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Circus Trip 2018: Oldfields Gardens

Day 25, Thursday, August 9, 2018

Indianapolis, Indiana

I went to the Indianapolis Art Museum!  But first, I must try to explain the names…  Newfields is the official name of the Indianapolis Art Museum complex; it is named for the newer house built on the site that the museum is on.  The art museum is just one building on the site, though.  In 1966, Ruth Lilly and Josiah K. Lilly, the younger generation of the pharmaceutical king family, donated the estate to the Art Association of Indianapolis for their museum complex.  The donation included the country homes of the family; the original home was named Oldfields, and the new house was Newfields!

The Newfields complex includes the Oldfields gardens, the Oldfields Mansion (also called Lilly House), which was accessible through a self-guided tour, and the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Clowes Pavilion (another mansion which is currently closed for restoration) as well as the 100 acre Virginia B Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which I did not have time to visit.  Admission is $18, which is high, especially after they had no admission fee for years, but it is incredible!  I feel like that $18 was good for two days, but I can’t remember, and I couldn’t turn up any mention of it on their website.

I started with the gardens, figuring that I could spend some time outside earlier in the day before it got unbearably hot.  Well, to be honest, it was already unbearably hot, but I am nothing if not dedicated to my touristing.

The gardens were designed for the original owners of the home; and include a sunken formal garden, a ravine garden, an orchard, a fountain, the Grand Allée (vista) and a border garden. When the Lilly family purchased the estate in 1933, the gardens were mature and thankfully the family didn’t change the design of the gardens.  It is incredible to have these historic gardens available to the public!

There is a lot to see, and outdoor art installations also add a touch of whimsy to the gardens.  I have to admit though, the brightly colored, nearly life sized bears, alligators, meerkats, turtles and other animals scattered around added a bit too much whimsy for my taste.  I prefer my art a bit more traditional.  It was fun to wander around and check everything out though!

 

 

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The Last 90 Days

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that it is the last quarter of the decade… The last 90 days as she put it.  Well, technically since October and December both have 31 days, it’s 92, but we won’t quibble (I can’t help it, I’m a Virgo).

It got me thinking, what am I going to do with the last 90 days of this decade?  What are you going to do?  Sadly, for me, it won’t be a trip around the world, but let’s make it count!

Circus Trip 2018: General Lew Wallace Study and Museum

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Crawfordsville, Indiana

Marilyn took me to the Lew Wallace Study and Museum.  I had no idea this was in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Wallace was born in 1827 in Brookville, Indiana, and lived in Crawfordsville at several points during his life, retiring to his family home after a long career in the military and public service.

Lew Wallace was a lawyer and a Civil War Major General (and also one of the youngest Union officers to ever hold the rank).  He played important roles in the battles of Fort Donelson, and Shiloh, and he went against orders to protect Washington, D.C. from the Confederates at the Battle of Monocacy.

At the conclusion of the war, he served as a member of the military tribunal who tried those responsible for assassinating Abraham Lincoln, as well as the tribunal that tried Commander Wirz, the infamous officer who ran the Andersonville Confederate POW camp.

 

After the war tribunals were over, he went down to Mexico to provide supplies to the Juaristas so they could kick the French out of Mexico, and he served as the governor of the New Mexico territory from 1878 to 1881.  During his time in New Mexico, he signed the execution warrant for Billy the Kid (who then escaped again and died after being shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett instead of being executed).

In 1880, he authored Ben-Hur, the epic biblical saga, despite the fact that prior to writing the book, he wasn’t a particularly religious man.  He also wrote several other books, including his own auto-biography.  Marilyn gave me her vintage copy of Ben-Hur, since I have never read it.  I haven’t yet, but plan to!

In 1881 Wallace was appointed by President Garfield as the U.S. minister to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.  In 1882 he and his wife Susan made a pilgrimage to Israel.  Makes you feel like kind of a slouch, right?

 

Those accomplishments made him pretty spectacular already, but in addition to that, he also invented a fishing pole with an internal reel, and he even designed the study we visited.  Yes, you heard right.  Wallace wanted his own study where he could read, design and invent; basically the 19th century man-cave with fewer neon beer signs and flat-screen TVs with football games.

Wallace designed a gorgeous brick building, and had it constructed between 1895 and 1898, at a cost of $30,000 dollars.  It combines several different architectural styles; Byzantine, Romanesque, and Greek.  The outside of the study has a face on each side; each one a character from Ben-Hur.  He filled it with amazing books, art and historical artifacts.

 

I would love to have a study like this!  Our tour was wonderful, and I was so excited that they allow photographs inside!  Our docent had an incredible knowledge of Wallace and his accomplishments, as well as the historical details of the study.  This is truly a labor of love for these folks.

And get this – they had a little library in the shape of the Lew Wallace Study!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Covington Courthouse Murals

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Covington, Fountain County, Indiana

I didn’t make it a habit to check out courthouses or other government buildings on my trip, but the Fountain County courthouse in Covington, Indiana has something special.  It was built between 1936 and 1937 during the Art Deco era, and also the Great Depression.

The walls of the courthouse also ended up being a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project; an attempt by the federal government to create public projects to employ some of the millions of unemployed Americans at the time.  Eugene Savage was a Covington local, and an artist; he was hired to head up the project, a series of murals on the interior walls of the courthouse in 1939.

Savage was a professor for twenty-eight years at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, and during his career, he painted a number of famous murals, including one at Yale University.

The murals depict American life from before the Revolutionary War up through the period when the murals were painted in the 1930s.  They include scenes of joy and tragedy, happiness and sorrow.  There are battles and the aftermath, weddings, the industrial age, farming, and modern day inventions like the automobile.  The artists make their political and social views known through their art.

 

The murals in Covington are beautiful, and interestingly and unheard of at the time, 9 of the 10 artists that were commissioned to complete the murals were women (Savage himself was the only man).  Girl Power!  They were recently restored, and definitely worth the time to check out.  There were many more than I have shown; you can take an online tour of them here.

Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Historic Cemeteries

Day 23 & 24, Tuesday & Wednesday, August 7 & 8, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn knows about a million little roadside cemeteries and we checked out a number of them in those couple of days.  Some were tiny, some were larger, and they were in various states of being cared for.

The earliest graves we could read were from the 1830s.  We just don’t have that on the west coast, and I loved these little community plots.

Robert Highfill died on March 9.  Findagrave.com lists his death year as 1855, but the stone looks to me like it says 1835.  I’m sure the 1855 date is correct, as the census records show him marrying his wife in 1845.  Interestingly, he is buried in Highfill Cemetery, so apparently the cemetery was named after the family.

Here lies Frances Remley Johnson, the wife of Robert Johnson.  She died in October, 1837 at the age of 28.  The location of the grave has probably been lost, and that is why her stone is leaning against the tree.

Charlotte Allen’s husband had an unusual name.  Eliphalet means “God, his deliverance,” in Hebrew.  She died February 18, 1845, at the age of 31.  Her husband Eliphalet lived five more years, dying at the age of 54 in 1850.

William Malone was a Freemason; he had the Masonic compass on his grave.  William was born in 1785, and he died during the Civil War, but his death date is unknown and is unreadable.  If he did indeed die during the Civil War, he had a pretty long life…  He was married twice; his first wife Sarah died in 1851, and is buried nearby.

Tuesday evening we ate leftovers for dinner, went and got ice cream for dessert, and then decided to go find another cemetery in the back of a cornfield.  It seems weird writing that, but the Pisgah Burying Ground is an active cemetery, that is literally tucked in behind a cornfield.  It was getting dark when we visited, which made for some eerie photographs.

We went back to the Pisgah Burying Ground the next day in the daylight, and found a well tended graveyard that had none of the creepiness of the night before; the caretakers were there mowing the grass.

Here lies Sebert Pearman; Sebert is another unusual name, meaning “shining sea.”  He died on January 19, 1853.  He was born on January 16, 1793, which meant that he was 60 when he died.  According to information at Findagrave.com, “he was the son of Randolph Nelson (Randall or Randalf) and Judith Pearman. He was a millwright by trade. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 in the Kentucky Militia. He moved to Vermillion County, Indiana in 1829. He married Sarah Rose Nichols February 15, 1815 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. They were the parents of: Malinda, John, Mary (Francis), Jane Weltha, Benjamin Franklin I, Samuel D., Elizabeth, Sarah Wright, Judah Ann, William II, Elisha, Martha, Sebert Jr., David and James.” He had 12 kids!  Well, perhaps better stated – She had 12 kids!  An urn on a grave is a symbol of the soul, immortality or penitence.

The next morning before I headed on my way, we tried to find another old family burial plot, this one on Marilyn’s land behind a soybean field.  Unfortunately, a few years ago, thieves stole the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the plot.  When we visited, we were unable to find the stones, but found the ground cover that had been planted marking the plot.  It would be sad if someone stole the headstones too.  The plot had been in that thicket of underbrush on the right side of the photo below; not exactly something you would stumble across.

 

Circus Trip 2018: Indiana’s Covered Bridges

Day 23, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vermillion County, Indiana

Marilyn and I got up for a day of Indiana countryside sightseeing.  We decided we were going to check out several covered bridges, as this tri-county area around Dana, Indiana is known for having many of them.  Unfortunately, the very first bridge we went to, at the Ernie Pyle Memorial Rest Park, we came upon a tragic scene.  I won’t revisit it here, because I blogged about it last year.

That day we visited a number of bridges, historic cemeteries, murals and the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.  I’m going to divide the posts up by subject, and group the photos together.

Once we steeled our nerves again from our morning, we saw several more covered bridges.  They are gorgeous, each painted red with white accents, each with the same neat, black lettering indicating the year it was built, along with name of the bridge and sometimes the builder.  The earliest bridge we saw was built in 1873, and the most recent was built in 2006.  I suppose now they are probably maintained by the county, or a historical society, but it still seemed odd that they are all painted the same.

They are scattered all around, with some of the bridges off to the side of the road, and others still part of the road so you could drive through them.  One is close to an old historic mill that has been redeveloped – it is quite picturesque!  I got to see quite a bit of the countryside, the Amish homes, and even a few Amish buggies.

The history here is incredible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiet Friday Nights

It has been raining off and on for a week, including a pretty incredible thunder and lightning storm last Saturday night.  The rain is supposed to continue off and on for several more days.  It will make for a good weekend to do some house organizing, have some quiet time, and go antiquing with my mom.

It has been nice to have a few quieter weekends at home, after a summer spent jet-setting around the country (I exaggerate, but I was in Oregon, Washington, D.C., and California this summer, in addition to some weekend trips around Washington).

My Facebook memories are also making me so nostalgic for my time on the road.  Last year at this time I was in Washington, D.C., although I was a bit behind at the time in posting photos and still working on posting New York state pics.

I have not been able to blog very quickly about my trip, given that I did so much, and want to give each place the attention it deserves.  The trip posts will likely be going on for a couple of years, and I’m making peace with that.  My plan now is to intersperse my more recent short trips with the posts on my longer trip.  That way I can stay caught up on what’s currently happening in my life.  Sound like a plan?

That’s what’s on my agenda – how about yours?