Tuesday, January 31, 2012

University Libraries’ Drawings and Documents Archive Exhibit Opens in Indianapolis for Super Bowl Weekend

Edward Pierre: Civic Pride Begins in Your Backyard
Exhibit opening at Blackline Studio for Architecture, February 3, 2012, 6-9pm.
1043 Virginia Avenue, Studio 211, Indianapolis, Indiana

To celebrate the hard work and civic pride that has been taking place around Indianapolis in preparation for this weekend's Super Bowl, Ball State University Libraries’ Drawings and Documents Archive and Blackline Architecture Studios have partnered to present the exhibit Edward Pierre: Civic Pride Begins in Your Backyard, opening at the Blackline Studio in Fountain Square’s Murphy Building, on Friday, February 3, 2012, from 6-9 p.m.

Curated by Carol Street, archivist for architectural records, and Vessel von Ruhtenberg, architectural historian, the exhibit highlights Pierre’s Modernist work throughout Indianapolis with large photographs and renderings from the Drawings and Documents Archive’s collection. Blackline Studios, where the exhibit will be held, is comprised of architects Craig Von Deylen, Scott Perkins, and Craig McCormick, all graduates from Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning.

Architect Edward Dienhart Pierre, FAIA, could be called the man who built Indianapolis due to his lifelong career shaping Indiana’s built environment and overwhelming dedication to make the city shine as brightly as possible. It is fitting to honor this extraordinary architect at a time when the city is shining brighter than it has in years, thanks to the Super Bowl coming to town. Much in the vein of today’s extraordinary Cultural Trail and the projects to beautify the city’s near east side, Pierre felt good design should engage the public and he pursued this through a wide array of buildings and civic events that we continue to enjoy today.

If you’ve ever seen Monument Circle lit up at Christmas, shopped in the Sears and Roebuck building on Mass. Avenue, eaten at Yats on College, visited the State Library, experienced a game at Bush Stadium, or driven around Meridian Kessler, Meridian Hills, or Butler Tarkington, you’ve experienced the benefits of having an architect like Edward Pierre in Indianapolis. He also designed, along with architect George Caleb Wright from 1925-1944, and in his own practice from 1945-1960s, the Old Trails Building, Oxford Gables Apartments, numerous schools (including IPS School 78, which is currently being repurposed into a IPD building), fire stations, and many jewel-like modest houses as well as expansive mansions throughout the city.

Of course, not all Pierre buildings are still standing or in use as originally intended. Bush Stadium is undergoing renovation and will be turned into condominiums, the Art Moderne-style Fire Station No. 18 on Washington Street stands vacant, and we just lost the small, but well-designed Tarkington Park Tennis Shelter to the wrecking ball in October. The exhibit will highlight numerous Pierre designs, buildings both lost and loved, and invites visitors to consider a little civic pride for Indiana’s architecture, as well as a thank you for all the hard work everyone has accomplished lately to make the city shine. The exhibit will run through March 1, 2012.

Blackline Studio is a full service architecture and interior design studio for commercial and residential architecture. Recent projects include the Speak Easy incubator space, City Gallery at the Harrison Center for the Arts, and The Hinge in Fountain Square which opens in late 2012.

Ball State University Libraries’ Drawings and Documents Archive preserves the history of Indiana’s built environment and contains over 100,000 original architectural drawings, landscape plans, blueprints, photographs, models, and building remnants. Located in Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning, the archive is open to all researchers. You can find thousands of drawings from the Pierre & Wright Architectural Records online in Ball State University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository.
Images: Civic Pride Begins in Your Backyard original drawing, 1950s [3-233]
"Planning the Metropolis of Tomorrow", Indianapolis Star Magazine, February 17, 1957 [3-176.2]
Tarkington Park Tennis Shelter architectural rendering, photostat, 1957, [3-128] 

Pierre & Wright Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wilkinson House interiors

Muncie's Wilkinson House, featured in Indiana Landmarks' book 99 Historic Homes of Indiana, is currently experiencing foreclosure and an upcoming sheriff's sale, but we're looking back at grander times in the house's history. These photographs were taken in 1936 for the architect Leslie Ayres shortly after the house was built and decorated. As you can see, little expense was spared in creating a fashionable home for its inhabitants, Theodore and Edna Wilkinson and their daughter, Helen.

From the custom three-panel circular mirror built-in vanity to the Art Deco piano, this house is a marvelous example of blending high style design and modern materials in the 1930s. The house boasts a meandering key pattern on the switchback staircase and throughout, telephone nook, geometric chrome chandelier, custom bas-relief plasterwork, and custom woodwork in the study, among other interesting features.

Images: Wilkinson house photographs, 1936. (G-93.004) General Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wilkinson House, Muncie, Indiana

Every town has a house that really captivates the imagination. Muncie has numerous houses that fit this category--the Ball family mansions at Minnetrista and the gas-boom Queen Anne-style Victorians downtown. Closer to campus, we have the beautiful houses in the Westwood district. For me, the house that stands apart from them all is the Wilkinson House at 3100 W. University Avenue.

Designed in 1933-34 by Leslie F. Ayres, who regular readers will recognize as a very skilled and prominent architect from Indianapolis, the house is a remarkable example of exciting, art moderne-style architecture in a city known for traditional building styles. It was built for Theodore and Edna Wilkinson, who moved from Chicago to Muncie due to Theodore's job as an investment advisor to the Ball family.

While it has housed decades of family life, bridge games, parties, and weddings on the lawn, the property is currently in foreclosure and is expected to go to Sheriff's sale February 8th. Its unfortunate circumstances are indicative of the greater housing problems facing Muncie since the city lost its manufacturing base. According to the 2010 Census, there are 4600 other vacant housing units available in the city.

The Archive is fortunate to have a set of architectural plans as well as these extraordinary black and white photographs of the house in happier times, soon after the house and interior decorations were completed in 1936. The photographs illustrate the grandeur of the home and the extraordinary attention to detail for every feature of the house, from the front porch railing to the powder room vanity. Tomorrow we'll post the interior photographs. Stay tuned for the unbelievable piano!

Images: Wilkinson house photographs, 1936. (G-93.004) General Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Few Recent Buildings by Johnson & Miller Architects

This is a question for our preservation friends in the Terre Haute, Indiana, area: which of these Johnson & Miller designed schools are still standing?

The advertisement likely dates from 1915-1918 when MacMillan "Mac" Houston Johnson, Jr. and Warren D. Miller were well-established with their firm in Terre Haute. Johnson, who had studied at DePauw University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, originally opened his practice in Brazil, Indiana, in 1910. Miller, after his graduation from the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania, joined him the following year and the firm changed its name to Johnson & Miller. The partners established a second office in Terre Haute's Ball Building on Ohio Street a year later and maintained both offices until 1915. At that time they closed the Brazil branch and moved the Terre Haute branch to 105 S. Seventh Street.

Warren's brother, Ewing H. Miller, also studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the firm in 1919 after completing military service. The firm was then known as Johnson, Miller and Miller.

Numerous iterations of the firm's principals were to follow in quick succession due to the untimely deaths of Johnson and Ewing Miller a few months apart in 1923 and the additions of other architects. It became Johnson, Miller, Miller & Yeager (1924-29), Miller & Yeager (1930-45), Miller, Yeager & Vrydaugh (1946), Miller & Vrydaugh (1947-54), and then Miller, Vrydaugh & Miller when Ewing H. Miller's son, Ewing H. Miller II joined the firm. When Vrydaugh left the firm, it became Miller, Miller & Associates (1962-65) until Warren Miller's retirement which resulted in the name Ewing Miller Associates (1966-70). Ewing Miller later started Archonics Corporation, which had offices in Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis.

Over the years, Johnson & Miller and its successor firms were responsible for designing numerous schools, university buildings, government offices, and businesses in Terre Haute and the surrounding area. Many of the drawings for these projects can be found in the Drawings + Documents Archive's Johnson & Miller Architectural Records Collection.

*An addendum to the post: We've heard that only one of the eight schools featured in this advertisement still stands today, the Eliza B. Warren School.

Image: Johnson & Miller advertisement, ca. 1918 (24-113). Johnson & Miller Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.