Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Losing Edward Pierre

As many of you know, our collection of Pierre and Wright Architectural Records is one of our most important collections at the Drawings + Documents Archive. It gets that distinction not just from the quality of materials in the collection itself, but what it represents of the architecture in Indianapolis from the early 1920s to the 1960s. From art deco to the birth of the cool; that's when the architectural fabric of Indianapolis was largely built. And Edward Pierre and George Wright were committed to doing it well.

They were also committed to civic engagement. We can thank them for having the idea of decorating the circle at Christmas, for designing gracious estates as well as small houses that were affordable to all, and for trying to make Indianapolis a greater city. Another one of their gifts to generations of Indiana residents is the elegant Indiana State Library.

AIA Indiana's website describes Edward Pierre as "a crusader for the welfare of children, decent housing for all, peace and progressive urban planning. He was honored repeatedly for his outstanding service to the architectural profession and the public." The yearly AIA Edward D. Pierre Award is meant to honor contemporary architects who display the same commitment to public service.

The recent photograph and historic architectural rendering above show an example of the architecture from Edward Pierre's later years: a graceful solution to the modest problem of needing to change into tennis attire in Tarkington Park, at 40th and Meridian. Pierre didn't cling to outdated styles during his career, but embraced the best of every era. Built in 1957, the tennis shelter's lowslung modernist design offers both privacy and openness while mirroring the architectural character of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we just heard the news that this building was torn down yesterday. 1957-2011.

Images: Tarkington Tennis Shelter, 2011, photograph courtesy of Vess von Ruhtenberg
Tarkington Tennis Shelter architectural rendering, 1957, photostat, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.


  1. How can a city not know its' history? The administration has done irreversible damage in tearing down buildings, renaming streets, etc. Let's hope that the city , or historical society, can document city owned buildings so we do not have a repeat.

  2. A true shame. As the crew stood around looking at their demolition, I witnessed a man physically abusing his dog nearby, as little kids rode their bikes past. I called 911 - no police came. Yet the building was demolished because of crime concerns, when crime happened in plain sight during the demolition!