Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
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Aug. 25 show

Carmel city history

Maybe not every Hoosier is aware that, 175 years ago, Bethlehem was the initial name of the village in Hamilton County that became Carmel. Or that Range Line Road apparently once led clear south to Monument Circle in downtown Indy.

Looking west on Main Street in downtown Carmel after the 1913 fire, circa 1920s. Range Line Road crosses in front of the white general merchandise store on the left. Courtesy Carmel Clay Historical Society.Is any Hoosier, though, unaware of the explosive growth that has occurred in Carmel, which barely had 500 residents in 1900? Just this week, Carmel landed the No. 1 spot on the "100 Best Places to Live" published by Money Magazine.

To explore the history of the city that (according to 2010 U.S. Census info shared by a demographer on Hoosier History Live! awhile back) now has 79,191 people, Nelson will be joined in studio by three guests with some deep perspectives on the bustling city.

They are historian Katherine Dill, executive director of the Carmel Clay Historical Society, and lifelong Carmel residents Nancy Childs and Karla Katterhenry, whose ancestors once owned a business in the Old Town area of the city. Today, the Old Town area anchors the Carmel Arts & Design District, which includes galleries, boutiques and other shops.

They will share insights about the community that formed in 1837 as Bethlehem. (The name change occurred because it turned out a town of Bethlehem already was under way in far-southern Indiana.) Many early settlers were Quakers who had migrated to the area from North Carolina. They included the ancestors of our guest Nancy Childs, who attends Carmel Friends Church, 651 W. Main St., which evolved from the early Quakers in Carmel.

The Carmel Public Library, early 1900s.The town got its first boost in the 1880s when the Monon Railroad opened a Carmel depot. Next to the Monon in the early 1900s was Brunson's Sawmill and Lumberyard, which was owned by the great-grandparents of Karla Katterhenry, our guest. Her grandfather became manager of the lumberyard.

Today, the Monon Trail, the reclaimed railroad right-of-way, is a popular urban greenway that runs from 146th Street nearly to downtown Indy. In Carmel, the $55 million Monon Community Center, a family recreational facility with a lavish water park, opened in 2007.

Carmel High School is the state's largest, with 4,600 students enrolled. Its girls swimming team holds an ongoing national record. Beginning in 1986, the team has won 26 straight state championships, more than any other girls team in any sport across the country. Carmel High also repeatedly has won state championships in other sports, including football, boys swimming and tennis.

Our guests Karla and Nancy have been involved with the Carmel Clay School District in several ways. In addition to being Carmel High alum (both are members of the Class of '61), Nancy taught at Clay Middle School (then a junior high) during the 1970s. Karla was an instructional assistant for 28 years, retiring last May from Carmel Elementary School.

The Carmel Grain Elevator in the process of being torn down, May 2012. This monolith stood along the Monon Railroad (now Monon Trail) in downtown Carmel and once served area farmers. Hoosier History Live photo.As a teenager, Karla worked at Brown's Pharmacy, a bustling hang-out for the after-school crowd that longtime Camel residents will recall with fondness. The drug store was located at 20 N. Range Line Road.

Also on Range Line Road - at its intersection with Main Street, to be precise - one of the country's first automatic traffic lights was installed in the early 1920s. The stoplight was created by Carmel inventor Leslie Haines.

The historic stoplight is exhibited at the Monon Depot Museum operated by the Carmel Clay Historical Society. Our guest Katherine Dill, its director, has lived in Carmel for eight years and previously worked for the Indiana Historical Society.

Some fun facts:

  • Carmel has been called the "roundabout capital of the nation" because of the development of so many of the circular intersections on local streets.
  • In 1913, downtown Carmel was devastated by a fire. Ironically, 1913 also was the year of the greatest flood in Indiana's history; torrential rainfall caused massive flooding across the state, including in Carmel.
  • The Money Magazine list of "100 Best Places to Live" showcases small cities with populations of 50.000 to 300,000. Among other factors, Carmel was hailed for its schools, art and design district, and bicycle paths. Its neighbor in Hamilton County, the city of Fishers - which, like Carmel, has more than doubled in population since 2000 - was ranked No. 12 on the list.

History Mystery

In Carmel, a family of exceptional tennis players was known as "Indiana's first family of tennis" from the late 1970s through the 1990s. One of the eldest brothers among eight siblings in the family achieved perhaps the greatest success on the professional circuit of any tennis player in Indiana history.

As a Carmel High School student, he won the state championship in tennis. In college, he was a three-time All-American. As a touring pro, he competed against many of the sport's biggest names, reaping international attention at the U.S. Open in 1986 with an upset victory over superstar Jimmy Connors.

He eventually became director of the Indianapolis Tennis Center. Sadly, he was just 34 years old when he died of brain cancer in 1998.

Question: Who was the famous tennis player from Carmel?

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

This week's prize is a pair of tickets to a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie, and an overnight stay at University Place Hotel on the IUPUI campus, courtesy of Visit Indy (formerly ICVA).

Roadtrip: Indiana African American Heritage Trail

Chris Gahl of Visit Indy (formerly the Indianapolis Visitors and Convention Association) recommends that we check out the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, which starts at The Depot in Jeffersonville, Ind.

Maxine Brown, founder of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, stands in front of The Depot in Jeffersonville, Ind.The Depot is a former segregated restroom that was, interestingly, divided for white males, white females, black males and black females. It is located at 600 Quartermaster Station in Jeffersonville, Clark County, and there one can pick up brochures and self-guided tour information for such sites as nearby Taylor High School in Jeffersonville, Leora Brown School in Corydon, or the farther-away Lyles Station in Gibson County, an early African-American settlement.

If you'd like to learn more about Indiana African-American history, be sure to sign up for the Progressive Journey Conference to be held in Jeffersonville on October 10-12.

One of the highlights of the conference will be a lunch at Cedar Farm, also known as the Kintner-Withers House, an antebellum home overlooking the Ohio River in Laconia, Ind. It was purchased in 1985 by the William and Gayle Cook family of Bloomington, Ind,, and is generally not open to the public. The house is painted light yellow with white trim and green shutters, based on an 1898 painting by Indianapolis artist William Forsyth.

Mrs. Cook will be greeting her guests for the luncheon, which will be followed by a re-enactment of an 1814 Indiana court case in which a woman of color successfully sued the white man to whom she had been indentured on grounds of assault, trespass and false imprisonment. Following the re-enactment, a group discussion about the 1814 case will be led by Judge Maria Granger, judge of Floyd County Superior Court 3.

More information about the Progressive Journey Conference is available here, and you also can register for just specific days or events, rather than the whole conference. You also can receive more information by calling Heritage Trail founder Maxine Brown at (502) 550-0484.

Noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays

Hoosier History Live! will expand to one hour

The nation's only live with call-in talk radio show about history, Hoosier History Live! with Nelson Price, will expand to a one-hour format beginning Sept. 8 in a new weekly time slot, noon to 1 p.m.

The show will continue to be heard over the air at WICR 88.7 FM in the central Indiana area, or online anywhere at www.hoosierhistorylive.org.

For those of you who contacted WICR by phone or email to request a longer show, please consider contacting the station again with a "thank you." It's the Hoosier way!

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo and Research Services, Conner Prairie, Derrick Lowhorn 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 Indiana Humanities. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

Sept. 1 show

Architecture around Indy with Jonathan Hess

At least as much as anyone during the last 25 years, Jonathan Hess has left his fingerprints on landmark Indianapolis buildings. And he's about to do it again by designing the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Artist rendering of the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo.Jonathan first made headlines in the 1980s when, as a young architect, he was selected by octogenarian Hoosier industrialist Harrison Eiteljorg to design the $14 million museum that would exhibit his vast art collection. Years later, Jonathan oversaw the renovation of his own work with the expansion of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 2005. Also that year, he designed the expansion of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

So Jonathan, president of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, will be our in-studio guide as he shares architectural insights about Indy landmarks, both those he did not design and those he did.

The latter include the towering Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the current Herron School of Art, which opened in 2005 in a building that once housed the law school on the IUPUI campus; the Conrad Hotel; an addition to the Children's Museum and the midfield terminal at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Is it any wonder The Indianapolis Star once referred to Jonathan Hess as "the rock star" of Indy architects?

Herron School of Art and Design, on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis, was designed by architect Jonathan Hess."Kids have this innate desire to make things," Jonathan, who dreamed of an architectural career as boy, once told Nelson, our host.

Nelson has interviewed Jonathan several times over the years in connection with the blockbuster debuts of his various projects. The list includes a renovation at St. Luke's United Methodist Church (the state's largest Methodist congregation) and Lilly Hall at Butler University.

Even though he's primarily known for his extensive work in Indy, Jonathan also has had an impact elsewhere in Hoosierland. He was the architect for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, for example.

Indy, by the way, is his adopted hometown. Jonathan grew up in Normal, Ill., and studied architecture at the University of Illinois. In reference to that, here's another quote from an interview with Nelson more than 20 years ago:

"Most of my college friends in architecture went to Chicago or other large markets. When I told them I was coming here, they said, 'Indianapolis? Architecture? Good luck.'"

Now that Jonathan has had such a major impact on Indy - and is about to design the atrium that will be the epicenter of the world's largest center for orangutans, the endangered ape species - it's an ideal time to ask the architect to share his insights.

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