Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Indiana Landmarks 2012 list of 10 Most Endangered: Taggart Memorial

Indiana Landmarks is our state's non-profit organization dedicated to preserving historically significant sites and structures. Each year, the organization publishes its list of Indiana’s landmarks that are considered the 10 Most Endangered. As you can imagine, a property doesn't make it to the list until it faces imminent threat from abandonment, neglect, and/or demolition.

The Drawings + Documents Archive has often been able to assist Indiana Landmarks with research regarding historical properties and, while we don't have materials on all of this year's ten engangered properties, we do have information on quite a few of them. We'll spend the next few posts exploring the plans, photographs, and documents in our collection related to some of the most endangered properties in the state.

First up is the Taggart Memorial in Indianapolis. Thomas Taggart (1856-1929) was the 18th mayor of Indianapolis (1895-1901), a Senator (1916), and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. One of his greatest achievements in political office was founding the expansive parks system in the growing metropolis of Indianapolis. The city of Indianapolis dedicated the Taggart Memorial in Riverside Park in 1931, two years after his death.

The Archives has hundreds of drawings and ledgers from the Indianapolis Parks Department Landscape Architectural Records dating from 1898 that document the early history of the park system in Indianapolis that Taggart created. Among the numerous projects are drawings for Riverside Park and the Taggart Memorial. The drawings depict the layout of the memorial as well as the planting plan for the grounds surrounding it.

Prominent landscape architect Lawrence V. Sheridan (1887-1972), who had recently worked with George Kessler on Indianapolis' famed boulevard system, designed the landscape. Below, you'll see the progression of his design process in early 1931. The first blueprint, which is hand-colored and dated February 5, 1931, shows the preliminary plans for the overall design and the second blueprint, dated February 23, 1931, depicts the detailed planting schedule for the grounds surrounding the monument.  The final plan, dated March 17, 1931, shows the construction and grading plan for the memorial.

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