National Rural Historic District article

March 28th, 2009

Friday, July 28, 2006


Protecting history
Residents want to see area preserved


By Leslie Collins
Star correspondent

The tunnels of trees along country roads south of Zionsville are like time machines
And perfect for designation as a National Historic area, local residents say.
Farmsteads along Moore Road and 96th Street — owned by the same families for generations — still have their original crop and pasture lines.
The old haunts of the Traders Point Hunt Club remain intact, and on a crisp autumn day you might still see a two-column parade of scarlet-coated riders on their meticulously manicured mounts — in what amount to present-day hunts without the prey.
An old church stands on its original 1834 plot along Kissell Road, where members still congregate on a Sunday.
These are but a few reasons a group of residents is paving the way for pockets of Pike Township (Marion County) and Eagle Township (Boone County) to be designated a National Rural Historic District.
The area is nestled within a triangle of interstates — I-465, I-65 and I-865 on the Northwestside of Indianapolis.
The historic designation puts no actual legal restrictions on property owners or developers, but can provide a layer of protection against federal projects such as road expansions and cell phone towers, said Cindy Lamberjack, who lives along Moore Road and has worked on the project.
The theory is that country roads preserve country settings.
“Any project dealing with federal aid is subject to several reviews, including historic preservation. It’s one step beyond where we are now,” she said.
That first step was a meeting Wednesday in Indianapolis, where a state review board approved an extensive study of the 60-square-mile area. The Multiple Properties Listing Document will be forwarded to the National Park Service.
The document is not a National Register nomination, said Frank Hurdis, chief of registration and surveys for the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
“Once the study is approved, anyone who wants to nominate properties within the area will have an easier time. They won’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
Properties being eyed by Lamberjack and her neighbors include Moore Road between 86th and 96th streets, areas of Kissell and Hunt Club roads and the Ford Road-and-96th Street area.
“What we’re doing here is layering levels of protection,” Lamberjack said.
Her neighbors concur. Steven L. Jones was one of about 50 people who attended a meeting earlier this month, where they heard from Hurdis and Eliza Steelwater, a consultant hired to write the study.
Jones lives in a subdivision on west 86th Street, near the affected area. He’s been rallying neighbors since the Boone County Commissioners proposed widening a bridge at Ford Road and 96th Street, two years ago. The commissioners backed off the plan.
“We want growth that is constructive and conducive to the property values,” Jones said. “We want to preserve Traders Point more in the spirit Zionsville has been preserved, as opposed to letting it go the way of the rest of Pike Township.”
Steelwater has documented the historical integrity of land along Moore Road, such as that purchased during the Great Depression by William Fortune. It remains within the same family today and is the site of the Traders Point Creamery.
“They have made building changes, but the acreage maintains historic boundaries as far back as the 1930s,” Steelwater said. “Crops may change, but the same roads, field edges and similar landscape is still there.”
Fritz Kunz owns the creamery and has been in on the process from the start.
“It’s very exciting to think we might be able to influence the development of the area, so we won’t just throw the look of our area completely down the drain,” he said.
The original Traders Point Hunt Club started in the Moore Road stable of one of Kunz’s forebears, Bowman Elder.
Histories such as this have ensured the first step in the neighbors’ plan for historic preservation.
Read the 82-page application and a history of the area at: ship_mpd.doc

Traders Point Mill

March 28th, 2009

Traders Point Mill similar to original at Lafayette Road and Eagle Creek

On May 8, 1897, Mancher F. Glidewell deeded the four-story grist mill in Traders Point to the Traders Point Church of Christ for $150.00. The mill was built in 1864 by Josiah Coughran and John Jennings, who also laid out the hamlet of Traders Point. The mill was situated between Eagle Creek and Lafayette Road. In preparation for use as a meeting house, the fieldstone foundation building of hand-hewn lumber from the nearby forest was cut down to one and a half stories.

Traders Point Covered Bridge

March 28th, 2009

This covered bridge once spanned Fishback Creek on West 86th Street in Traders Point. Safely relocated by preservationists in the early 1960s during the construction of Interstate 65, the bridge is now barely visible to passing motorists. It is located within the southwest quadrant of West 86th Street and Interstate 65 on private property, down a steep gravel drive that plunges nearly 100 feet below the grade of West 86th Street. A Howe truss bridge, it was originally constructed in 1876 and is 88 feet in length. It is registered in the world guide of covered bridges as 14-49-01. It is the only surviving covered bridge in Marion County.

Admiral Heslar and Traders Point

March 28th, 2009

(photo of carriage house)

Admiral Heslar was the first commanding officer of the Naval Armory in Indianapolis, built in 1936.

Between 1943 and 1945, Navy strategists gathered at the Naval Armory in
Indianapolis to plan their wartime campaigns, including the D-Day operation.
A land-locked Admiral Heslar, transplanted to central Indiana by the Navy, designed and built a unique home in the Traders Point area to remind him of life at sea. Built on a 10 acre site west of Fishback Creek on the northside of West 86th Street (and just west of the Traders Point covered bridge that has since been relocated), Heslar designed a water filled backyard complete with aqueducts to
simulate being at sea or a sea view. Sadly, the only remnant of the Heslar mansion is the carriage house pictured here. The construction of the armory building on White River was constructed during Heslar’s tenure and is now named for him.

“Central Indiana is probably the last place most people would expect to find
a naval landmark of international significance. That was exactly the hope in
World War II, when Navy generals and admirals—seeking to avoid the constant
surveillance on the coasts—gathered regularly at the Heslar Naval Armory in
Indianapolis to plan their Atlantic and Pacific campaigns. In spite of its
comparative anonymity in the pages of history, the Armory has drawn
appreciative local attention since its construction in 1936. With its
gleaming white Art Moderne-style exterior, the building seems dropped by
mistake on the banks of the White River near 30th Street—something you’d
expect to see in Miami Beach, not Indianapolis. ” Indiana Historic Landmarks Statement regarding armory.

Traders Point Church Founding Members Picnic

March 28th, 2009

Former Traders Point resident George Wilkins learned from relatives that this photo was taken at the Ebenezer Christian Church Founders Day Picnic one Sunday in the 1860s. Ebenezer Christian Church was originally located in the flood plain on the west side of Eagle Creek, south of Wilson Road. Ebenezer later split into two separate churches; Traders Point Church of Christ (8200 Lafayette Road) and Traders Point Christian Church, which relocated in 2006 from 7850 Lafayette Road to its present location in Boone County.

Live Jazz at Eagle Creek Park!

March 28th, 2009

Friday, June 09, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS – Twice the number of shows, longer performances each week, and a brand new concert stage are on tap as Eagle Creek Park prepares to welcome jazz aficionados to the second season of Jazz on the Point, the summer jazz concert series that takes place on Tuesday nights at the Eagle Creek Park Marina. The park is located at 7840 West 56th Street, on Indianapolis’ northwest side.

“Last year’s jazz series exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said Jim Weir, executive director of the Eagle Creek Park Foundation, Inc., the series’ presenter. “We would have been pleased with a hundred or so persons per show. Instead, by the fourth and final performance, more than 500 people were enjoying great music from chairs and blankets on the Point, and eight pontoon boats, all packed with jazz lovers, had docked at the Marina!

“It was obvious to us that the jazz fans wanted more. They spoke, and we listened,” he commented.

This year’s Jazz on the Point consists of eight shows on Tuesdays beginning June 20 and extending through August 15 (no show on July 4). Performances will run 90 minutes, from 7 to 8:30 pm, 30 minutes longer than last year.

Additionally, a new concert stage has been constructed by park staff and volunteers to better facilitate the musicians. The stage also is used for the park’s Wednesday night acoustical music series, In Concert with Nature, which runs through August 16. All concerts are free with regular park admission of $4 per vehicle.

The Jazz on the Point line-up includes:

June 20 – Monika Herzig & Friends with special guest, poet Norbert Krapf June 27 – George Middleton July 11 – The Oliver Nelson, Jr. Quartet July 18 – Gregg Bacon July 25 – The Dan Behringer Trio August 1 – Rob Swaynie of Indy Guitar & Friends August 8 – Rob White August 15 – Ty Causey

Ample free parking is available at the Marina. Guests should bring chairs or blankets. Light refreshments will be available at the Marina concession stand. Guests also are welcome to bring their own food and beverages (reminder: alcoholic beverages are not permitted inside the park).

Jazz on the Point is presented by WYJZ Radio-Smooth Jazz 100.9 FM, the American Dairy Association of Indiana, and the Eagle Creek Park Foundation, a 2000-member not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of one of the nation’s largest municipal parks. Foundation event sponsors include the law firm of Bingham McHale, LLP; the Indianapolis Colts; Goelzer Investment Management, Inc.; City Securities Corp.; Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; Indianapolis Power & Light; My Favorite Muffin & Bagel Café; National City Bank of Indianapolis; Pedigo Chevrolet; Hautacam Consulting; Schmidt Associates; the law firm of Stewart & Irwin, PC; the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and Indy Parks.

For additional information about Jazz on the Point, call the Eagle Creek Park office at 317/327.7110.

Traders Point Christian Church Cross Raising

March 28th, 2009

Perhaps the most enduring symbol of the Traders Point community has been the Traders Point Christian Church. For many in central Indiana it may be their first and only introduction to the term “Traders Point”. Thousands of members past and present have participated in baptisms, weddings, and funerals from inside its walls. The church has influenced many through educating youngpeople; starting with a pre school that has evolved into an accredited academy, the school within the church building educates several hundred students annually in grades K-8.

Started in a small log cabin on the banks of Eagle Creek in the 1850′s, relocation has been a constant theme of the church. Whether caused by growth in membership, or the frequent flooding of Eagle Creek, Traders Point Christian Church has been no stranger to relocation. But until recently they were always able to stay within the general neighborhood of Traders Point, Indiana. After a decade of trying to find a site for growth in Pike Township, the neighborhood anchor relocated to Boone County from its perch atop Lafayette Road at Moore Road in the summer of 2006.

A new chapter in the life of an important area landmark was marked on February 26. 2006, when hundreds of members witnessed the raising of the cross at the new site. Those in attendance noted that shortly after the cross had been attached to the new structure, a rainbow appeared.

Where is Traders Point, Indiana?

March 28th, 2009

The spot where Eagle Creek crosses Lafayette Road is a logical guess. This would have been a point where trade was most likely to occur between the fur traders and the Indians. There is considerable evidence that exactly such activity took place. The first white man known to have owned property in the area was William Conner, a well known fur trader who used his knowledge of the Indians and their culture to negotiate treaties with the Indians on behalf of William Henry Harrison, the first governor of the Indiana Territory. Conner bought a single parcel in Marion County, an 80 acre parcel that included the exact spot where Eagle Creek and Lafayette Road intersected. At that time, in 1823, Lafayette Road had not yet been platted. But by 1835 it would become the first road through the township, evidence that it may have been a familiar trail to the traders and Indians at the time of Conner’s purchase. The map above is from the 1956 quadrangle map and predates the construction of Eagle Creek Reservoir and Interstate 65. At that time Dandy Trail entered Traders Point and Lafayette Road south of a gas station now occupied by a city transportion garage.

Traders Point Gas Stations

March 28th, 2009

Traders Point Gas Stations and businesses

Traders Point, Indiana Gas Stations

The introduction of the automobile was quickly followed by auto repair people. Traders Point residents Homer Resler and George Cecil Wilkins opened the Resler Wilkins Garage in 1917 on the Westside of U. S. 52 (Lafayette Road). Traders Point attracted a diverse clientele of locals and travelers. Lafayette Road was the first toll road through the township, platted in 1832, and the primary artery between Indianapolis and Lafayette.

Resler and Wilkins owned the first filling station just a day’s horse ride outside of Indianapolis. And since maintenance of the horseless carriage was a job left to specialists, they were successful. More than a few people marveled at Homer Resler’s mechanical talents. An avid motorcyclist, early in his career, Homer lost one of his arms when he crashed into a tree on Lafayette Road near McCurdy Creek. Customers marveled at his ability to make tedious repairs and more than a few never noticed he only one arm.

The hilly terrain surrounding Traders Point attracted an elite bunch. Dozens of hunting cabins and lodges of some of the most prominent Indianapolis businessmen were just minutes from Traders Point. It was the ideal distance from the city home for an afternoon ride or a weekend getaway It is likely their customers included Eli & J.K. Lilly, William H. Block, Herman Krannert, William Fortune, and Bowman Elder. But their mainstay was the motorists just passing through to places like Royalton, Lebanon, Lafayette and even Chicago. Within 10 years of opening the first garage they divided their property and each opened a gas station with garage.
(Insert Resler garage 1941 photo)
Typical motorists on a country drive to Traders Point were encouraged to take 56th Street to its western end at Eagle Creek where the road dipped down into the valley and became Dandy Trail. This aptly-named scenic route along the west side of Eagle Creek was a winding two-lane road, often dusty, that meandered through a hilly forest of mature first generation hardwood, and provided a canopy of shade. (Insert map showing Dandy Trail) The Resler Wilkins garage was conveniently located at the far north end of Dandy Trail where it formed a tee into Lafayette Road. Once in Traders Point the motorist might stop by Burden’s Lunch while waiting for any maintenance repair work to be completed.

When not occupied by customers, they would remodel Model A’s and T’s into pick up trucks.
Wilkins became known as offering the best (and possibly only) wrecker service between Indianapolis and Lafayette.

The good fortunes enjoyed by a few local entrepreneurs were surpassed only by the waters of Eagle Creek.

Unable to stay within its banks, the Eagle Creek flood of 1957 was the death knell to Traders Point. In 1965 the Flood Control Board notified all building owners in Traders Point that their properties were being condemned and by 1967 most had been removed.

From the early 1930′s to 1964 there were a number of businesses on the westside of Lafayette Road in Traders Point near Eagle Creek. The only surviving business is the Co-op operated by Bill Kappel where my wife buys birdseed. These photos are of three neighbors; The Wilkins Garage and Gulf Service Station, the Resler Garage and Service Station, and a lunch counter situated near them named Burden’s Lunch. For some reason known clear only to members of the Indianapolis Flood Control Board, all businesses except the Co-op were forced to close in the 1960s when the homes on the eastside of Lafayette Road were destroyed. A new business operated by the city to collect hazardous waste is just south of the Resler Garage and sits atop the former Dandy Trail.

Steve Jones on Real Estate Values

March 28th, 2009

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Steve Jones comments on real estate value

Read the following commentary by Steve Jones at the Indianapolis Star on-line web site:

October 30, 2005

My View: Steve Jones
The real home-value problem is excess supply
October 30, 2005

There’s an old canard in the financial world that real estate is always a solid investment. Unfortunately, in Greater Indianapolis, this has not been the case. As described in The Star’s Oct. 16 article, “Bringing down the house,” the city is one of the few markets in the country where average home prices have experienced little or no appreciation. And this has occurred at a time when the price of lumber is especially high, suggesting that real residential property values have actually declined significantly.
Some view the relatively low price of housing here as an advantage since it would seem to suggest a lower cost of home ownership. But is it really cheaper when homes values are flat or declining?
The Star cited several macro-economic factors contributing to the poor housing market, including the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs and a decline in median income levels. But if the economy alone explains the slide in home prices, then why do we continue to see new residential construction swallowing up ever more farmland in the collar counties? The fundamental problem here is excess supply, not inadequate demand.
Why are developers and builders effectively over-supplying the residential market? Because in a market with flat to declining prices, prospective homebuyers tend to choose the new development given that the new home prices are slightly more than what resellers require just to break even. In many cases, young homebuyers are attracted to new developments by “zero-down” loans and other inducements. But when one homeowner in such a starter neighborhood loses a job, he or she soon discovers that the resale market won’t support their initial purchase price because a nearly identical residential development is going up a few blocks farther out.
The sad result is often foreclosure, brought on by the depreciation of the home value as much as the loss of income. A high foreclosure rate within a neighborhood can set off a downward spiral in neighboring property values that becomes a catalyst for even more foreclosures.
What can be done? First, better land-use planning and zoning strategies are required. This would encourage a “big picture” approach that balances industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural land use with the public’s cost for schools, roads, sewers, as well as public safety and services. This means impact fees that would be borne by developers and new homebuyers.
In many cases, residential developers are really selling a neighborhood’s school district. But often the property taxes on the new homes don’t cover the costs of the additional children in the school system. The state’s school-funding formula should be changed to stop the special subsidies offered to fast-growing school districts, which are effectively a wealth transfer from taxpayers to developers. Residential developments of more than a few units should be required to tie in with existing sewer lines or build the necessary lines up front.
With Indiana ranking second in mortgage foreclosures, this issue has clearly become a legitimate concern for state government. At a minimum, the state should start participating in the federal government program that provides matching funds for the purchase of agricultural development rights.
Land-use issues involve an inherently public component. Why should developers and builders be allowed to pump a thousand new students into your school system and expect you to pay for it? They shouldn’t, not unless they pay for it.
Failure to act may have wider implications than just the housing deflation recognized in The Star piece. If residential growth continues apace in the collar counties, it means even more infrastructure needs. These are costs that could be avoided if we create the right incentives that prompt more responsible development patterns. But if taxpayers are forced to shoulder these unnecessary costs, the inevitable result will be higher property and income taxes. Then we will have lost one of the main advantages Indiana enjoys in attracting new businesses and jobs to the state.