13 Chapters
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8 Passing Through: Historic Preservation in Pike County’s Patoka Bottoms

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Edith Sarra

The place was, and still is, south of where county roads 300 West and 200 South intersect, approximately eleven miles below Petersburg in Pike County, Indiana. If you were to turn west from State Road 57 onto County Road 200 South, just north of the Gibson County line, and follow that road until you reach the first crossroads, you could turn again, south this time, and find yourself, as I did ten years ago, on what the late nineteenth-century histories of Pike and Gibson Counties call “the old state road.”

The origin of this road is difficult to pinpoint. A survey of Pike County Commissioners Reports (1817–1826) suggests it may have been constructed as early as 1825. For more than a century, until it was bypassed in 1936 by State Road 57, it served as the main route between Petersburg, the Pike County seat, and what is now Oakland City in eastern Gibson County. Follow this road south and it will plunge you soon enough into a wide floodplain flanked on either side by crop fields. An old set of oil well storage tanks stands off to the left here, just beyond where the road makes a short switchback along the bluff as it drops into the broad valley of the Patoka River’s South Fork.

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3 Ode to a Bungalow

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Teresa Miller

As I sit writing, I look out the west window through a curtain of lace, slatted wooden blinds, and mullions. My gaze moves on through the boughs of two century-old firs standing guard over the dignified front porch of the neighboring house. Additional trees provide a tracery of branches in winter and a comforting green canopy in summer. My view stops at the historic Dunning House, beautifully proportioned with twin porches flanking a two-story brick central structure. Toward dusk the sky changes color – first, from bright cerulean to a dusty, smoky blue. As the sun lowers, the light reflects off the bottoms of the clouds in colors ranging from lavender to pink, perhaps with bit of ochre. The changes in cloud form and color may be subtle or striking, but they are always beautiful at that magic moment of early evening. It is a view that evokes a past of tree-lined streets, graceful buildings, and a slower-paced life. How did I come to be so fortunate as to be able to sit in my study and enjoy such a sweet view?

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7 Preservation as Good Business

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Gayle Karch Cook

Bill and I had always liked indiana history and architecture, and we spent hours exploring southern Indiana in the 1960s when we could spare the gasoline and the time. That was our recreation, eking out a few hours from our small Bloomington business, which we had started together at home and were gradually growing.

In 1976, the bicentennial year, historic preservation was emerging into the limelight nationally and locally. Bloomington Restorations, Inc., newly organized as a non-profit, was bringing attention to worthy old buildings in Monroe County. “Preservation is Good Business” was a National Trust theme, and adaptive reuse was being widely promoted. A stately 1850 downtown Bloomington home, the James Cochran house, was vacant and probably headed for demolition, while our thirteen-year-old medical business was outgrowing its quarters each year. Bill and I decided that we should see if preservation really is good business and renovate the Cochran house as an additional office building – our own bicentennial project.

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13 No Place Like Home: Preservation, the Past, and Personal Identity

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

David Brent Johnson

There is something mystical about the places you inhabited when you were young. Visit them decades later and you will find your mind redressing and regressing the houses and other buildings, cascading you into a reflective state of haze in the face of suddenly living memory. The past is a fading dream, and buildings are its symbols of meaning, its totems of silent significance, its runic monuments to a sense that what came before us mattered; therefore what we do now will matter as well.

When I was twenty-three I returned to Indianapolis after spending several years at Indiana University in Bloomington and a summer working on a salmon processing boat off the coast of Alaska. I had grown up in the Midwestern metropolis in the 1970s and early 1980s, a time when the city’s vitality was at a low ebb. Although population rankings placed my hometown as the eleventh-largest urban concentration of residents in the country, it tended to have the vibe of a minor-league burg, bereft of significant sports franchises save the Pacers, with no skyline to speak of, and a downtown that seemed to be struck by a neutron bomb every day at 5 PM. The buildings were there, but where were the people? I sensed no spark, no soul in “India-no-place” or “Naptown,” as the city was derisively called.

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5 On Loan from the Sea

Nancy R Hiller Quarry Books ePub

Scott Russell Sanders

Why, you may ask, does a weathervane in the shape of a fish swim atop the dome of the county courthouse in Bloomington, Indiana, six hundred miles from the sea? The explanations that circulate hereabouts range from sober to silly. My own theory tends, I suppose, toward the crackpot end of the spectrum, but I will share it with you anyway, because it belongs to my private mythology of this place.

A fish, some argue, simply has the right contour for a weathervane, long and flat to catch the wind. Some speculate that a few of the families who settled the town in 1818 may have migrated to the hills of southern Indiana from Massachusetts, where codfish whirled upon rooftops. Some think the weathervane is modeled on the perch in nearby ponds, even though it’s the size of a ten-year-old child. Some explain the fish as a zoological compromise between Democrats, who wanted a rooster, and Republicans, who wanted an elephant. Some regard it as a symbol of Christ. Others see it as a warning that the actions of government, including those carried out in the courthouse below, may be fishy. Still others claim that the blacksmith who is given credit for hammering the weathervane out of a copper sheet and coating it with gold leaf in the 1820s actually brought it with him when he moved to Bloomington from Louisville, and thus the fish hails not from an ocean or pond but from a river, the mighty Ohio.

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