Listen to Hoosier History Live! at 11:30 a.m. each Saturday on WICR 88.7 FM. You also can listen online at the WICR website during the broadcast or you can join our listening group at Bookmama's in Irvington to listen to, and discuss, the Saturday show. We invite you to visit our website!
Aug. 14 show
Parks, boulevards system history in Indy
Earlier this summer, Hoosier History Live! explored the history of Indiana state parks. Next up is the system of parks and boulevards in Indianapolis, which involves the life of an internationally renowned landscape architect, George Kessler, who put together the first comprehensive, citywide parks plan. A German immigrant who eventually was based out of St. Louis, Kessler (1862-1923) never really became a resident of Indy, but he left a lasting impact on the city.
Nelson will be joined in studio by two Indianapolis-based landscape architects who know this turf well. His guests will be Meg Storrow of Storrow Kinsella Associates, who put together the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Indy's park and boulevard system, and David Roth of Synthesis Incorporated.
With Meg and David as our guides, we will dig in and explore the creation of parks here, including Kessler's redesign of pre-existing Garfield Park (he created its well-known sunken gardens) and his vision for a chain of parks linked by wide, sweeping boulevards.
Kessler Boulevard, built after his death, was named in his honor. His system of parkways followed the major waterways in Marion County, including White River, Fall Creek and Pleasant Run.
Some fun facts:
- Military Park and University Park also pre-date Kessler's plan, which was presented in 1909. Originally a militia training ground during the Civil War era, Military Park is located east of today's IUPUI campus. Although University Park had become a city park in the 1870s, Kessler redesigned it, creating formal paths and suggesting a central fountain.
- Suggestions for parks plans in the late 1800s and early 1900s were highly controversial in Indianapolis. Residents had a bushel of objections, ranging from costs to the proposed location of parks. According to several sources, many residents felt the Northside would reap most of the benefits.
- The colorful mayor of Indy at the turn of the last century, Thomas Taggart, aggressively pushed for the purchase of the farmland that became Riverside Park, which was not included in initial park plans. (Regular listeners will recall from a Hoosier History Live! show in June that, after his term as mayor, Taggart purchased the French Lick Springs Hotel and made it a lavish resort.)
- Kessler designed parks systems for several other major cities, including Kansas City, Cincinnati and Dallas. His plan for Indy, however, is considered among his best-known. According to the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, he emphasized "a chain of parks brought to the doors of all sections of the community" linked by wide, sweeping boulevards.
- At Brookside Park on the Eastside, Kessler designed scenic bridges. Objecting to the 19th-century metal trusses that spanned Fall Creek, Kessler also designed the Capitol Avenue bridge across the waterway.
Nelson also plans to ask Meg about her current work on the enhancement of Alice Carter Park at North Meridian Street and Westfield Boulevard. A co-founder and principal of Storrow Kinsella, Meg has been involved in an extensive array of landscape design, greenway and park projects across Indiana. At Synthesis, David has been the project manager for many urban design and greenway projects across Indiana, as well as a playground project at Washington Park in Indianapolis.
History Mystery question
Our History Mystery question is a carry-over from last week, when there was no correct answer. The question concerns a popular Republican congressman from Indiana who is thought to have been the last public figure to shake Abraham Lincoln's hand before the president's assassination in 1865.
The Hoosier congressman, who later would become vice president of the United States, had been invited to accompany President and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford's Theatre that fateful evening in April, but he declined. The Hoosier congressman was elected speaker of the House twice, then became vice president. Hint: He was the first of (so far) five Hoosiers to become vice president.
Question: Name the Indiana politician.
The call-in number for the correct answer is (317) 788-3314, and the prize is a one-night stay at the Holiday Inn Express Indianapolis City Centre, as well as a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the ICVA.
Chris Gahl of the ICVA says it time for us to "Dig-IN." This Taste of Indiana is a daylong event featuring growers and chefs from across Indiana. Held Sunday, Aug. 29, at White River State Park, this foodie event will draw in the top chefs from across the state for a unique gastronomic experience.
Highlights include free local food tastings prepared by local chefs, urban gardening exhibits, free wine and beer tastings, discussion panels, cooking demonstrations, urban gardening exhibits and much more.
Combining the best of what farmers markets have to offer with the know-how of some great food minds, this event will inspire the senses, educate the mind and bring many of Indiana's best and brightest agricultural and culinary experts to the forefront. Tickets are only $15.
Your friends in Hoosierdom,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, tech and web director
Garry Chilluffo, consultant
Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support:
Barrington Jewels, Storrow Kinsella Associates, Henry's Coffee Bistro on East, The Fadely Trust, Indiana Historical Society, Lucas Oil and Story Inn.
Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities Council, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Chelsea Niccum and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through the Indiana Humanities Council. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.
Aug. 21 show
Meridian Park neighborhood history
Colorful history, spacious porches, towering trees and a diverse assortment of homeowners are aspects of the next neighborhood to be featured in our rotating series.
Many of the homes in the historic Meridian Park neighborhood on the near -Northside of Indianapolis were built between 1905 and 1930. They range from Arts and Crafts bungalows to spacious Dutch Colonial Revival, Tudor and Italian Villa homes. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Meridian Park has been in the spotlight this summer, which has included a popular home and garden tour.
For Meridian Park's turn on Hoosier History Live!, Nelson will be joined in studio by longtime residents of the scenic neighborhood, which is tucked away east of Meridian Street and north of 30th Street. His guests from Meridian Park, which has been revitalized during the last 30 years, will include Ben Solomon, who lives in an antique-filled Colonial Revival home built in 1916. Ben, who is the co-owner of Solomon/Jones Antiques and Interiors, has filled his historic house with furnishings purchased from the estates of prominent Indianapolis families.
Nelson also will be joined by photographer Lamar Richcreek, a faculty member at the Herron School of Art and Design who has lived in Meridian Park for decades with his wife Jean.
Fun fact: Meridian Park's homes include Tuckaway, the historic bungalow owned in the early 1900s by a famous palmist and her husband, a fashion designer. Tuckaway was the subject earlier this year of one of our History Mystery questions.
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