Film Photography, Preservation

A quick visit to Central State

I’ve written about Central State before — it was Indiana’s first residential hospital for the mentally ill, and by all accounts it was just as awful as you’ve ever heard such places were. Today, new housing is being built on its grounds, which should begin the gentrification of Indianapolis’s Near Westside.

A cluster of original Central State buildings remains on the site’s western edge. Some of them have been renovated and put to good use, and some stand still dilapidated. I visited recently with my Pentax IQZoom 170SL and made some photos on Fujicolor 200.

Central State
Carpentry hall
I wonder
Painted brick
Path to the abandoned building
1899
Dilapidated

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Downtown Stonegate

Downtown Stonegate
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2021

This might look like the heart of a classic Indiana small town, but it’s not.

Stonegate is a tony neighborhood here in Zionsville. The heart of Zionsville, the original town, is 3½ miles to the east. Over the last 20 years or so, Zionsville annexed a lot of land to its west as farmers sold out and developers built new neighborhoods.

As you drive (or, as was the case for me this day, biked) along Stonegate’s curved main street, at about the midpoint you come upon this little business district. These buildings are fashioned to look like they were built a century ago. They stand in a part of Stonegate where the houses look like modern takes on early 20th-century house designs — foursquares and bungalows with prominent front porches.

It’s all rather charming. It’s also rather expensive, but that’s life in Zionsville.

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Film Photography

single frame: Downtown Stonegate

A look at a fake downtown.

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Windswept Farms and my bike

My bike at Windswept Farm
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujicolor 200
2020

I put away my bike for the season the other day. It’s grown too cold for me to want to ride anymore.

I rode longer this season than I normally do thanks to Three Speed October. It’s an event put on by the Society of Three Speeds to encourage those of us who love three-speed cycling to cycle more in this autumn month. It’s not an onerous commitment: three rides of three miles or more, during any three weeks in October. The Society even defines October loosely, to include most of the last week of September and the first day of November.

I’m sure I would have given up riding sooner this season without Three Speed October. A few of my rides were a little chillier than I normally put up with! But I was determined to finish the challenge.

One of my usual routes takes me by this yellow barn. I had film in the Pentax IQZoom 170SL so I brought it along just so I could make this image.

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Photography

single frame: My bike at Windswept Farm

My old Schwinn in front of an even older barn.

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Photography, Preservation

Coxhall Gardens

It wasn’t that long ago that Hamilton County, Indiana, was mostly farmland. When I moved to central Indiana in the mid 1990s, if you drove north from Indianapolis into Hamilton County, city rapidly gave way to corn and soybean fields.

Today, it’s all developed. The Hamilton County towns of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville have annexed a great deal of the county and, one by one, farmers have sold their land to developers. Office buildings line the major roads now. Everywhere else you’ll find homes, ranging from inexpensive vinyl-village subdivisions, to gated communities of stone and brick homes, to sprawling estates. You’ll also find the suburban shopping centers that follow residential development.

Jesse and Beulah Cox foresaw this all happening. They bought the farm of original Hamilton County settler John Williams in 1958, and by 1974 they had built their dream home on the property. In 1999, they donated their property to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to preserve their land, to “create an oasis in a sea of homes,” Jesse said. Their farm, now known as Coxhall Gardens, is a sprawling park. It’s also one of my frequent photographic destinations.

Williams began farming this land in 1855, and built this house on it in 1865.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

As you drive by, this house is largely hidden by a row of trees. When the Coxes bought the property, they lived in the Williams house at first.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

The Williams’ barn still stands near the house.

At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Barn
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

Looming behind the barn is the mansion the Coxes built in 1974. (But first, they built and lived in a single-story ranch in what looks like limestone. It still stands, but I’ve never photographed it.)

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

I was surprised to learn that this large, solid home was built so recently. It looks like something from a hundred years before.

Mansion at Coshall Gardens
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

I especially enjoy the mansion during the warm months, because it is lushly landscaped.

Mansion at Coxhall Gardens
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

I don’t know the significance of this statue, but I like it and have photographed it a number of times.

Statue at Coxhall Gardens
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

I’m partial to this photo of my wife on the mansion’s steps.

Margaret at Coxhall Gardens
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

Not far from the mansion is the ampitheater. The rotunda-like stage is large enough only for a small performance, such as a musical quartet.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

Many times I’ve found people here making wedding photographs. This would be a lovely setting for an outdoor wedding.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Up the ampitheater
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

This monument to the Coxes, featuring their quote about the “sea of homes,” stands at the back of the ampitheater.

The Coxes
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

When you walk behind the ampitheater, you find yourself on a bridge over a large pond. From there, you can easily see the park’s two large clocks.

At Coxhall Gardens
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Agfa Vista 200
Concrete donut
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200

Here’s one of the clocks from a little closer. I don’t know what their significance is, but they are a defining feature in the park. Notice the bells below the clock. I’ve never heard them ring.

At Coxhall Gardens

This is the bridge behind the ampitheater.

Coxhall Gardens
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL

Finally, there’s a little “wild west” village in a back corner of Coxhall Gardens, which I imagine might be fun for children.

Wild Wild West
Rollei 35B, Fujicolor 200

You’ll find the entrance to Coxhall Gardens on Towne Road, just north of 116th Street, in Carmel, Indiana.

Reviews of the cameras used in this photo essay: Rollei 35B, Canon Canonet QL17 G-III, Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Pentax K10D.

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Copies & Fax

Copies & Fax
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2020

When I last used my Nikon F2AS, I worried that the meter wasn’t right. To keep testing it, I put some Fujicolor 200 into it, and found that it has indeed gone wonky. Sadly, I’m going to have to send at least the head out so the meter can be recalibrated.

I’d shot only a few frames of the Fujicolor 200. Not wanting to waste the film, I removed it from the F2AS and spooled it into my delightful little Pentax IQZoom 170SL point-and-shoot.

I met my son in Indianapolis’s Fountain Square neighborhood for a cheeseburger in September. It wasn’t so chilly yet that we couldn’t sit outside. After our meal, we strolled around the neighborhood a bit. We came upon this hardware store which was ripe for a photograph.

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Film Photography

single frame: Copies & Fax

An old-style hardware store in Fountain Square, Indianapolis.

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Bus

Yellow VW bus
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
2020

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for air-cooled VWs. As a small boy I used to sit on the front stoop and watch the cars go by on the busy road at the end of our street, and count the VWs.

It was the early 1970s, and the hippie era wasn’t over yet in Indiana. I remember a family up the street that had three teenage daughters who shared a white-over-orange VW Bus of this vintage. They dressed like flower children, but their parents wouldn’t let them paint the bus like flower children did in those days with big flowers all over it.

The mother of a middle-school friend drove one of these in white over blue. I rode in it a handful of times, the only times I’ve ever been in one of these. I loved its commanding front visibility and the relatively high seating position. In those days, regular cars rode so low!

When Chrysler introduced its minivan and it became wildly popular, I remember wondering why, as VW pioneered the form factor with its Bus. But Chrysler’s water-cooled, front-engined, front-wheel-drive minivan was a mainstream vehicle and VW’s Bus would only ever serve a niche.

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Film Photography

single frame: Yellow VW bus

A nice yellow VW Bus I found on a photo walk. I’ve always liked them.

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