Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oberly House by A. M. Strauss in Fort Wayne, Ind.

A recent request brought out the drawings for the Oberly House located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Designed by architect A. M. Strauss (1895-1958) in 1940-41, the house is a fascinating example of stylish art deco designs (note the stair railing in the blueprint) and traditional elements, such as the paneled library and Tudor revival exterior.

Images: C. C. Oberly House stair and library details, 1940 (32-849) Strauss Architectural Records Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

William Conner Farm Architectural Drawings now online

The Drawings + Documents Archive is pleased to announce the latest digitized collection that is available online for research in Ball State University Libraries' Digital Media Repository, the collection of William Conner Farm Architectural Drawings. The collection consists of 36 sheets by Robert Frost Daggett, including topographical maps, elevation drawings and plans, relating to the restoration of the Conner house and construction of new buildings on the property that is now known as Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

In 1934, when pharmaceutical executive Eli Lilly purchased the early 1800s William Conner house and farm in Fishers, Indiana, the house required immediate preservation work to stabilize it structurally and preserve its rich historical details. Lilly, a wealthy and devoted advocate for historical preservation, hired Robert Frost Daggett, a prominent local architect who had designed Lilly’s home just a few years earlier, to oversee the structural work on the farm house.

In addition to restoring the Conner house, Daggett was also commissioned to build other homes and outbuildings on the property during the time Lilly operated the property as a working farm. The drawings in this collection reflect Daggett’s projects on the property, including the Conner house, a garage, well house, and a brick cottage built for the farm's foreman, Tillman Bubenzer.

Image: Restoration of the Conner House: stair details, 1934. William Conner Farm Architectural Drawings, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archive and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Indiana State Library receives NEH grant to digitize historic Indiana newspapers

This will be a boon to architecture historians who currently have to squint through viewing reels of microfilms, or worse, turn the crumbling pages of 100 year-old newspapers, to find information on the structures reported on in the papers. Representatives from Ball State University Libraries will be on the project's advisory group.

From the Indiana State Library's press release:

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $293,157 grant to the Indiana State Library to digitize Indiana’s historically significant newspapers. Indiana joins 25 states participating in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the NEH, the Library of Congress and participating states to provide enhanced access to American newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. Newspapers digitized as part of this two-year project will be included in the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America Database (

“This grant is crucial to the State’s efforts to provide optimal public access to Indiana’s historical documents and cultural heritage,” said Jim Corridan, State Archivist and Associate Director of the Indiana State Library. “The State Library houses millions of copies of historic Hoosier newspapers and this initiative will enable Hoosiers instant access to these collections via the internet.”

The Indiana State Library will be assisted on the project by an advisory group of representatives from the Indiana Commission on Public Library, the Indiana Historical Bureau, Ball State University, the Hoosier Press Foundation, the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana University School of Journalism and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. The advisory group will develop criteria for inclusion of historic papers and ultimately select the newspapers to be digitized.

In addition to the Indiana papers presence in the Chronicling America Database, the digitized papers will also be available through Indiana Memory ( – a collaborative effort to provide access to the wealth of primary sources in Indiana libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions. Indiana Memory's mission is to create and maintain a digital library that enables free public access to Indiana's unique cultural and historical heritage. Through information and pictures found in digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, maps, and other digital materials available on the Indiana Memory website, the program seeks to enhance education and scholarship of Indiana's past. As a portal to the collections, Indiana Memory assists individuals to locate materials relevant to their interests and to better appreciate the connections between those materials.