30 June 2010

Celebrating the 4th

Over the course of the next several days I plan to post pictures from our travels through this great country of ours, along with some patriotic images in celebration of Independence Day. I've also added about an hour's worth of patriotic music on the playlist accompanying HH....so, sit back and enjoy!

27 June 2010

Marshall County Courthouse, 1872

Last month I put a photo on HH asking readers to guess where I was. Well, here's the answer: the Marshall County Courthouse spire's walking deck hatch. No, I did not go out onto the walking deck-in fact, since the railing is gone, I'm not so sure that anyone would attempt that!

The Marshall County Courthouse was designed by Gurdon Randall, a Vermont native who relocated to Chicago practicing architecture during the city's "rebuilding" after the great fire. The building was completed two years later-this photo is believed to have been taken shortly after construction was complete: note that the clock hands are still not in place and it appears a dedication platform (or hangman's noose?) is located near the base of the building. The Marshall County Courthouse has the distinction of being only 1 of 2 courthouses that sit in squares platted in residential districts rather than commercial districts (although the courthouse faces Center Street, the primary "civic" street in Plymouth, lined by churches, the old city hall, and library). Where is the other residentially placed courthouse? Fowler, in Benton County. Guess who the architect of that courthouse was? If you guessed Randall, that would be correct. Randall was commissioned to design two Indiana county courthouses-Marshall and Benton.

The Marshall County Courthouse, while in the terribly popular style of the era, Italianate (and looking very similar to Benton's), escaped the style applied to most Indiana courthouses. Most were designed in the Greek Revival style pre-1870 or in the Romanesque, Late Gothic or Neo-Classical styles that dominated county building programs from the 1890s-1910s. These later courthouses typically replaced aging courthouses built during the middle part of the 1800s. Marshall County's was too new to replace.

But it still needed "modernizing", so in 1916 the interior was refurbished with the addition of a significant amount of marble and mosaic tile that give the building its current interior appearance. While the 1916 renovation made lasting changes, the ceiling frescoes in the main courtroom are original to 1872 and depict the sitting governor of the time and Chief Justice Marshall, a member of the supreme court for whom the county was named. The state seal and a painting of wise King Solomon are also in the courtroom.

I was asked to help gather information for the state-wide survey of our historic courthouses which provided the opportunity to take the nickle tour. The hatch from which I shot the picture upward toward finial is approximately 100' or more above ground....and I think I could see to the next county over.

23 June 2010

a redneck-deck

We don't have a deck at our house. Well, there are a lot of things we don't have. But without a real porch, or deck, it seems a crime to be living in the country. We do have, however, an old hay wagon that was parked on the hill in the barn pasture-not far from the barn. And so, this became our deck.

And what a great view we had from our redneck deck. We've watched the trees leaf out, pasture grass grow up around it, and the soybeans pop up in the field. I've watched the sun rise and set on our deck, had picnics and good 'ol family time perched there on the hill.

It hadn't looked like the deck, I mean hay wagon, had been moved in years and considerable decay from lack of care was setting in. My father-in-law, looking for things to do on the farm, insisted that he make repairs to the wagon and we complied with the instruction it had to be put right back where he found it. So, he came out last week and hooked it up to the tractor (with help from our cash-rent farmer) and hauled it down the hill to powerwash in prep for sealing, painting and repair. We wanted it to dry so he backed it into the barn with guidance from me.

The next day I thanked the cash-rent farmer for helping him hook up the wagon. He wanted it out of the way to bail the hay anyway. I said, that wagon isn't your's is it? in a joking manner. Well, it's my boys, he said. What? We had big plans for our wagon/redneck deck and I want it right back where we had it. So, now I've got to figure out what this thing is worth to the farmer's son. I'm guessing use of the property for virtually free should go a long way, but I don't know. I do know that we're not making any more repairs on it until we get this sorted out!

08 June 2010

Deco Lincoln?

The Lincoln Tower

One of 7 bronze panels of Lincoln

Clearly I haven't explored downtown Fort Wayne enough. This is what I learned from a recent trip to the old fort city last week when I managed a very brief walking tour of about 2 blocks of their downtown. The biggest treat for me, even though I had an abbreviated tour of their old City Hall building turned historical society, was the Lincoln Tower on Berry Street.

Lobby with "frozen fountain"

Interiors of banking lobby

Construction began in October of 1929. Does that ring any bells? It was completed a year later at the cost of $1.3 million. Called the Lincoln Tower, the building has amazing bronze panels depicting the life of President Lincoln. This building is Art Deco at its finest and seeing Lincoln in Deco-esque is an interesting treat indeed. The interior of the lobby included the frozen fountain and Deco-inspired lotus flowers that are a standard of the style. The main banking lobby is a cathedral itself with tall, light accentuated ribbing two stories in height and fantastic murals at each end. The space was one of the most inspiring indoor rooms I have experienced in Indiana. The building, when constructed, was the tallest building in Indiana.

Allen County Courthouse (above)
Anthony Wayne Building (below)

Other inspiring buildings in downtown Ft. Wayne include the Allen County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, the Anthony Wayne Building (Jetson-esque), and the old City Hall, designed by Wing & Mahurin (a Ft. Wayne architectural firm famous throughout the Hoosier state for schools, courthouses and county asylums). I included the photo of the old city hall's dedication plaque because it is clear from the letter styling that the Art Nouveau movement was coming to the surface in Indiana when the building was constructed, even though the building itself does not represent the style. The way in which the letters are carved organically inter-twined over the entry also recalls the style.

01 June 2010

small (very small) town parade on Memorial Day

Tyner, Indiana. It's a small, small town-population I'd guess less than 200. The little community started having Memorial Day parades a few years ago now-usually only about 5 entries and maybe 50 observers. I was invited to the parade by one of its faithful yesterday and she said they were going to have an astonishing 60 entries AND a flyover!

Here is a historic photo of Tyner. I think the only building still standing from when this picture was taken is the block building in the middle of the left hand side of the photo. The "new" grocery is located where the smaller frame building is in the right side of the photo.

The Independent Order of OddFellows-Tyner Lodge #821 is one of only a few remaining IOOF chapters around these parts. The Tyner Oddfellows are famous for one thing: Fish Frys...which prompted this "mobile fyer".

So, I talked the family into going to the parade. The kids were excited about the potential for candy. We drove into the town that is at the crossroads of two county roads, no highways, and as we drove into town the county reserves were there helping to guide traffic into a mowed field between the edge of town and the cemetery where the parade would end. We found some shade under an old oak on a grassy knoll at the curve in the road leading into town. You could sense the energy in the little town as its population more than doubled, lining its little main street.

Antique tractors (I counted about two dozen), old cars, a few floats, the local consolidated school marching band, the township fire department and the Boy Scouts all snaked their way through town around the bend by the Methodist church past us and on to the cemetery. I've never been to a smaller parade, nor to a smaller town who has a parade-so that has to say something for the folks in Tyner.
Here is the infamous Huckleberry Queen....it appears she is waving flurtatiously to the young man with the bike.

Tyner was platted in 1855 as "Tyner City" by three men, one whose name was Thomas Tyner. Tyner aided in the movement of state records from Corydon to Indianapolis. Several of the streets' names came from Cincinnati where the founders were from. The grid followed the existing railroad which angles northwest toward Chicago. So Tyner is one of only a few towns I am aware of whose grid does not lay perfectly north/south. This is why there is a bend in the street by the Methodist church on the east side of town. A buddy of mine who regularly reads this blog and now is living in Washington state, grew up in Tyner. His dad ran the post office for years and now his sister does. He told me once that Tyner lost out to Valparaiso for the location of a university (yes, Valpo University), but instead landed the first county infirmary which subsequently moved away in 1892.

One of the most infamous folks hailing from the Tyner area was the Huckleberry Queen. Quite possibly more myth than truth to her story, she was essentially the madam of the huckleberry marsh which nearly enveloped the town on three sides prior to county-wide dredging and draining. This marsh was part of the vast Kankakee Marsh and the huckleberry crop produced significant revenue for the young men who flocked to the area to pick, and they evidently spend their loot too.

We strolled downtown after the parade. Downtown consists of two commercial buildings across from each other at the main intersection, the only four-way stop in town. Both were groceries at one time I believe, although only the one operates as such today. We went inside, as recommended by my friend, and aside from the fact it was all new-it felt like a small town grocery. Good luck Tyner, may your parade continue to grow!