Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paramount Theater, Anderson, Indiana

We often find unintentional markings on our older drawings–an accidental splash of ink, coffee rings, even an inky fingerprint–but today we found the uncommon, but not the first, shoe-print. The above drawing is a detail of the majestic 1928 Paramount Theater in Anderson, Indiana, from the A.M. Strauss Architectural Records Collection.

The heel marks are clearly visible–note the nails that once held together men’s shoes. The letters “H A S S . . . S H O E” are also visible on the print to the left. These unintentional details recall the romance of the early 20th century, when we can imagine our architects bent over their worktable, bow-tied and waist-coated, with pen and ink in hand.

From the number of small detail drawings such as this one, Alvin Strauss clearly labored over the details of the Mission/ Spanish revival-style Paramount Theater, which he referred to at that time as simply the "Anderson Theater". The National Register of Historic Places lists the architect for the theater as John Eberson and A.M. Strauss.

Eberson was a nationally-known architect for his theater designs and often contracted with local architects. A little research into the lettering of the shoe print uncovered the Hass Shoe Company of Riverside, New Jersey, that was in operation during the 1920s. Eberson operated his practice out of nearby New York, so it is conceivable that it was Eberson who stepped on the drawing when he visited Strauss' office in Fort Wayne.

Like many downtown theaters, the Paramount experienced decline and eventually closed its doors. Preservation-minded citizens facilitated an extraordinary effort to restore the building's opulence in the 1990s and it operates as a concert venue today.
Image: Paramount Theater detail, 1928, (32-501), A. M. Strauss Architectural Records Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dan Kiley Fort Wayne Drawings Donated to the Archive

The Archive recently received a gracious donation from landscape architecture professor Malcolm Cairns of Modernist landscape architect Dan Kiley’s set of drawings for Concordia Senior College, now known as Concordia Theological Seminary, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kiley designed the landscape in 1955, collaborating with architect Eero Saarinen who designed the buildings for the site. Illustrative of their longstanding history of partnership and design synthesis, these drawings depict their holistic Modernist aesthetic for the built environment.

If you appreciate modern design, you've no doubt heard about the upcoming opening of the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana. Another sublime and synchronous masterpiece of Saarinen architecture and Kiley landscape, although this time with Alexander Girard designs for the home's interior, the Miller House is now under the auspices of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and will be open for tours this spring.

We’re thrilled to have copies of Kiley's important Concordia Theological Seminary designs in our collection. They are available for research by students, faculty, and outside researchers.

Image: Dan Kiley Concordia Senior College drawings, 1955, (G 2011.014) Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fort Wayne's Brookview-Irvington Park Historic District Placed on National Register

Fort Wayne, April 20, 2011: The Brookview-Irvington Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior on March 21, 2011.

The district is composed of three related suburban neighborhoods that reflect principles of design important in the history of community planning and development: Oak Knoll designed in 1906, Irvington Park designed in 1910, and Brookview designed in 1917. Together these areas combined the naturalistic landscape design with curvilinear circulation, park areas, and convenient access to roads, trolleys, and interurban railroads to create desirable neighborhoods.

The naturalistic development that landscape architect Walter Hoxie Hillary laid out for Irvington Park utilized the existing topography of the wooded site. In his development of Brookview for the Wildwood Builders, noted landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff further expanded and refined this idea by creating meandering roads that followed the natural contours and developing home sites focused on the scenic beauty of Spy Run Creek. The slightly earlier Oak Knoll development reflects a form of railroad era suburb that is rare in Fort Wayne. Women architects Joel Roberts Ninde and Grace E. Crosby designed several houses in the district, and the district has an outstanding collection of homes with a variety of architectural styles.

The City of Fort Wayne obtained Federal grant funding administered through Indiana's Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology to assist with the effort to prepare the application to the National Register of Historic Places. The City used the grant to contract with a listed qualified professional, ARCH, Inc. to research the district and prepare the nomination. The completed application was reviewed by the Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission before it was forwarded to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board and finally to the National Park Service.

The National Register of Historic Places is the Federal government’s official list of prehistoric and historic properties worthy of preservation. In Indiana, this program is administered by the Department of Natural Resources-Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, with assistance from the City of Fort Wayne as a Certified Local Government. Listing in the National Register provides recognition and assists in preserving our nation’s heritage. It does not prevent a private owner from altering, demolishing, or disposing of the property as s/he wishes.

Image: Residence for the News Sentinel, sheet 3, Fort Wayne, Ind., 1935. A. M. Strauss Architectural Records Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Federal Park, Muncie, 1909

This was the view of Federal Park in Muncie in 1909. The old Muncie post office is the building flying the flag, next to the park. The building still stands at 401 S. High Street, although it has been added onto in order to turn it into part of the Horizon Convention Center. In the distance is Muncie High School.

Notice the bicycles strewn in front of the entrance to the post office, and the playground area, complete with a slide to the right. The abundance of park benches indicate this park was likely a popular destination for downtown families.

Monday, April 4, 2011

From Ink to CAD

Witold Rybczynski, architecture critic and professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, recently penned an interesting commentary on the effects of the computer in the field of architecture. As an architect who straddles the divide between pencils and computer-aided design (CAD), Rybcynski has a unique perspective of how the advance of CAD has changed the profession and those in it.

He describes the Renaissance method of architectural design, which “not only lacked Xeroxes and blueprint machines; it even lacked pencils. All drawings, including rough sketches, were done in ink.” Innovations such as the T-square, the pencil, and the eraser made the process quicker and easier, but none have changed the process of design so much as the computer. Ryncynski contends that time and painstaking, deliberate effort are integral to the design process - and that the computer has eliminated the need for both.

Students and visitors to the Drawings and Documents Archive are always impressed with the detail and precision of our hand-drawn plans and blueprints. The faculty wax nostalgic over the fine lettering and reminisce about the long hours at the drafting table during their college years.

We don't just have drawings in our collections, either. From our Kibele & Garrard Architectural Records Collection, we have an extraordinary array of ink wells, pens, T-squares, blotters, compasses, powders and other tools of early 20th century architects and draftsmen.