Road Trips

New neon at the Old Style Inn

Logansport’s Old Style Inn used to have a great neon sign over its door. I was disappointed a few years ago to discover it had been removed.

Old Style Inn, Logansport

Hard telling how old this sign was, but it was a classic to be sure.

Old Style Inn, Logansport

I was pleased on my recent Logansport trip to find that the Old Style has a new sign in the neon style. It’s probably not actually neon — so many modern neon-like signs are actually flexible LED lighting. But it’s pretty well done.

Old Style Inn, Logansport

Margaret and I stopped here for dinner before we went home. Our server explained that the Old Style had formerly been just a bar. When it remodeled and became a bar/restaurant a few years ago, the owner felt new signage was in order. Here’s hoping the original sign was saved, and isn’t sitting in a landfill somewhere.

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State Theater, Logansport

Through the door at the State Theater
Canon PowerShot S95
2018

50 years ago if you drove through downtown Logansport, Indiana, you’d have found its streets lined with buildings. Most of them dated to the 1800s.

Logansport boomed through about the middle of the 20th century. Good jobs were plentiful in that railroad and manufacturing town. But as happened in so many midwestern cities in the late 20th century, the boom ended and good jobs dried up. Downtown vacancies rose and buildings fell into disrepair. A great number of them ended up being razed. Downtown Logansport is full of parking lots today.

Yet today Logansport keeps showing up on lists of small towns worth living in. The city topped this list at Realtor.com. I’ve seen it in the years I’ve been involved with Logansport through my Michigan Road work: people there want to be proud of the place they call home, and they’re doing the work to show it. The old buildings are never coming back, but those that remain (like the State Theater, from which I made this photo) are being restored. And where parking lots remain, you’ll increasingly find public art to guide and please the eye.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Through the door at the State Theater

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Road Trips

The State Theater in Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The State Theater has been a mainstay in Logansport, a northern Indiana town of about 18,000 residents, since 1940. In its heyday it was but one of several downtown theaters, but today it is the last that remains. And it looks mighty good.

State Theater, Logansport

It could easily have ended badly for the State. Several years ago the theater changed hands and became a live-music venue called the Shindig. The marquee’s STATE letters came down. Then that owner ran aground in his business. The theater’s future was uncertain until Kevin Burkett, who grew up in Logansport and worked as an editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, returned home to buy this theater.

Given that this theater is on the Michigan Road Historic Byway, I’ve driven past it many times and have made it my camera’s subject over and over. Here’s a 2009 photo I made while the marquee was lit.

State Theater, Logansport

Burkett has since become editor of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. He since established a nonprofit organization, The State Theater Preservation Society, to own the theater and carry on the restoration work. But he remains heavily involved. Among the first things he did: restore the STATE letters to the marquee. They are reproductions, but he still has the originals.

While much work remains in the restoration, cosmetically the building appears to be in good condition. Here’s the box office.

State Theater, Logansport

Inside, the concession stand features a popcorn popper that dates to about 1948.

State Theater, Logansport

I got a tour thanks to the Historic Michigan Road Association having a board meeting here. Burkett was kind not only to project our logo onto the screen, but to offer free popcorn and soda. I didn’t properly thank him for the Diet Pepsi he gave me.

State Theater, Logansport

The theater’s fixtures really captured my attention. According to Burkett, when the building was made into a theater, craftsmen fabricated all of the lighting on the spot. They are all unique to this theater.

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The lit wayfinding signs were presumably also fashioned on the premises. They all offer an Art Deco touch, but in some cases the original lettered glass was lost. Some of the replacements are crude. Here’s hoping that during restoration new ones can be made that match the originals.

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The State’s first-run-film days remain in its past. Today, the venue continues to host concerts, and now also live theater. Local theater groups and other arts-related non-profits are invited to use the theater for free. That’s a mighty good deal for Logansport!

Here’s one last nighttime photo of the marquee, which I made in 2011.

State Theater, Logansport

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Preservation, Road Trips

The beautiful Art Deco church in the small Indiana town

What was I thinking, photographing this Art Deco church building on expired slide film? I wanted beautiful photographs of my visit.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

Beauty is, of course, subjective. If you enjoy the color shifts of expired film, you probably find these photographs to be lovely. I guess they are, in their own way. I just hoped for realistic color and clarity, as I wanted to share this church as you’d see it if you walked up to it.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

It’s not that I couldn’t go back and photograph it again; Versailles (pronounced ver-SALES) is only about 80 miles southeast of Indianapolis. I’m sure I’ll do just that one day and get exactly the photographs I want.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

This church is named for its builder, James Tyson, who made his fortune as the first investor in Walgreen’s drug stores. Completed in 1937, Tyson built the church as a tribute to his deceased mother, a charter member of this congregation upon its 1834 founding.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

This carefully maintained building of brick, terra cotta, copper, aluminum, and glass famously contains not a single nail in its construction. Many of its materials were imported from around Europe, but the oak pews are of local timber.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

I was inside for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association; Versailles is a Michigan Road town. Two alignments of the Michigan Road pass through Ripley County, of which Versailles is the seat. The original 1830s alignment lies a few miles to the west, but the road was rerouted through Versailles at the dawn of the automobile era.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

Such an architectural gem is unusual for a small Indiana town like Versailles. Tyson built two other Art Deco buildings here: a library and a school. The church is arguably the loveliest of the three.

Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

Pentax Spotmatic F, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Konica Chrome Centuria 200 (exp. 12/2003)

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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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Tyson United Methodist Church, Versailles, IN

Inside Tyson United Methodist Church
Pentax Spotmatic F, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar
Konica Chrome Centuria 200 (x 12-2003)
2017

This is probably my favorite photo from inside the Art Deco church in little Versailles, Indiana. More photos to come.

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Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: Inside Tyson United Methodist Church

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