Friday, July 1, 2016

Drawings + Documents Archive receives grant to digitize the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation Drawings

The Drawings + Documents Archive was recently awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant in the amount of $14,980 to digitize the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation Landscape Architectural Drawings Collection held at the Drawings + Documents Archive in the College of Architecture and Planning. The collection chronicles the development of the extensive park and boulevard system in Indiana’s largest metropolitan area from the 19th century to the mid-20th century, and provides an unparalleled look into the creation of both major destination parks and small neighborhood parks, as well as the tree-lined boulevards that transverse the city thoroughfares. 

The LSTA grant will provide funds to hire a project assistant, purchase supplies, and digitize 3 damage assessment rolls, 1, 400 landscape, engineering, and architectural drawings and presentation boards, and 2,345 aperture cards for over 200 Indianapolis parks, parkways, golf courses, bridges, boulevards, playgrounds, amphitheaters, stadiums, greenhouses, and other public facilities managed by the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation from 1898 to 1988. The majority of the collection dates from 1900-1920. After over 100 years in storage, expect the collection to debut online in 2017.

Images: Fall Creek proposed grade, bed stream drawing, 1914; Tarkington Park tennis courts site plan, 1959. Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation Drawings, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Art Moderne With a Bubbly Personality

The Art Moderne commercial building at 2201 East 46th Street in Indianapolis is currently undergoing renovations that uncovered its original limestone facade with striking cursive font and delightful bubbles for Sutho Suds, a former Indy-based detergent brand that did frothy sales during WWII but was all washed up in the years following the war. Founded in 1943 by husband and wife team of Paul and Frances Towsley, the company quickly outgrew their factory at 1201 Cornell Avenue and began planning to double their factory space. 


When the building was erected in 1945, the company was doing very well and had the capital for a much expanded space and even had plans to build a factory in Chicago. However, due to the rise in new competitors during the post war period, sales quickly spiraled down the drain and the company went into receivership just a few months after moving into their new building.

The building housed a lot of other businesses since 1945. Most recently it was the headquarters for Double 8 Foods. Before that it held 7-11 Super Markets and even the architecture firm Odle/Burke Architects.

But the question on everyone's mind when Mark Dollase from Indiana Landmarks posted the Sutho Suds facade photographs to Facebook this week was: who was the architect who designed bubbles for limestone pilasters on this building? That architect was no other than Joseph Cezar, whose collection can be found at the Drawings + Documents Archive. He may be the greatest Indianapolis architect that no one knows about. The Sutho Suds drawings, however, were a mystery in the collection. Without an address or location on the drawings, we didn't know where the building was located. Because the sign was covered with a subsequent facade, no one else knew where it was, either. Thanks to inquisitive architecture fans and social media, we now have a complete record in our database and Indianapolis architecture fans now know a little bit more about Joseph Cezar's work!

Many thanks to Sharon Butsch Freeland who helped piece together this puzzle and graciously provided the newspaper clippings regarding Sutho Suds and the building.

Images: Sutho Suds building photograph by Mark Dollase, 2016; Sutho Suds building and signage drawings by Joseph O. Cezar, 1945; Sutho Suds advertisements from the Indianapolis Star, 1944, collected by Sharon Butsch Freeland, 2016.

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Donation: Indiana State Normal School Library, 1907

Today has been a day rich with donations that we want to share. We had to pick where to begin and decided we should begin with the library, which also happens to be the oldest set of drawings among the donations. This lovely set of drawings for the library at Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University) in Terre Haute, Indiana, by architects J.F. Alexander and Son highlights the extraordinary center light well and elaborate Beaux-Arts details throughout the building. It was built for $150,000 in 1909, but the best news is that it is still standing on campus and undergoing a $16M renovation that will turn it into a student academic honors center.

Little seems to be known about architect John F. Alexander. What we do know is that he was trained in St. Louis, received a degree from the University of Toronto, and worked for a firm in Chicago before settling back in Lafayette, Indiana. According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Tippecanoe County Courthouse, Alexander "specialized in the use of stone in both public and domestic architecture and many of Lafayette's finest houses erected in this period were his work."

Just a few years prior to the Indiana State Normal School library project, he designed the Hoopeston Carnegie Public Library in Champaign, Illinois. It completed construction in 1904, and is a much smaller, one story masonry building.

He was also heavily involved in the Western Architects Association and then the American Institute of Architects after the two merged in 1889. He served on a number of committees and was given some small roles by the then-president Richard Morris Hunt at the 1891 AIA Convention in Boston.

Images: Library, Indiana State Normal School (Indiana State University), 1907, diazo reproductions, undated. Gift of RATIO Architects. Photographs by Carol Street.

Sources: J.F. Alexander and Son biographical file, Drawings + Documents Archive; Monica Giacomucci e-mail, 18 February 2016; Tippecanoe County Courthouse National Register of Historic Places nomination form, 1972.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Response to Drawings + Documents Archive: The Movie

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) recently checked in with Drawings + Documents Archive's archivist, Carol Street, to discuss the archive's latest outreach initiative. You can find the interview at SAA's ArchivesAWARE! blog and see the inspiration that led to our using LEGO to discuss architectural research.

The overwhelmingly positive response to our outreach video has been incredibly gratifying for everyone at the archive who worked on it. We hope the video shares our enthusiasm for archives and shows the world that archives and archival research can be fun, not dusty. Many thanks to SAA and others (even LEGO!) for showing our little video some love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Brookside Park, ca. 1910

Located on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, Brookside Park was one of the first two city parks in Indiana’s capital.  The City of Indianapolis purchased the land that would become Brookside Park in 1870, officially declaring the property a city park in 1900.  Shortly thereafterthe space was incorporated into George E. Kessler’s park and boulevard master plan for Indianapolis, acquiring many of the picturesque qualities that it retains today. 
Although the landscapes of Kessler's plan are often celebrated for their meandering pathways, idyllic tree lines, and vast grassy fields, numerous works of architecture, large and small, were also essential to Kessler's overall vision.  Among these works was the Shelter House at Brookside Park, an idiosyncratic structure that represented a current fancy for playful eclecticism.  Accordingly, it is difficult to assign a single  "style" to this unique building.  Its river stone foundation was reminiscent of East Coast precedent; its flared hipped roof evinced an Asian influence; and its rustic wood posts and balustrades looked as if they had been plucked from a storybook.   
Complementing the overall woodsy character of the park, the shelter would have been a delightful surprise for first-time visitors and a perfect setting for picnics and parties. 

The building itself was a feat of skilled carpentry.  Indeed, the construction of the roof required many well-calculated cuts and snug joints.  The plan for the roof structure, pictured here, illustrates the complex intersections between the flared hipped roof over the main body of the building and the tapered conical roofs over the two cylindrical corner bay projections.  Note that the hipped roof would have been covered in lath before the rafters of the conical roof sections were installed.  The design and construction of these features would have called for a mastery of geometry that is increasingly rare among architects and carpenters.   
Although the Shelter House no longer stands, the records in the Ball State University Drawings + Documents Archive serve to remind us of a quirky treasure that once graced the grounds of Brookside Park. 
Written by Sam Burgess, Graduate Assistant in the Drawings + Documents Archive.
Images: Brookside Park Shelter House drawings, ca. 1910. [40-67a] Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Drawings + Documents Archive: The Movie!

Learn about the Drawings + Documents Archive by watching our new, LEGO stop-motion movie on YouTube! ( Follow Sarah, a student at the College of Architecture and Planning, as she navigates primary source researching at the archive and learns about all of the resources available to her--from original architectural drawings to 3-D prints.

Archives staff is incredibly grateful for the talents of its graduate assistants, particularly Raluca Filimon who directed the project, and for the enthusiasm of our narrator, Paul Jones, who stopped in one morning to remind us to buy donuts in the atrium and became an integral part of the project. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Collection in the Drawings + Documents Archives! Richard G. Foltz Architectural Books

The Richard G. Foltz Architectural Books Collection was recently donated by Walter Foltz, the son of Indiana architect Richard Foltz who studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the early 20th century. The collection contains eight extraordinary volumes of architectural history, including Oeuvres Choisies De J.B. Piranesi, Frontispsces, Compositions, Prisons, Trophees, Plan et Vues De Rome, Dessines et Graves De 1746 A 1778, which was published in 1913 and depicts 140 incredible etchings from the 18th century Italian artist and architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Other volumes in the collection are Jardins d’Espagne (1926) and Monuments antiques, relevés et restaurés par les architectes pensionnaires de l'Académie de France à Rome; notices archéologiques par Georges Seure (1910-1912).

Images: A selection of images from the Richard G. Foltz Architectural Books Collection. Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University.