27 September 2013

The Halderman-Van Buskirk Farm

Cornelius Halderman was born on May 30, 1815, in Preble County, Ohio, to John and Mary Kinsey Halderman.  At the age of 20 Cornelius began working for his brother in the printing office of the Register in Eaton, Ohio.  He worked at the Register for seven years, and then taught school for two years.  On November 12, 1843, Cornelius married Julia Reiner.  She had been born in Preble County, Ohio, on June 17, 1821, to Henry and Sarah Fouke Reiner.  The Haldermans purchased a farm near Camden, Ohio, in 1844 and remained there nine years, after which time he opened a mercantile in Green Bush, Ohio, and operated it for one year prior to settling in Roann in 1854.
Halderman constructed his first house and opened the first business establishment in Roann between 1854 and 1855; the store provided a full line of general merchandise.  He sold his business in 1857, but was still responsible for much of the town’s early growth and made subsequent additions to the town from his own acreage in 1872, 1881, and 1883.  According to oral tradition Cornelius Halderman began constructing this farmhouse in 1860, but due to a shortage of labor during the Civil War, the home was not finished until 1865. An historical account from the 1884 history of the county states that “his dwelling has been built nearly twenty years and is a substantial and comfortable residence of the style then in vogue.” The brick used in the construction of the home are thought to have come from a marshy clay pit area east of the farmstead.
Daniel Van Buskirk purchased the property on February 3, 1906.  The Van Buskirk name is inextricably linked to the development of the community of Roann.  Dow moved onto the farm in 1906; he was the son of Daniel and Martha Miller Van Buskirk.  Dow was born in Ijamsville (now Laketon), Wabash County, on July 18, 1875.  When Dow was two years old his family relocated from Laketon to Roann, where he remained his entire life. The Van Buskirk family was members of the Presbyterian Church, probably most associated with banking in Roann, and always at the center of civic improvement and duty for over 100 years in the small community of Roann and Wabash County.




25 September 2013

Roann on the Eel River

Roann, c. 1900

My first introduction with Roann came when I was still in highschool.  I took a round-about way to get to my cousins in Van Buren via Roann-which was a great little village to stumble upon.  The covered bridge welcomed me to the town nestled along the banks of the Eel River.  Another return trip occurred with my two kids, pretty young at the time, when we stumbled on their Covered Bridge Festival.  So it was a real honor when I got the opportunity to work with the good folks in town to place almost the entire community on the National Register.

Roann was originally platted in 1853 by Joseph Beckner.  The small village was a rival to a nearby community also located on the Eel River, about two miles west, named Stockdale.  Stockdale had been settled in 1839 and had a functioning mill on the river.  Beckner, himself an early settler, owned 600 acres of land between the south edge of the Eel River to about one mile south of present day Roann.  He established a tavern along an American Indian trail near the south edge of his property.  A town in the vicinity of Roann had been proposed for some time prior to the plat due to the location of a bridge over the Eel River in the same area.  When the Detroit, Eel River, and Illinois Railroad was projected to come through the area, Beckner seized the opportunity to establish the town on his land between the river and the proposed railroad.  The most valid story on the origins of the name for the community is from the name of a young woman who worked at Beckner’s tavern and Beckner’s daughter.  Both girls’ names were Ann; the worker’s last name was Roe.[1]

The famous covered bridge over the Eel River
Beckner sold the majority of his land in 1853, including the newly platted town of Roann, to Cornelius Halderman who returned to the area he first visited in 1835.  Halderman purchased 520 acres from Beckner and soon established a saw mill on the Eel River and the first store in Roann in 1854-1855; the store was located on the southeast corner of Chippewa and Allen Streets and functioned as a general store.  Halderman also constructed his residence in the town.  Levi Patterson was the first person to buy a lot and build a business in the new town; it was a dry goods store that continued to operate into the 1880s.  Patterson is shown in the 1875 atlas of Roann as a dealer in dry goods and groceries and a resident since 1861.[2]  His building was located near the location of the bank building.  Patterson retired after about 1890 and is listed as “retired” in the 1907-1908 directory at his residence on Washington Street.  A short time after Patterson established his business a blacksmith shop was established by Butler & Armentrout.  John F. Baker constructed his home on the hill on the east side of Chippewa (presumably the location of the town park) and established a cobbler’s shop in 1858.[3]  This was followed by the establishment of the post office in 1860; Baker was appointed Postmaster.[4]  It was not until the construction of the proposed railroad in 1871 that the town of Roann experienced substantial growth which developed it from a pioneer settlement to a railroad era town.

[1] York, pg. 15
[2] 1875 Atlas of Roann, pg. 20A
[3] York, pg. 17
[4] History of Wabash County, 1884. pg. 412

23 September 2013

Safe Haven-Haven Hubbard Home

Haven Hubbard Home, c. 1925

The origins of the Haven Hubbard Home date to the settlement of the Hubbard family on the Indiana Terre Coupe Prairie in 1836.  Jonathan and Hanna Hubbard moved from Oneida County, New York to Indiana, where they purchased 320 acres from Samuel and Elizabeth Garwood and created a small town that was called “Hubbard Town”.  The village was located on the Chicago Trail, also known as the Sauk Trail, an important stage coach route from Detroit to Chicago. Later the town was renamed Hamilton after an innkeeper of the community.

Haven, Jonathan's grandson, married late in life to Armina Hoffman.  Armina was a native of Germany who immigrated to the United States in 1892 and settled in Oak Park, Illinois.  In 1894 she was hired to care for Haven’s ailing mother, Marietta.  After Marietta’s death she remained employed by Haven as a housekeeper.  In 1909 Haven and Armina wed.  Haven, possibly due to the experience of his own mother’s need for care, had a desire to provide some means to minister to the needs of older people; however, his death in 1916 prevented his ability to realize that goal.  Armina followed Haven’s wish and in 1920 gave the 704 acre farm in trust to the Ebenezer Old People’s Home of the Evangelical Church for the establishment of the Haven Hubbard Memorial Old People’s Home.  Included in the trust were sufficient funds to construct the building which occurred in 1922.  Armina remained at the homestead until her death in 1946.

Hubbard Homestead
The Haven Hubbard Memorial Home (later known as Epp Hall) was constructed during 1922.  The architectural firm responsible for the design was Freyermuth and Maurer of South Bend and the general construction contract was given to Kuehn and Jordan, also of South Bend.  The cost for construction and furnishing the home was $160,000.[1]  Literature promoting the home stated that its good air, good water, shade, fruit and every convenience will make it an ideal place for tired old people and everything will be supplied that can minister to their comfort.  It further stated that the home will not be a poorhouse or infirmary, but a Christian home.[2]  This referred to the county home model that was in use throughout Indiana for those without means to support themselves.  The building did, however, follow the basic model of the county home.  Not only was it similar in its service as a respite for the aged, it also offered support to those who could not provide for themselves financially.  And like the county home model, residents of the home were responsible for tasks to support the general workings of the home including care of some aspects of the farm.  The building was also similar to the county home model with large residential wings, a central administration and superintendants core, dining hall and chapel, and rear area for employees’ quarters.  At the time of construction there were 35 guest rooms located on the first and second floors.  The home was dedicated on May 5, 1923.

After Armina’s death, the homestead house was remodeled in 1949 and an addition was created for use as a medical unit.  It also provided quarters for 14 staff.  It was dedicated as “Hubbard Hall”. In 1956 the addition was expanded to the south side of the house to provide for 28 additional resident rooms and examination and treatment spaces.  Though vacant now, the Haven Hubbard Home has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

[1] Johnson, Rev. E Garfield “The Haven Hubbard Memorial Old People’s Home”, pg. 7
[2] Haven Hubbard Home Brochure, 1934

20 September 2013

Thinking outside the brain drain

I'm the guy who overcame all of the odds.  I went away to college and came back home to the community I felt responsible to make a difference in, to improve, and to care for.  The numbers are stacked against most people who want to come back to their hometowns like I did.  Or are they?  We hear over and over again how there just aren't any jobs, so, swoosh, another brain drains from this precious Hoosier soil for greener grass.

This past summer River City participated in the one book-one town program and read Hollowing Out the Middle, a book that investigates the brain drain experienced in the Midwest.  The book suggests this hollowing out is causing the loss of our best and brightest, and those whose leadership we need to move our communities forward.

Every time I hear about the wringing of our hands over this issue, and the call to alarm and action for what can be done, I have to admit I get a little incensed.  And generally the inside-the-box answer is always more and better jobs.

I swear I don't want the next few statements to sound as if I am applying for martyrdom, but I think we need to wake up to some inconvenient truths (to steal a line from Al Gore), and rethink this issue.  For all of my friends and peers out there who managed to keep their brains here locally-thank you.  You've probably never been thanked for being the ones who went against the grain, "overcame the odds".....and in some cases put community over career.  And you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I've got friends with a wide spectrum of careers-doctors, accountants, attorneys, teachers, cops-who, whether they were born here in Republicania County or not, are Hoosiers who chose to stay and make this their home.  You likely gave up a heck of a lot of money to not put career at the top of your list and, like me, said that money wasn't everything.

I don't buy the line that the kids we spend a fortune educating and losing would stay here if the right job were here.  Sorry.  I know far too many who have moved away, if not out of state, at least to Indy.  My cousin is a marine biologist over an aquarium in Hawaii-obviously, we don't have those kinds of jobs here.  However, most jobs we do, but we're teaching these kids that $$$ is the definition of success.  By doing so, of course we are going to lose them.  When they graduate they already have a built-in sense of entitlement to the best the world can offer.  If I did the same job in Chicago, Denver, or pick any coastal town, I'd make a lot more of the green stuff.  But that's not success....at least not in my book.  I had someone tell me that "somehow I found a way to make it work".  Yeah, my wife and I committed to live simple lives.....that's how we made it work, along with a whole lot of faith.

Besides the false definition of success we are feeding these kids, we have another problem.  We're raising kids who have to be entertained-in fact, it is there right to be entertained.  They no longer are capable of producing or being a part of ways in which social entertainment once occurred.  No, they want on-demand entertainment that most small towns simply can't afford or have the infrastructure to provide.  Let me put this in simpler terms.  At one time if a few people felt it was important to have some form of performance theater.......they got together with more like-minded folks and created a community theater.  I feel that River City needs an art gallery.  I'm not going to move away because we don't, but I've been trying like heck to figure out how to make it happen.  I think it's the difference between givers and takers and what I am suggesting is that a chunk of the brain drain is full of takers.  Sorry.

Now-that's not an excuse for allowing our towns to crumble around us, both physically and culturally.  If there are things that we, as communities, can do to better ourselves to be more attractive to compete for brains-then by all means we should do it.  I remember the fight in River City just to get a bike trail constructed because of out-dated thinking.  Now, everyone loves it.  But we need to be honest with ourselves and take a critical look at what our communities look like and ask "why WOULD someone want to come back here?"  Many of our neighborhoods and downtowns look worn out.  When we see another shooting in South Bend reported on the news and they pan the neighborhood it happened in it seems I can always say, "geesh, that neighborhood looks better than most in River City".  But God forbid we do anything to change the course of slumlord control (our rental to homeowner rate is nearly 50%).  So, ask yourself, if YOU wouldn't live there why would you expect anyone else to, much less these gifted, college-educated brains we're losing?

Maybe I'm saving the best for last here, and maybe this is going to sound like sour grapes, but I don't think we really want the best and brightest anyway.  We can talk all we want about needing these young minds to become our community leaders-but certainly my experience tells me that it's best to check your brain at the door.  Critical thinking in most Indiana small towns....well heck, I'll throw in the statehouse while I'm at it, is dismal at best.  Critical thinkers are needed for solid leadership in moving our communities and our state forward.  The problem is that critical thinking leads to very non-partisan solutions.  And in River City and Republicania County.....and most of Indiana it appears, you're not going to be allowed to lead unless you've got a mouthful of right-wing nonsensical banter.  I have several good friends that I may not agree with wholly, on both sides of the aisle, but we can sit down and have dialogue on how best to solve problems because we think critically about the problems at hand.  Sorry, but I am far too familiar with way too many politicians sitting on local boards all the way up to the state level who gave up thinking 20 or more years ago.  Just tell me the way the party wants me to vote and I'll be a good boy and toe the line.

My problem is that I've never been a good boy.

There needs to be a multi-pronged approach to solving the brain drain if we really want our kids here.  Jobs is a part, but a very small part of the answer.  We need a shift in the culture or definition of what success is.  We need to teach kids what it actually means to be part of a community and not lead them to believe they need a ticket for the first flight out....but to dig in and make it what they want it to be.  And we need to value everyone-all ideas-and work toward solutions bred from critical thinking.  People gravitate toward where they feel valued and can contribute.  This occurs in social organizations, the work place, churches, and yes-our communities; those of us on the outside, if we haven't already taken our brains elsewhere, become cynical in the hope for change.  We need to end the good ol' boy system that protects and perpetuates the disease that is leading to our "hollowing".

18 September 2013

John Lloyd Wright's second round of accolades

The most popular image of John Lloyd Wright

Here are the other two John Lloyd Wright homes recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places....

Jackson House or "House of Tile", 1938

Lowell E. and Paula G. Jackson no doubt were well aware of the work Wright had created in Long Beach when they contacted him to design his own retreat.  The Jacksons purchased the lot in 1938.  Lowell Jackson was a division manager for Sears, Roebuck & Co.  Jacksons owned the home only a few years before they sold it to Earl St. Pere and his wife in 1942.  The Jackson House became Wright’s eighth home designed in Long Beach and it was just two doors east of one of his better known works “Shangri-La” completed just a year prior.  Wright’s residential work leading up to the Jackson House had shown the Prairie Style as an over-riding influence in his design.  Wright received a commission to design the Long Beach Town Hall and Coolspring School near Michigan City in 1931 and 1938 respectively.  Both of these designs reflected Wright’s desire to apply the International Style.  In the Jackson House Wright was able to embrace the International Style fully and the result was genius.
The George Jaworowski House was the last building designed by John Lloyd Wright during his career in Indiana.  It is a unique design not repeated in his other work, particularly as it relates to the shape and function of the roof which is its most identifying feature.  Created in 1945-1946, it has strong similarities to the officer housing Wright proposed for the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant.  It is unclear if any of this housing type he proposed was ever created, making the Jaworowski House the only building constructed with this unique Prairie styling.  The house is also known as “Early Birds” and fits neatly into the natural dunes landscape of Duneland Beach, Indiana.
George Jaworowski was a Chicago radio personality who had an early morning show targeting Chicago’s Polish population during World War II.  The home he and his wife had designed in Duneland Beach was nicknamed “Early Birds” because of the early nature of his radio program.  Jaworowski was probably referred to John Lloyd Wright by others in the Long Beach and Duneland Beach community.  Wright had created over a dozen residential designs in the lakeside communities and Long Beach’s Town Hall and School.  Several of his early designs had Prairie styling as the guiding principal influence, but Wright had begun to develop his work in the International Style since he traveled to Europe in 1930.  Commissions for design dried up at the opening of World War II and with the exception of a parking addition, Wright had not completed any private work during the 1940s.
"Early Bird", 1945-46
Wright had, however, worked for the Federal government in the design of buildings and officer housing at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant south of LaPorte, Indiana.  One, and possibly two, buildings that were constructed can be attributed to Wright.  Industrial in nature, Wright provided hipped roofs and wide overhanging eaves in a nod to the Prairie Style, but also included large expanses of glass asymmetrically arranged that lent itself more to the International Style.  Most related to his design of the Jaworowski House were Wright’s proposed designs for officer housing at the ordnance plant.  Wright experimented in the designs to create three, four, and five bedroom residences for officers’ living quarters at the plant.  The designs featured tall hipped roofs with wide overhanging eaves, tall chimneys, and corners of buildings cut away with large expanses of glass or enclosed porches.  Of all Wright’s work, only the Jaworowski House is similarly designed to these proposed buildings, and appears to be the only extant design because the officer housing, if built, no longer exists.

16 September 2013

John Lloyd Wright's overdue accolades

I've written about John Lloyd Wright, the son of the other famous Lloyd Wright, Frank, on this blog before.  JLW was a skilled architect in his own right and started down his road to fame right here in Indiana.  LaPorte County to be more specific.  In fact, other than the Arcades Hotel he designed (and was razed) at the Indiana Dunes State Park in Porter County, all of his work during his independent early years from 1923-1946 was done in LaPorte County, and mostly in Long Beach.  Recently JLW received accollades previously reserved only for his father when four of his designs were first listed in the National Register of Historic Places this year.  So here are the earliest two houses......

Hoover-Timme House, 1929
Wright was commissioned to design a home by Adelaide H. Hoover after she purchased the lot in 1929. Adelaide Hoover was a widow and private school teacher who lived in Chicago.  Mrs. Hoover was born in 1893 in Illinois.  She had been married and widowed by the 1920 census.  She lived in Hammond, Indiana during the 1920s and was a school teacher at Wentworth High School.  Mrs. Hoover owned the house only a few years before it was sold to Raynor and Ruth Timme in 1934.  Raynor was born in Nebraska in 1900; his parents were natives of Germany.  They moved to Chicago where Raynor attended school and registered for the draft in World War 1.  He was involved in the insurance and investment business when he married Ruth Bedford in 1933.  They had two adopted children and appeared to make the Long Beach home their permanent home by 1935.

The Hoover-Timme House is one of the finest residential examples of the Prairie Style created by John Lloyd Wright during his career in Long Beach, Indiana.  The son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright came to design prominence in his own right as he developed his design philosophy in the exclusive lake community of Northwest Indiana.  Created in 1929, the house exhibits the architect’s skill and creativity in creating spaces and fitting the building into the landscape.

Burnham "Pagoda" House, 1934
The John and Isabel Burnham House was designed by John Lloyd Wright in a blended interpretation of the Prairie Style and the International Style.  The house was constructed in 1934 in the Lake Michigan resort community of Long Beach, Indiana for the owners of a local manufacturing company.  The house is also referred to as the “Pagoda House”.  The house resembles a Japanese pagoda because its five floor levels are delineated by roofs and because of its position on the Lake Michigan shore.  The original owners of the Burnham home were John and Isabel Burnham.  They were close friends of John and Hazel Wright and frequently attended parties in each others’ homes.  John Burnham was the son of Frederic H. and Alice Burnham.  Frederic established the Frederic H. Burnham Company, Inc. at 1602 Tennessee Street in Michigan City in 1902.  The company is still in operation.  Burnham was attracted to the area because of the available labor of experienced glove makers.  The company became a large manufacturer of gloves and mittens throughout the United States.  In 1918 the company purchased Tecumseh Facing Mills.  John Burnham became president of the company after his father passed away in about 1928.  His mother, Alice, remained vice president of the company.  By 1938 the company had grown to include three buildings that covered over 40,000 square feet.  During World War II the company opened a plant in Missouri and reached its peak employment of 250 employees.

13 September 2013

He's on his soapbox again: Syria and Obamacare

I've had so many blogposts with political bents spinning in my head, but then I get distracted, cynical, or just plain apathetic that the fervor for what I wanted to write goes from a boil to a slow simmer.

But not this time.  Pick your topic.  Chemical weapons in Syria, corporations ending healthcare for their employees, the general decline of education in Indiana, or how amazing my wife is.......she told me to write that.

Let's start with chemical weapons.  I don't care what your position is really, but I think we could all agree that they shouldn't be used, much less on children.  So-if we start there, what can we do?  I just find it so odd that the folks decrying this the loudest are the same ones who went into the last half dozen sovereign nations with guns a'blazin.  But this is different.....it's a Democrat in the White House and now all of a sudden we're about keeping our nose in our own business?  I don't know who the bad guys are, maybe they all are, but it seems to reason that at the very least we could target or control chemical weapon stockpiles.

I mean, if we feel that we shouldn't get involved unless it spills over into another country, then I guess the logic would hold up that so long as Hitler had stayed in Germany and ONLY exterminated German Jews with gas, well.......that's ok.  And maybe it's too much of a leap, but why is it my pro-life colleagues can stand back and watch children go through writhing convulsions to their death and that's ok?

I find it sad and disturbing that Britain's debate on supporting our action in Syria rested on "fool me once USA, shame on you.....fool me twice, shame on me."  Of course they were referring to the non-existent chemical weapons in Iraq under GW's watch.  Way for us to be the leader of the free world.  If Obama hasn't made his case, shame on him.  If we have the ability to prevent another mass killing of children and we don't, shame on us.  I might mention that a former US soldier-turned congressman from Illinois essentially said the same thing. And guess what.....he's a Republican.

I'll skip standing on my soapbox concerning education for now, but this blog has a date with Mr. Bennet and a privatized Purdue coming soon.  As for now.....well.....let's talk Obamacare.

The sky is falling.  Seriously.  Chicken little posted it on facebook just today.
Actually I took great comfort in the fact that the Kroger Corporation is ending some of its health care benefits and pointing people to state health exchanges.  Do you not understand how this translates as good news for us folks who buy health insurance?

The more people who are independently seeking out and purchasing health insurance for their families, the more health insurance companies, and possibly providers, will have to COMPETE for individual customers.  Competition generally means LOWER COSTS.....or have my fellow Republicans forgotten this?  This is the beauty and one saving grace of Obamacare-that we (independent business owners and self-insurers) would actually be able to get into exchanges and reap some of the benefits that group policies allow for employer-funded coverage.  Lower costs.  More competition.  I still believe the BEST way to lower health care costs and relieve huge financial burdens from business is to fully do away with employer-funded health insurance coverage.  It works for home and auto insurance, it would work with health insurance.  My guess is that their lobby is too large, and at least in Indiana......we're too politically charged to set up the exchange, protecting corporations over people.

Coming soon.....Tony didn't ben'it, he broke it.

11 September 2013

Calling all descendants of Patriot Nathaniel Cole

My wife capturing the moment with me and my kids
This will be a first.  I don't think I've ever used this blog as a call to action, but here we go.  I have noticed on many occassions that the blog post about my ancester Patriot Nathaniel Cole often gets a number of hits.  I assume it's not folks looking for "patriot" or "tea party" in the title, because occassionally I am contacted by fellow descendants.

This past summer we took a slight detour on our way back home from vacationing on the East Coast.  As if all the cemeteries we visited weren't enough, I had to visit my ancestor's gravesite near Binghamton, New York.  The Colesville Cemetery to be more specific, near the Nathaniel Cole County Park, both named for my ancestor.....a Revolutionary War patriot known for his courage and tenacity under fire.  Cole was born in Connecticut and after the Revolution, moved with his family and a small band of neighbors to Broome County, New York and established Cole's Hill, later Colesville, along with a tavern and inn on the market road.

I wasn't sure what to expect at the cemetery, but it wasn't that the namesake of the park and village buried there, in the middle of it all, would have a broken and nearly illegible gravestone.  Fortunately there was some contact information on a brochure at the cemetery-which was well-kept-no complaints there.  When I returned home I sent an email asking about how I could participate in repairing his stone.  I never heard anything until about a week ago when I was contacted by a headstone preservation specialist.  I didn't know such a thing existed.  I asked "can you make a living at it?"  He assured me he could, and does.....a young fellow with a passion for preservation.  Reminded me of me, and not just because we shared the same uncommon first name.

This might have been my wife making fun of me
So, he shot me a price.  And I understood then how he could make a living at this.  It was $200.  Not a steep amount, but I'm going to offer YOU, oh distant cousins of mine, a chance to participate in this worthy effort and return a little respect to the gravesite of our patriot-ancestor.  If you contact me with an email address I will let you know how you can participate.  I am working through a local preservation group for the tax benefit and some accountability for the contractor.

09 September 2013

"the door" to LaPorte

LaPorte, French for “the door”, was established at the edge of the prairie in northern Indiana.  The village was first platted in 1833 by five men who purchased 400 acres at the land sales office in Logansport.  In that same year a government land office was established in LaPorte and with its establishment a number of pioneers and land speculators began to move through the community.  LaPorte was chosen as the county seat of LaPorte County and the town was incorporated in 1835.  City government was adopted for LaPorte in 1852 when the population reached 5,000; ten years later the population reached 8,000.  The city’s streets were described as “wide and well shaded” with “long rows of dark green maples” and “groves and lakes and charming drives”.

By 1916 LaPorte was described as the “City of Maples” with a population of 15,000.  Interurban lines had been developed by this time and connected “suburban retreats” with the downtown.  The Lincoln Highway had been routed through the city in 1913 bringing motorists and a national channel for distributing the products manufactured by LaPorte’s leading industries.  The growth and prosperity realized in the city’s manufacturing sector during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is witnessed by the grand and imposing homes constructed by their founders in the Indiana and Michigan Avenues Historic District.  A substantial addition was created on the south side of the original plat of the city by Capt. A. P. Andrew Jr. where much of the housing in the northern part of the Indiana and Michigan Avenue neighborhoods was created.  As additional plats followed, the boundaries of the city continued to push south. The size and styles of housing also changed from early mid nineteenth century homes, to more substantial brick and frame Queen Anne homes, to early 20th century styles as the city expanded.  The houses at the far south end of the district are more modest and begin to fall into mid 20th century styles.

One area of particular interest was a small community unto itself called “Hail Columbia” that was established in about 1850.  A few homes from that period still exist in the area and include the Pulaski King House and the Dr. Rose House.  Hail Columbia loosely included the area between the west side of Michigan Avenue and the east side of Indiana Avenue, along Osborn Street, also known as “King’s Alley” due to its relationship with Pulaski King’s house.  The area was eventually surrounded by the city by 1860, and then finally incorporated by LaPorte.

The Indiana and Michigan Avenues Historic District is located along Indiana and Michigan Avenues on the south side of the city.  The district encompasses several blocks between Maple and Kingsbury Avenue.  Within the district are some of the city’s finest homes representative of styles from the second half of the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century. 

06 September 2013

The Afters - Light Up The Sky - Official Video

Couldn't help but think of this video while watching fireworks at the big Blue this past Sunday.....and the times in my life when God lit up the sky.

04 September 2013

A long summer of good byes.

Before summer had a chance to begin, it seemed I couldn't get out of the "good bye" mode I had been in after losing both my step-grandparents through the winter and spring.  After a long illness, we said good bye to the first cousin on my dad's side to pass from this life to the next.  It's those times when you start to feel that time is passing too fast and that the people that you have carried along with you your whole life......aren't going to be there forever.  Here are my two siblings and a few of my first cousins gathered at my cousin Jim's memorial service.  Bonus points if you can identify who my sister and brother are above.  If there was any good to come from it, I had the chance to see my dear cousin who grew up in North Carolina, for the first time since my grandfather's funeral in 1995.

In late July the last of my grandmother's siblings passed away.  He was 82.  He'd been pastor of the same church in Hammond for as long as I had been alive and had just retired the year before.  That seems crazy.  My only regret here is that in all my working trips to Hammond I never stopped by to see him.  It had probably been 20 years.  And there was his name on the church's sign by the road:  Pastor.  Only a few blocks from the main route I took in and out of the city.  We called him Bugsy.  I always assumed it had something to do with the famous outlaw.  So, we asked several of the family why "Uncle Bugs"?  His wife said that my grandmother (centered above) said that he had bug eyes and she called him that since they were little.  Uncle Bugs is on the left above.  Seems to me, the outlaw story is more complimentary.  My dad looks sooooo much like Uncle Bugs that some distant family, and particularly the parishioners, looked as though they had seen a ghost as my dad made his way to the front of the church.  And Bugs' daughter even gasped, and said, oh does he look like dad.
As I sat in the little old suburban church on Hammond's south side, in a diverse congregation Martin Luther King would be proud of, I got a bit overwhelmed at how they loved this guy.  Never preached to throngs, never broadcast across the airways.....just kept with the same folks for generations.  Because he loved people.  And they loved him back.  Well done, good and faithful servant.

About August I got word that my cousin, much more like a little brother to me, was investigating a job in Hawaii....as if Florida wasn't far enough away.  The kid grew up surrounded by cornfields and hay, went to Ball State for marine biology, became a rock star in the aquarium world, and wrote his ticket to paradise.  Dang if I won't miss him......that's a whole lot of wet stuff between us man!  So, we cousins gathered again in August and gave him a proper send off.  Another good bye.  Don't we look like a motley bunch.  He's in the shades.

It was a long summer of good byes.  Take a good look around, slow down.....before you know it everything changes.

02 September 2013

From Attica to Monticello by mail & canvas

Attica Post Office
If you think that I am building to some kind of grand thought behind the posts on New Deal-era post offices and murals....I hate to disappoint you.  The regionalism painting that was being done in the Midwest during the 1920s-1930s is probably my favorite style.  Throw it in a historic building and you've captured my attention.
And so it happens when my New Deal radar goes off passing a post office that screams "hey, mural inside!"  No, seriously, I hear that when I drive by.  And I quickly pull over, camera in hand, and mosey up the steps into a lobby where the locals are pulling the mail out of there p.o. boxes as if it were still 1932.  Except that some guy, clearly from out of town (I give off that vibe), snaps a few shots and scurries back out the door.....with eyes following me all the way back to my car.
So it should be no surprise that on my way back from Covington a few weeks ago, a detour through Attica (to stop at Wolf's Chocolates), put me on the street past their post office and ding, ding, ding....the radar went off.

Attica's Trek of the Covered Wagon
Attica's post office is pretty unassuming, standard, government-issue 1930s, but with an exceptionally detailed stone doorway.  A recollection of historic post office murals made me think....hmmm....I think Attica has one.  So, up the steps and into the lobby, snap, snap.....and on my way.  Now-nothing against Attica here, but they have the smallest commissioned mural I've seen.  It is entitled Trek of the Covered Wagon by Reva Jackman, a woman artist.

Monticello Post Office
And then just last week I was on my way back from Delphi via Monticello, which is slightly out of the way but necessary for a stop at the Whyte Horse Winery.  Now-I've been in Monticello several times and had always wanted to stop by their post office, so this trip I made time.  Monticello's post office is again, straight from the period, but somehow they managed to get a building entirely cut from limestone.  And a further unusual detail is the fluted return walls of the doorway and windows.  It has a hint of both classicism and modern architecture.  Nicely done USPS.  The mural in the Monticello Post Office is a classic example of Midwest Regionalism capturing the heartbeat of farm life.  The painting is entitled Hay Making and it was done by Marguerite Zorach in 1942.

Monticello's Hay Making
It may be all-together appropriate that I touch on a couple of New Deal era "get America back to work" projects on this Labor Day.  For all the crap FDR gets, we've inherited some pretty amazing things from the labor of the 1930s.  Stay tuned....I'm sure there will be more.