially notable house: that of Plymouth’s first mayor, Horace Corbin. Here’s an engraving of his house as it stood shortly after it was built.

I shared Horace Corbin’s story once before, here.

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Film Photography, Preservation

Little houses in Fishers, Indiana

Ten years ago when my kids and their mom moved to Fishers, a northeast suburb of Indianapolis, its downtown was a few aging buildings and a lot of little houses. Surrounding it was clusters of new neighborhoods, modern suburban homes stretching for miles in all directions. Downtown Fishers stood in curious contrast.

And then, one by one, the little houses north of Fishers’ main thoroughfare, 116th St., were razed. Modern multistory apartment and office buildings were erected, forever changing this formerly sleepy little downtown.

But south of 116th St., the little houses remain. I’m sure that in the coming years they, too, will pass into history. I was testing a new-to-me old film camera, a Kodak Pony 135 Model B (my review goes live tomorrow), as I walked through Fishers’ near-southside and captured some of the scene. Look at these little houses while you can.

Fishers streetscape

House in Fishers

House in Fishers

House in Fishers

Five or ten years from now someone will stumble upon this post and be amazed that this is what downtown Fishers used to look like.

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