Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blog Interrupted

This poor blog has taken a back seat to dozens of other more pressing issues lately.  It's been months since I last posted.  But I've been busy working on a few things.  Here's a window into what I've been doing lately: 

A nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Christian Egly House in Berne, Indiana.  A beauty of a home with nice Free Classic features that is close to original inside and out.  Christian and Anna Egly moved into their house, which the local newspaper called a "mansion on the hill" in 1899.  Christian had just opened the Berne Hay & Grain Co. The business thrived, but somehow Christian's finances didn't.  In 1914, he lost the house where his family of 5 had lived for more than a decade.  It sold for $3,370 at a Sheriff's sale held on the steps of the county courthouse in Decatur, Indiana, to Jacob Neuhauser.  Neuhauser lived in the house until his death in 1942.

Christian and Anna Egly House, Berne, Indiana

I've also been doing research in mostly online archival materials for the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art.  I won't spoil their surprise, but there may be an architectural exhibit in their future.  

As always, I've been writing my regular "History 301" column in the Urban Times newspaper.  Most recently about how the City of Indianapolis historically used demolition as a precursor to progress.  And how that's not the case in the current plan to demolish 2,000 buildings, most of which are still in private hands and therefore won't be redeveloped easily.  One of the illustrations for how this city, in the past, demolished only when there was a plan for progress is the story of the deconstruction of the old Cyclorama building, which once housed a mural of a Civil War battle, to make way for the construction of the Traction Terminal and Train Shed. Designed by Daniel Burnham of the 1893 Chicago World's Exposition fame, and built to house all of the interurban and streetcar lines running into and out of the city under one huge free span structure, the trade of old for new made great sense and a good civic improvement then. Not so much these days when we're demolishing old houses to make empty lots. 

Indianapolis Star, July 17, 1903 

And I'm beginning research on Leslie Ayers, an Indianapolis architect who created the most amazing architectural renderings for the Indianapolis firm of Pierre and Wright, before branching out into his own architectural firm.  I'm just at the beginning of this research but I'm looking forward to learning and seeing more of Mr. Ayers.  His winning entry for the 1941 Indianapolis Home Show was featured in the Indianapolis Star article below.

There have been a few other things, like managing a Facebook page to raise awareness of the current plan for wholesale demolitions in Indianapolis. I think the name properly captures my sentiments about this plan: "Stop the Demolitions, Indianapolis."  https://www.facebook.com/StoptheDemolitionsIndianapolis

And I'm trying to be active in finding alternatives to demolition, not just complaining.  In fact, I'm about to leap into a very active role in making a bricks and clapboard alternative to demolition---partnering to buy and rehab a house that was on the demolition list.  I think she's got great potential.  No way this house should be demolished.  I'll try to keep you posed with pics as we make progress.