Photography, Road Trips

Ten years ago on the Michigan Road

It was ten years ago this summer that I surveyed the entire Michigan Road, a project that contributed directly to a later project I co-led to have the road named a Historic Byway in Indiana. My wife and I wanted to re-survey the entire road this summer to document it as it is now. Given all that’s happened this year, we have yet to start. Other priorities continue to fill our summer. We will be fortunate to drive one or two segments of it this year. Perhaps we can finish it next year.

I drove the road to South Bend last Wednesday for a Historic Michigan Road Association board meeting. I noticed how much has changed just on that section of the road in ten years. It led me to think about changes I’ve noticed as I’ve driven other sections of the road over the years. I’m itching to start the new survey!

I made a quick pass through my 2008 photos and selected ten that pleased me as photographs. I was a beginning photographer then. Have a look.

NB Michigan Road

Madison, near the Michigan Road’s southern end.

Fairmount House

The Fairmount House, Madison.

Stone bridge, Michigan Road

Stone bridge, Ripley County.

Michigan Road, Decatur County, Indiana

A curvy section of road in Decatur County.

Dodge in Pleasant View

Old Dodge parked just off the road, Shelby County.

Waterman Hardware in Five Points

Waterman Hardware, one of Indianapolis’s oldest businesses.

Dunkin' Donuts

Brand new Dunkin’ Donuts preparing to open — it has since closed — Indianapolis.

Bar-B-Q Heaven

Bar-B-Q Heaven, Indianapolis.

1884 building

1884 building, Plymouth.

Approaching South Bend

Approaching South Bend. The Michigan Road is no longer US 31 here; a new-terrain US 31 was built nearby.

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Ohio Theater

Ohio Theater
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

I made this photo on an impromptu road trip early in 2008, one I took to help me recover from a particularly stressful time. I drove the two 1830s roads that connected Indianapolis to the Ohio River at Madison: the Madison State Road (to Madison) and the Michigan Road (back to Indianapolis). It was my first trip along both roads.

I’d never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely it was. The streets of the old city were lined with very old homes and commercial buildings, some of the oldest I’ve seen anywhere in Indiana — and most of them had been either well maintained or restored.

Built in 1938, the Ohio Theater is a young building on Madison’s historic main street. On the day I visited it still showed first-run movies. But in 2016 the theater’s owners lost the building in foreclosure, and ownership passed to a nonprofit which occasionally shows old films and recently got a grant to determine what it would take to renovate this building.

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Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Ohio Theater

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Madison, IN

Downtown Madison, Indiana
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
2008

Yesterday I mentioned the Madison State Road, an 1830s highway connecting Indianapolis to Madison on the Ohio River. It was one of two such highways, the other being the Michigan Road. Indiana’s first railroad was built between the two cities, as well.

Madison was, in those days, Indiana’s largest city. It competed as a port city with Cincinnati and Louisville and was probably equally important to those cities then. So it’s small wonder there were so many ways to get to the state’s capital.

But times change, and after the Civil War Cincinnati and Louisville surged in ways Madison did not. It has had the effect of freezing Madison in time. Its streets are lined with buildings built through the 19th century, and most of them have been well preserved. It is a lovely town and well worth visiting.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Downtown Madison, Indiana

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Preservation, Road Trips

Burned Elks Lodge in Madison, Indiana, sees first hope for restoration in 11 years

Eleven years is a mighty long time for a burned-out building to stand — especially in Madison, Indiana, which is well known for preserving its historic architecture. Yet the 1904 Elks lodge has stood virtually untouched for years after a 2006 arson gutted it. Here’s what it looked like when I first saw it in 2008:

Burned BPOE

It stands on West Street, just three blocks north of where the historic Michigan Road begins and a block north of Madison’s beautiful and historic main street. Things were little changed when I visited again a year later:

BPOE

I haven’t been to Madison in a few years, but a check of Google Street View (here) reveals that a little work has been done on the building, including putting on a roof. And now Indiana Landmarks reports (here) that a Madison couple is interested in rebuilding the lodge to be luxury apartments. Here’s hoping they see their project through. Maybe next time I visit, I’ll come back with cheerier photos to share of this great old building!

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