Friday, March 30, 2012

Muncie Fieldhouse: "A Worthy Civic Investment"

Muncie's Fieldhouse was built in 1928, the same year as Butler University's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Muncie-based architects Charles Henry Houck and Herbert F.Smenner, of the firm Houck & Smenner, designed the building to seat 7,500 people who came to see the Muncie Central Bearcats dominate Indiana high school basketball.

The Bearcats would go on to win many state championships, but not in 1954 when they played against the small town Milan Indians at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the final game and lost 32-30. Every seat at Hinkle was sold out for the legendary game which would become the story for the movie Hoosiers. According to Bobby Plump, the Milan player who took the fateful, winning shot, "the film captured what it was like growing up in a small town in Indiana and how important basketball was." 

Documents such as this 1933 Financial Report of the Field House also illustrate the importance communities placed on their field houses and facilities for sports and sports education. "The Field House and Ball Recreation Field is a worthy civic project in the future development of Muncie. The citizens of Muncie will find an increasing use for this building and the surrounding grounds."

One of those additional uses involved hosting Eleanor Roosevelt's first speech in Muncie on October 27, 1939. She addressed the challenges facing youth during the Depression. A few years later, in 1942, Abbott and Costello rallied the community in the Fieldhouse to support the war bond effort.

Images: Financial Report of the Field House, 1933. (DOC 04.014) Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anderson High School's Wigwam Gymnasium

The New York Times' Sunday Sports section had an interesting article about high school basketball in Indiana. The story focused on the fate of Anderson High School Wigwam gymnasium, which is located in nearby Anderson, Indiana, and has recently been vacated due to the reduced student enrollment and dwindling population in the once-booming factory town. Many residents are fighting to save the gymnasium, but one of its greatest features--its massive size--does little to help those efforts.

The school and gymnasium were designed by Anderson-based architect Arthur B. Henning, whose collection is in the Drawings and Documents Archive. Above are images from the building's 1961 dedication booklet titled "With the Future in Mind," which promotes the 8,189-seat building as "one of the most versatile and beautiful athletic and educational plants in Indiana."

It was built when high school basketball games were a regular weekend event for many Indiana residents. The builders in 1960 had no reason to predict the factories would close and people would stop going to the games. "Basketball has been a way of life in Anderson almost from its beginning in 1904," according to the dedication booklet. Now we're left wondering what the future will hold for this iconic structure.

Images: Anderson High School gymnasium dedication booklet, 1961; Anderson High School gymnasium construction photograph, ca. 1960. Arthur B. Henning Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collection, Ball State University Libraries.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pendleton Historical Museum Collection

The Drawings + Documents Archive is pleased to announce the release of the Pendleton Historical Museum Collection, an online collection documenting the rich architectural history of Pendleton, Indiana, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Archive recently collaborated with the Pendleton Historical Museum to digitize some of their material that relates to the built environment of the small town in Madison County located 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

The collection contains the complete text of the 1880 book History of Madison County, Indiana, as well as historical images of the downtown commercial district, residences, schools, churches, library, rail transportation, and Falls Park.

The town, like many other small towns in Indiana, finds its historical architecture threatened. One of the schools depicted in the collection, the 1936 Pendleton High School built by the WPA and located at 301 S. East Street, was just last week slated for demolition by the school board in order to create a parking lot in its place.

For more information on Pendleton, Indiana, please see the Pendleton Historical Museum's website

Images: Downtown business, ca. 1910 and Pendleton High School, 1936. Pendleton Historical Museum Collection.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

En-Ar-Co White Rose Service Station, Indianapolis

Continuing the gas station theme from yesterday's post is another Pierre & Wright design from the 1930s. Just like yestderday's post about the Gulf station, we have no working drawings for the station in the Pierre & Wright collection but were able to find photographs in the collection of Fran Schroeder, an architect who worked for the Pierre & Wright firm over many years. We have numerous design drawings for variations of En-Ar-Co White Rose gas stations and service stations, but we didn't know if any of the designs had been built until we came across these photographs.

Does anyone know its location on Meridian Street and if it still stands?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gulf Gas Station, Indianapolis

The beautiful Art Deco-style gas stations shown in the recent Edward Pierre exhibit Civic Pride Begins in Your Backyard, which is on display at Blackline Studio for Architecture in Fountain Square until the end of the month, led many of us to wonder if they had actually been built. The collection only contains the presentation drawings, which are so lovely yet give us very little information, but not the architectural plans.

Fortunately we also have the collection of architect Fran Schroeder (1908-1988), an architect who worked for the Pierre & Wright firm from 1929 to 1940 before starting his own firm. His collection documents much of the activity of the Pierre & Wright firm through photographs, newspaper clippings, and promotional brochures. This is where we began to make some really interesting discoveries, such as this Gulf gas and service station which stood in Indianapolis. Our records don't include an address, but perhaps you recognize it or its location?

Images: Gulf gas station drawing, ca. 1936  [3-050] Pierre & Wright Architectural Records; Gulf gas station photograph [34-215] Fran Schroeder Architectural Records. Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.