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.