Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old Powder House, Arsenal Tech High School

Before the campus became a school it was the site of a U.S. Arsenal established by Civil War-era Indiana Governor Morton to supply troops west of the Cumberland Mountains. Construction was authorized by Congress on July 11, 1862, less than two weeks after the Confederate victory of the Seven Days battles in Virginia where thousands of soldiers perished and a month before the horrific Second Battle of Bull Run, also a Confederate victory in Virginia.

The U. S. Arsenal would replace the state arsenal, which was located elsewhere in the city. In 1863, General Buckingham chose the 75 acre site located half of a mile east of downtown Indianapolis which would eventually host the impressive Arsenal Building, barracks, commandant's residence, guardhouse, powder magazine, and barn. The original state arsenal site was discontinued when the U.S. Arsenal took over in 1864.

By 1903 the site was no longer needed by the U.S. Government and it was sold at auction for $154,000 to Winona Group, which operated the Winona Agricultural and Technical Institute on the campus until it went bankrupt in 1909. After that, a receiver was appointed for the property and in 1912 the Indiana Supreme Court decision placed title in the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners with the condition that the grounds must be used for educational purposes.

Above is a pencil drawing from 1932 of the "Old Powder House" by Joseph O. Cezar, an Indianapolis architect who often drew sketches of city landmarks for use in Christmas cards or, seemingly, for his own amusement. From the amount of these types of sketches in his collection, he clearly seemed to be an architect that very much enjoyed the process of drawing. He was likely inspired to create this drawing due to the extensive remodeling to the Arsenal Building that was taking place that year by the local architecture firm D. A. Bohlen & Son.

Image: Old Powder House, [Arsenal] Tech High School, drawing, 1932. [21-32] Joseph O. Cezar Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Recources: Arsenal Building, Indianapolis, Historical American Building Survey documentation, 1971. [DOC-71.012], Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Arsenal Tech High School!

Arsenal Technical High School celebrated an impressive milestone this week when it turned 100 years old on September 11th. Of course the original military structures are much older than that, and some, such as the Pierre & Wright designed Milo H. Stuart Memorial building (seen above in the article Tech Honors Its Founder) built in 1938, are more recent. The Drawings + Documents Archive contains an extensive range of items related to the high school campus and will be posting a series of images from various collections in honor of this historic campus.

For this week, you see a small poster printed for its 20th anniversary in 1932. This comes from our Fran E. Schroeder Collection, an architect who worked for Pierre & Wright before starting his own firm in Indianapolis. Given the extent of material related to Arsenal Tech within his collection, it's likely he worked on the 1938 Milo H. Stuart Memorial building. The Pierre & Wright building is depicted in an Indianapolis Star article about its dedication, which took place May 22, 1940, a date chosen to honor the day known as "Supreme day by the faculty and the student body because of a Supreme Court decision which gave the campus of 76 acres to the school city of Indianapolis." As seen in the third image, an interior mural within the building "memorializes the life and service of Milo H. Stuart, one of Indiana's stalwart educators and inspired administrators."

Images: Arsenal Technical High School clippings and photographs, Fran E. Schroeder Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.