Road Trips

Movies on the Michigan Road: The Skyline Drive-in in Shelbyville

You might be surprised to know that 20 drive-in theaters still operate in Indiana. One of them, the Skyline, is on the Michigan Road, in Shelbyville. And it’s expanding.

Skyline Drive-In

Things didn’t look so good for the Skyline in 2008 when I surveyed the Michigan Road from end to end. I photographed its sign then — and noticed the For Sale sign posted nearby. I figured the Skyline’s days were numbered.

Skyline Drive-In

Joe Gaudin, an independent filmmaker in Shelbyville, bought the struggling venue. Audiences were thin for the first few years, but in time he turned it around. It thrives today. Gaudin told me that his theater draws devoted drive-in fans from a 75-mile radius.

I won’t tell Gaudin’s whole story here — look for an article on the Historic Michigan Road Association’s Web site soon that does. My wife, Margaret, has become our marketing director, and she plans to profile interesting businesses and their owners all along the Michigan Road. Shelbyville was our first stop on that tour.

Skyline Drive-In

But I will say that Gaudin believes adding a second screen will secure his drive-in’s future. He’s working now to make it real, and he hopes to open it during 2020.

Skyline Drive-In

The season hadn’t begun yet when Gaudin met us, and of course work was beginning on the expansion. This is what a drive-in looks like under those conditions!

Skyline Drive-In

Gaudin showed us the projection room. We got to see the modern digital projector, critical to the drive-in’s ability to show first-run movies. But next to it stood the film projector and its lighthouse. This is vintage equipment. RCA manufactured the projector in 1948. I didn’t find a manufacturer label on the lighthouse, but Gaudin said it dates to the 1930s.

Skyline Drive-In

The vintage equipment lets him run old monster and exploitation movies that never made the leap to digital. Those movies create some of the most popular weekends at the Skyline!

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

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Preservation, Road Trips

Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana

Margaret and I were in Shelbyville for the day a couple weeks ago to meet with a few business owners. Margaret has become the Communications Director for the Historic Michigan Road Association, and she is starting to profile businesses on or near the road for our Web site.

We got to town more than an hour early for our first appointment, so we parked on the square and walked around taking photographs. St. Joesph Catholic Church is an imposing structure on E Broadway St., which is also the Michigan Road. It towers over the surrounding buildings.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

As we photographed the exterior, a car pulled up and a fellow got out. He introduced himself to us as Jack, a member at the church. We got to talking and after a few minutes he asked if we’d like to see the inside. Well, of course we would! He called a staff member to see if a visit could be arranged. It was, and shortly we were in.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

It just goes to show you that you never know what beauty lurks in any town. Shelbyville isn’t the flashiest town on the Michigan Road, but my goodness but does it have this gorgeous church.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s stained glass windows are simply stunning. I did my best to capture the deep, rich color.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

I checked: Emil Frei and Associates is still in the stained-glass business, and has been since 1898. Emil may have been from Munich, but he based his business in St. Louis. Today, it operates in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

We were incredibly fortunate to meet Jack, who unlocked this tour for us.

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As the last of the Shakers left their central-Kentucky village — or died — in the early 1900s, their village fell into private hands and became known as Shakertown. Some buildings were given new uses, others were left to rot.

The same kind of determination and hard work the Shakers put into building their village went into restoring it. Some buildings were beyond saving, and some were already gone, but those that remain are a living look back into this religious sect and its way of life. Read a little bit about their history here.

Stone house
House
House
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Houses
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
House
House

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Preservation

The simple architecture of Shaker Village

A photo tour of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in central Kentucky, focusing on the many buildings that still stand there.

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Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

Cooper’s Shop
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL
2019

As we packed to leave for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill I considered which film camera I should take along. I still have 43 of them to choose from (full list here). It’s often hard to choose, and it was especially so this time for some reason.

I decided not to dither, and instead packed my digital Pentax K10D DSLR with its 18-55mm zoom.

The K10D was introduced in 2006, and the DSLR state of the art has advanced considerably since then. My wife’s six-year-newer Nikon D3200 can get some photos my K10D can’t, primarily in dim light. A couple of my dim-light shots would have been wonderful had they been less noisy and had I been able to choose a higher ISO for a faster shutter speed and less risk of shake.

But the vast majority of photos I make with the K10D are in good light, where the camera performs perfectly well. I love the warmth it captures.

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Photography

single frame: Cooper’s Shop

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Travel

A visit to Woodford Reserve Distillery

Woodford Reserve Distillery

My camera’s battery died just a few photographs into our tour of the Woodford Reserve Distillery, between Frankfort and Versailles in central Kentucky. It’s a shame, because the place is so picturesque. I would have liked to photograph it extensively.

The distillery is also historic, one of the oldest in Kentucky. Known previously as the Labrot and Graham Distillery and before that the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, whiskey has been made here since 1812. Woodford Reserve is a Johnny-come-lately on the scene, having been distilled only since 1996.

Thanks to my iPhone for making it possible to document this visit at all. Here are Woodford Reserve’s famous copper pot stills, and also my wife Margaret from behind.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Those pot stills make up only part of Woodford Reserve bourbon. The rest of it comes from the column stills of the Brown-Forman distillery in suburban Louisville, an hour to the west.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Its rickhouse, where the bourbon barrels are left to age, is unusual in that it’s made of stone. So many are made of wood.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

One odd thing I noticed is that barrels in the rickhouse, the ones I could see anyway, carried distillery number DSP-KY-52. But newer barrels, including ones recently filled, bore the number DSP-KY-15018. This must be something quite new, as an Internet search on DSP-KY-15018 turns up nothing. A search on DSP-KY-52 returns all sorts of references to the Woodford Reserve Distillery. I wish I’d asked the tour guide about it.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

As a fellow who is seriously into bourbon, I appreciate a bar with a wide selection that includes some esoteric whiskies. But Woodford Reserve is a very nice bourbon, and most every bar carries it. Anywhere I go, I’m perfectly happy with a pour of Woodford Reserve. Neat, of course.

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Nestled amid the rolling hills of central Kentucky, 25 miles southwest of Lexington, you’ll find a village built and occupied by members of the Shaker religious sect from 1805 to 1910. Many of the buildings they built still stand, most of them in restored condition. It’s a remarkable collection of structures, suggesting a large and vibrant community. Here are many of the doors from Shaker Village. It’s a tourist destination today; where you see Open signs on the doors, it means visitors are invited in to wander and explore.

Doors
Door
Doors
Door
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
View
Door
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
Door
The Trustee's House

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Preservation

Thursday doors: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

On this Thursday, the doors of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

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