Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

June 8 show

Former Indy Mayor Bill Hudnut

The NFL’s Colts move into town from Baltimore and are greeted by Mayor William Hudnut on March 28, 1984. Courtesy Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis.He served as mayor of Indiana's capital city longer than anyone else in history.

For 16 eventful years - a span of four terms that included unforgettable chapters, many of which have been the focus of previous Hoosier History Live! shows (such as the notorious Listen to show on the blizzard of 1978, Hoosier History Live!Blizzard of '78 and the massive Pan American Games of 1987 - William Hudnut III led Indianapolis and attained national prominence.

Although former Mayor Hudnut and his wife, Beverly Hudnut, primarily have lived in the Washington D.C. area since he left the top Indy office in 1992, he will make a return visit and - for our 250th show - join Nelson in studio to explore what has become known as "the Hudnut era."

He didn't start out as a Hoosier. Born in Cincinnati in 1932, Bill Hudnut grew up in New Lebanon, N.Y., graduated from Princeton University and, like his father and grandfather, became a Presbyterian minister. He moved to Indy in 1963 to serve as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, one of the city's most prestigious congregations.

By the time he left Indy, the city's skyline had been transformed - by, among other structures, the domed stadium that initially was known as the Hoosier Dome when it opened in 1984. Mayor Hudnut, a Republican, championed the sports facility's construction, even though the city did not yet have a National Football League team to play in it. William Hudnut, 2013.The Hoosier Dome was still not quite finished in late March 1984 when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indy on Mayflower Van Lines trucks late at night. The move beat a looming deadline in Maryland, where the team had been squabbling with lawmakers and civic leaders.

The history of what later was named the RCA Dome was the focus of our third Hoosier History Live! Show after our debut in early 2008, shortly before the stadium's demolition. That program followed a show about the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, the worst in city history, during which the lanky, 6-foot-4 mayor rode on snowplows and urged residents to persevere.

An unabashed cheerleader known for his willingness to do just about anything to rally his adopted hometown - including donning a leprechaun outfit on St. Patrick's Day - Bill Hudnut particularly advocated the resurgence of downtown and Indy's unofficial designation as the country's amateur sports capital. During his terms as mayor (1976-92), he also served as president of the National League of Cities.

Nelson plans to ask the former mayor to identify his greatest accomplishments as well as his biggest disappointments. A recent article in the Indianapolis Star about the 25th anniversary of the concert venue initially known as Deer Creek Music Center (now Klipsch Music Center) indicated then-Mayor Hudnut unsuccessfully pushed for it to be built in what became White River State Park rather than its eventual site in Hamilton County.

"What would you do if you were called to lead a city known as Naptown, India-No-Place or Brickyard in a Cornfield?" Bill Hudnut asks in his book The Hudnut Years (IU Press, 1995). His other books include Minister Mayor (Westminster Press, 1987).

Mayor William Hudnut is pictured on the front page of The Indianapolis News of March 2, 1989, with a story on demolition beginning for construction of the Circle Centre Mall. Image courtesy Joe Young.Citing Hudnut's initiatives with downtown rejuvenation and the city's track record as a sports capital, current Mayor Greg Ballard in January renamed a downtown park Hudnut Commons. Formerly known as Capitol Commons, the park is at Maryland Street and Capitol Avenue, across the street from the Indiana Convention Center.

Before his record-breaking mayoral terms, Bill Hudnut served as a U.S. congressman from Indianapolis. In 1972, he defeated his friend, incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. - who, in turn, came back and defeated Hudnut two years later.

During the mid-1970s, in between his stints in public office, Bill Hudnut was on the faculty at the University of Indianapolis (then Indiana Central University), where he taught political science.

As mayor, he oversaw highly touted partnerships between the public and private sectors. In 1990, the Indianapolis News estimated that with "gifts from the Lilly Endowment, millions of dollars in tax abatements and other incentives, and investments from private developers, more than $4 billion worth of construction took place downtown. ... Public and private city leaders placed an unprecedented emphasis on downtown development."

Listeners are invited to call in at (317) 788-3314 to ask questions or share insights with the man whose career was so intertwined with Indy history during the last part of the 20th century.

Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut often dressed as a leprechaun during St. Patrick's Day parades. Courtesy Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis.


Roadtrip: Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

Guest Roadtripper Christopher Della Rocco will call in on Saturday to tell us about current activities at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, located in the charming 1836 canal village of Metamora, Ind., which is southeast of Indianapolis in the Whitewater Valley in Franklin County.

The site offers a new Whitewater Canal Experience package that allows visitors to experience the best of the site at a discounted rate. And coming up June 29 is a special event called Twilight Time, which features an island-themed catered dinner in Grist Mill Park and twilight cruise on the Ben Franklin III canal boat. Slow and relaxing are the characteristics of this boat ride!

The Whitewater Canal State Historic Site is open for tours of the grist mill and canal boat rides Wednesdays through Sundays. Canal rides are at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. - dependent on canal conditions - the same days. More information can be found online or at (765) 647-6512. Enjoy your summer!

An aqueduct carries the Whitewater Canal over Duck Creek in Metamora, Ind. Image courtesy Christopher Della Rocco

History Mystery

One of the best-known men in America from the 1860s through the 1880s had, earlier in his career, served as the minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. A clergyman, abolitionist, social reformer and speaker, he was not a Hoosier by birth or upbringing.

Second Presbyterian’s first church was on the northwest quadrant of Governor’s Circle (now Monument Circle) from 1840 to 1867. Its second home was at Vermont and Pennsylvania streets, near the World War Memorial. Today, the church is located at 7700 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis. Image courtesy Second Presbyterian Church.However, he moved to Indianapolis in 1839 and, while preaching at Second Presbyterian Church, held his first revival meetings and, according to historians, solidified his anti-slavery stance. As a result of his dynamic preaching, he built Second Presbyterian into the largest congregation in the Hoosier capital.

Before coming to Indianapolis, he had been the pastor at a Presbyterian church in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for two years.

The clergyman left Indiana in 1847 and rose to national prominence on the East Coast.

Question: Who was he?

Hint: His sister wrote one of the country's best-selling novels during the 1850s.

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.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
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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Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Aesop's Tables | Indiana Historical Society | Indiana Landmarks | Lucas Oil | Second Presbyterian Church | Story Inn.

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, 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. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

June 15 show

Indy Mayor Greg Ballard on Marines history and 'old' Cathedral High

An Indianapolis native, he grew up on the Eastside, attended the "old" Cathedral High School (when it was located downtown and had all male students) and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard meets with veterans at a Statehouse rally in 2012. Image courtesy city of Indianapolis.So there's much local history turf to cover with Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, 58, who was elected to his second term in 2011. As Hoosier History Live! segues from a former mayor of Indy (Bill Hudnut, the June 8 show guest) to his current counterpart, Mayor Ballard will be Nelson's studio guest for a show that explores history topics that have been intertwined with his life.

They will include the links between the Hoosier state and the Marines. After a 23-year military career, Mayor Ballard, a Republican, retired as a lieutenant colonel  from the Marines in 2001 and returned to his home town to enter private business.

He plans to share insights about who and what influenced him during his youth to join the Marines. The decision eventually led to assignments in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War; and Stuttgart, Germany, as well as in Michigan and North Carolina.

Back in the mayor's hometown, we will focus on Cathedral High School, where he was a member of the Class of '72.

Since its founding in 1918, the Catholic high school had been located at 14th and Meridian streets and attended only by boys. The future mayor's years there were preceded and followed by major changes. In 1976, four years after he graduated, Cathedral merged with Ladywood, an all-girls Catholic academy located on the northeast-side, a decision that was presented as a financial necessity for both schools. (The merged, co-ed school, which took the Cathedral name, is on the former Ladywood site on East 56th Street.)

Previously, while the future mayor was attending Cathedral, Ladywood had merged in 1971 with Cathedral's "sister" school downtown, St. Agnes Academy. Located just to the south of the "old" Cathedral, the former academy now is the site of St. Agnes Apartments.

Greg Ballard, who grew up on the Eastside in a family of five children, attended Cathedral on a scholarship. After graduation, he enrolled at Indiana University and studied economics, but he never ran for elective office. His defeat of incumbent Bart Peterson in the 2007 mayoral election has been called one of the biggest upsets in Indy's political history.

During the show, Mayor Ballard plans to share insights about other Hoosiers who have served in the Marines, in addition to sharing his own experiences.

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