27 August 2010

What puts the "rad" in Radnor?

There's a sleepy little town in Carroll County somewhere between Flora and Delphi whose main street turns to gravel upon exiting the town. Have you ever heard of Radnor? Population: 60...maybe? Radnor was established in 1883 along the Monon railroad. I think the intersection above is way overdue for a traffic light.
Radnor Church of God?

My wife's grandfather recently passed away which took us on a trip back to her roots where the good folks of the Randor United Methodist Church fed the family some real down-home cooking. A guy like me is always intrigued to learn how these little towns came to be and I never shy from turning off the main highway to see these little burgs.

My boy was getting restless at the dinner so after things started to break up I said, "c'mon, let's go walk around Radnor". The town has about four blocks with some homes on the periphery. The Methodist church appeared to be the only non-residential building in town, although it appeared Radnor once hosted a Church of God too (nice brickwork!). As we walked we counted 24 houses. That's about double the size of Linkville-but that's for another day. There was a small creek on the west side of town. I assumed there was a school at one time, but I didn't get a sense of where it would have been located. I noted one particularly nice old house that seemed to fit with the architectural styling of a handsome old carriage house so I assume that they were probably part of the same parcel, and maybe it was the farm on which the town was platted since it appeared older than 1883?.....and maybe it belonged to a Mr. Radnor? That's usually how it works. These are pictures of the home & barn below:

At any rate-while the circumstances were unfortunate-I appreciated having my kids experience their roots. Their great grandpa Porter helped move the Radnor Church to its current location about 60 years ago. From where...I'm not sure. It didn't appear that there was much suburban sprawl affecting land prices. Although based on a sign stapled to a fence post the internet had found its way here. Radnor Methodist was also where my wife's parents were married-50 years ago TOMORROW! Happy Anniversary!

16 August 2010

Garden-variety insanity

Of course everything in the garden ripened just days before we left on vacation. That left us scrambling to find people to take fresh produce off our hands and to come pick while we were gone all last week.

From 3 hills of watermelon plants we have/had 16 large, amazingly tasty watermelons. From the same number of cantaloupe plants we had 17 juicy melons. We picked our third wheel barrel load of cucumbers that we unloaded at church (the one in the picture was as long as my knee to the ground). We picked corn and beans like there was no tomorrow and tomatoes are coming out our ears.

The last measurement taken of the largest sunflower stands at 12' and it hasn't stopped growing. One stalk of Indian corn has 7 ears on it. There's no doubt with all the heat and rain-this was a good year for gardening!

06 August 2010

Woof & Weal in a poem on the Michigan Road

We are working tediously to create a Historic Michigan Road Byway application that will knock the knickers off of anyone who bothers to read it. One of our partners in Carroll County keeps coming up with great old sources of information on the Michigan Road. In one source a copy of a poem appeared that ran in the South Bend Tribune in 1929 when the road was turning 100 years old.

Do these guys know what they're talking about? They better since they're speaking about the Michigan Road at the Old Settlers' Meeting in Delphi on the 14th!

I admit I had to look up a couple of terms in the poem. Woof: a knitting term that refers to the area crossed by threads in the knit. Weal: the spirit or will of a people. Robin Adair? I'm still not quite sure, but evidently it was a ballad popular during the 1860s. You can even listen to it on this link: www.guitarnut.com/folktablature/the101bestsongs/robinadair.html

Despite the no longer politically correct term "redskin", this poem is pretty special:

The Michigan Road

by Esther Kathleen O'Keefe

A poem appearing in the South Bend Tribune, December 8, 1929

The Michigan Road; Oh the Michigan Road!
For more than a century romance has flowed
The length of this highway whose prairie and brake
Link sinuous river and glorified lake.

I wonder what secrets Lake Michigan's breeze,
I wonder what legends the whispering trees
Told redskins who beat down a trail unaware
That they marked the course of a great thoroughfare?

From Madison north on the Michigan Road,
The pioneer guided his oxen drawn load
Of mother and child on the perilous quest
That visioned a home in the unbroken west.

And later the towns that took root by the way,
Found old and young cheering one golden fall day
As boys who were dark-eyed and boys who were fair,
Marched south to the music of "Robin Adair".

Oh I never travel the Michigan Road,
But something of charm the past has bestowed
On each happy mile of this highway that bends
Intrigues me as laughter of long absent friends.

And so I could wish for the weal of my state
Triumphant in folk song, in history great,
No gift half as precious as this simple theme
Which colored the woof of the pioneer dream;
The neighborly spirit that crowned each abode
That Hoosiers called "home" on the Michigan Road.

03 August 2010

2 Years Down, 26 to Go

Bremen Depot Relocation & Restoration

Sunday marked the second anniversary from my professional exodus. It was an interesting time in my life because while I didn't know what was ahead I knew it had to be better than where I was. So, I quit my job of 12 years on Friday, August 1, 2008 and on Monday I woke up to a new day......the first day truly of the rest of my life. And not an idea about what I would do next.

My very first project, on Lake Max in Culver

Over those 12 years I learned much. Much about honesty and integrity, politics, relationships, work ethic, frustration and occasionally reward. When I spoke to the third graders at my son's school this spring they asked "how many buildings have you designed?" That was a good question....I can't say I had ever thought about it until that time. I said, "well, maybe 70?" "wow" was the response. Is that wow? Why don't I feel like it's wow?

Heminger House, home for women & children in crisis

There were a handful of projects that were truly rewarding over those years. If I learned anything over the 12 years I certainly learned that we Hoosiers aren't particularly interested in good architecture and often times aren't even interested in sound design. We like cheap and fast.

My in-laws agri-based headquarters

So on the occasion that I could "do it right" I became particularly fond of both the client and project. And there were times when it wasn't so much the building that made the project, but rather the client. That could be just as rewarding as good design. Regardless, the photos are of a few projects I designed from the first 12 years.

the Historic Crossroads Center-my very last project

Life has had its ups and downs in the last 2 years with my shingle hanging off the house. Mostly ups I have to keep reminding myself lately. And despite what has been rumored in river city, and I think I know the source, ain't no one paying the bills but me...just wanted to clear that up! Maybe the next post will be on some of the projects from the first two years.