Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dear Diary, I'm in love...with some houses on the near Northside

A few weeks ago I took a drive through the relatively new redevelop-ment project called Martindale on the Monon. I got excited. So I took another drive through, and then another--with my camera.

There is something going on in that neighborhood that makes my heart go pitter pat. New ultramodern design, blended with old homes getting a facelift, and with a fair number of new decent contemporary-traditional homes is making that a nice place to visit and I just might want to live there. I'm not moving yet, but if I were looking for a new place to settle in Indianapolis, this is where I'd be looking.

The development itself is interesting, with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, which comes with the possibilities of grant money for rehabs or new builds. The Martindale on the Monon project will sell lots or sell houses built to their specs. These houses are nice.

But the stars of the development are the very modern dwellings and the modern adaptations of some of the older buildings that have begun to dot the streetscape. According to Cindy Higbee at Martindale on the Monon, some of these homes are architect-designed, some are owner-designed. Take a drive down 16th St. and have a gander at the fabulous rehab of what appears to be an old firestation. The design touches that make this a stand out---super cool frosted glass entry doors along with groovy house numbers and a stainless mailbox have converted this abandoned building into a hip new home while maintaining original window and door openings and the building's historic integrity.

Across the street from the rehabbed fire station is one of the 'hood's modern, new homes. A cantilevered second story, shed roof, and a facade wall that has the look of a shogi screen make this house a sexy eyecatcher.

At 16th and Cornell is another modernist-statement residence. This 2-story brick has a center bay that projects above the flat roof and a cantilevered canopy over the entry. And the square, flat-roof garage is almost cooler than the house.

A bit north, Redev Group designed a tall, skinny house with side walls and roof clad in galvanized metal. Huge corner windows must make this home a stunner from the inside as well as the exterior.

Another gem in the neighborhood is the home designed by Mark Beebe at the corner of 19th and Bellefontaine. This small house reminds me of a teak box. Shed roof, boxed entry portal, and even the rear landscape design make it a stunner significant enough to be featured on the 2008 AIA home tour.

The neighbor-hood also features a stellar modernist rehab of the old National Auto Company into the Project School. The inspiring industrial building is a lesson in paying homage to old design with good redesign and reuse.

Martindale on the Monon is still sprinkled with its fair share of rundown, abandoned homes, commercial and industrial spaces. (Note to developers: if you get your hands on that little pagoda former gas station, please don't ruin it! Reuse, reuse, reuse!)

This is a neighbor-hood ripe for the picking and if I were you, I'd go grab a lot or an old rundown building and make something fabulous happen. Your neighbors have already gotten a good start on that!


  1. Nice post. I'm not sure if I dig everything here, especially the place with the plastic pipes sticking out of it. But I am glad there is a creative energy at work.

    I have long thought that pagoda would make an awesome ice cream stand.

  2. Kevin, I think those are actually wooden slats. That house has an unfinished feel about it. I hope some details are still going to be worked out with it. I agree on the pagoda would be a great ice cream or flower shop.

  3. Connie - OUTSTANDING ARTICLE. I love the old fire station property, its awesome. Any idea's on who the owners are and what their story is?

  4. That firestation is a great rehab. The owners of that property are a couple from South Bend. Parents of someone who worked for the Old Northside, I think. They have a home in S.Bend and this one in Indy. This was privately done rehab not done by the Martindale on the Monon developers.

  5. Thanks for pointing my attention to an neighborhood I've often read about but have yet to visit. Some of this reminds me of the sort of single-family modernist urban infill that's taking place in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, except that it's much more master-planned there, whereas here it seems more piecemeal. (Obviously it's not as much of a clean slate in Indy--no catastrophic flooding!) Hopefully the "spirit" of these project will encourage more adventuresome builders to stake out property in the area--such experimentation could become part the neighborhood's identity.

  6. I had the same 9th-ward impression when I saw some of the new stuff in this neighborhood. Three of the duplexes, which I didn't picture, especially reminded me of the stuff happening in N.O.

  7. Howdy!

    The shoji screen house was an architect/owner-builder project, by Dustin Eggink who works for Ratio Architects.

    The tall skinny house with vertical galvanized siding and dark horizontal cedar on the gable ends was built by ReDev, but designed by the architects/owners Jason Wolfe who works for Demerly Architects and his wife Veronica Vela formerly of Perkins VonDeylen Architects.

    I'm still scratching my head at the new house (cornflower blue vinyl) built just south of them. Whoever built that apparently missed the memo.

    Great post!

  8. Hey Z, thanks for that information. When I talked to the M on the Monon folks they couldn't come up with any architect names other than Mark Beebe. Glad to know a few of the others.

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