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!

Aug. 17 show

Christ Church Cathedral, Zion and Second Pres in Indy

This 1932 photograph shows the First Baptist Church (foreground left) and Second Presbyterian Church (foreground right) just south of the Indiana War Memorial on Vermont Street in Indianapolis. Both church buildings were demolished in 1960. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.

Three historic congregations in the Hoosier capital - each with a heritage of more than 150 years and each celebrating a significant milestone - will be the focus of our show.

Located on a high-visibility site on Monument Circle, Christ Church Cathedral was built in the 1850s; the Gothic Revival building is considered the oldest religious structure in the city. This wood carving of the Last Supper was dedicated in 1930 at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ in Indianapolis. Photo by Hoosier History Live.The Episcopalian congregation, though, dates back even further, to the 1830s, and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary.

Sometimes called "the Little Church on the Circle," Christ Church remained at the heart of downtown even as neighboring churches moved or closed. Christ Church is known for its support of the arts, annual Strawberry Festival and renowned choirs, which sang at the Indiana State Capitol when Abraham Lincoln lay in state during a stop on his funeral procession to Illinois.

Rev. Stephen Carlsen, dean and rector at Christ Church Cathedral, will join Nelson in studio. So will Rev. Jonathan Basile, senior pastor at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, which has a deep German heritage in Indy.

Christ Church Cathedral interior. Photo by Hoosier History Live.Founded in 1841 by German immigrants and considered to be the city's second-oldest Protestant congregation, Zion is celebrating 100 years at its current building on the corner of New Jersey and North streets. The church's neo-Gothic style building includes a sanctuary with wood sculptures of the disciples (a rendering of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper") by a German woodcarver. The sanctuary also boasts a 1940 Kimball pipe organ with 3,022 pipes.

One of Indy's largest congregations also is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Second Presbyterian Church, which has been known for decades for the "movers and shakers" in its pews, was founded in 1838.

Initially located on Monument Circle, followed by a building near the Indiana War Memorial, Second Pres has been at its current site at 7700 N. Meridian St. since the late 1950s. Rev. Stephen Carlsen.Since then, several wings and other additions have been added to the massive structure, most recently a music and fine arts department addition, youth area and social activities room called McFarland Hall. The church's historian and archivist, Fred Kortepeter, will join Nelson and the other guests in studio.

Jonathan Basile.According to a history Fred has put together, the minister at Second Pres in the 1860s galvanized civic leaders to start the Indianapolis Public Library. The crusade began when the minister proclaimed during a Thanksgiving Day sermon that the lack of a public library was "a deficiency that is really fatal to the city's character."

Christ Church Cathedral also has been actively involved in civic affairs. Congregation members helped start public schools in the city during the 1800s and, more recently, have been involved with the Julian Center, the Damien Center and Second Helpings. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the cathedral was the setting for a citywide memorial service.

Some history nuggets:

  • Bill Hudnut moved to Indy in 1963 to become senior minister at Second Presbyterian, then served a record-setting four terms as Indy's mayor. When former Mayor Hudnut was a guest on our show in June, the History Mystery focused on his well-known predecessor from the 19th century. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher served as the Second Pres pastor beginning in 1839, then moved to New York City and became one of the most famous spiritual and civic leaders in the country.
  • Fred Kortepeter.The caller who answered that History Mystery was current civic leader Henry Ryder, a member of Second Pres and retired lawyer who is a well-known re-enactor for his performances as Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley.
  • At Christ Church Cathedral, the acclaimed Choir of Men and Boys, founded in 1883, has toured Europe, performing at Westminster Abbey in London and Notre Dame in Paris; the Cathedral Girls' Choir also has appeared overseas and performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
  • Although there's no longer a regular German-language service on Sundays at Zion, services in German continue to be offered during Lent and Advent.
  • Irish immigrants in the 1830s are credited with founding St. John's Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic parish in Indy. The heritage of the church at 126 W. Georgia St. was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show in October 2010.
  • The architectural firm that designed St. John's, which is located near Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, also had a connection to Zion. D.A. Bohlen & Son designed Zion's current building, which opened in 1913. In addition to the wood carving of the disciples, the sanctuary features 100-year-old stained glass windows.
  • Regular worshipers at Christ Church included the late business leader and philanthropist Eli Lilly (1885-1977), who squashed attempts by banks and others to purchase the cathedral's site on Monument Circle.
  • Not only is Christ Church the oldest religious structure in Indy, it's the oldest building on Monument Circle. The cathedral is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Learn more:  Zion's stained glass window renovation by Conrad Schmidt Associates.

History Mystery

Among several Methodist congregations that founded churches in downtown Indianapolis during the 1800s, one has a special distinction in the city's public-safety history. This downtown Indy church was built in the 1870s. Hoosier History Live photo.The Methodist congregation initially met in a chapel on the corner of Pennsylvania and Market streets in the 1840s and '50s. The chapel had a tower with a bell that called the congregation to worship; because the city had no fire bell then, the congregation allowed firefighters and other residents to ring the bell if a fire erupted in Indianapolis.

During the 1870s, a new church elsewhere downtown was built for the Methodist congregation, which continues to worship in the building today. Like Christ Church Cathedral, the church building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Question: What is the Methodist church?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. The prize is admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Dick's Last Resort in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park

Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests we attend a daylong program coming up at McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer, Ind., to explore the legacy of the Civilian Conversation Corps.

The gatehouse at McCormick's Creek State Park in Indiana was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.The CCC was  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's  New Deal Depression-era employment program that put men to work creating charming structures in Indiana's parks - lodges, picnic shelters, bridges - using locally available materials.

Says Suzanne: "It was a sustainable design program ahead of its time!"

McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana's first state park, offers several examples of CCC. From 1933 to 1935, Company 589 of the CCC constructed shelter houses, a gatehouse and magnificent stone-arch bridge still visible today.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, Indiana Landmarks is offering a daylong Landmarks Experience exploring the CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park, with tours and lectures by historians, landscape architects and naturalists. You can register online for Landmarks Experience.

This event is co-sponsored by Indiana Landmarks, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Owen County Preservations.

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


Second Presbyterian Church 175 years.Aesop's Tables.

Lucas OilStory Inn

Indiana Historical Society logo.The Stutz.

Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Aesop's Tables | Indiana Historical Society | Lucas Oil | Second Presbyterian Church | Story Inn, The Stutz

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.

Underwriting the project

Hoosier History Live welcomes new contributors Turner Woodard, Danny and Sofia Lopez, Gary BraVard in memory of Sunny Brewer, and James and Elizabeth Worley of Columbus, Ind.

Antique radio microphone.For questions about becoming a contributor, or underwriting sponsor (the underwriter level includes logos on our website and enewsletter and spoken credits in the live show), you also may now contact Gary BraVard, marketing director, at gary@hoosierhistorylive.org, or (317) 902-7900, as well as Producer Molly Head at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, (317) 927-9101.

We certainly need financial support to continue our excellent work; you can help to defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software, our editing costs, etc. It's also easy just to click on the yellow "Donate" button on our website. Simply put, if you like us, support us!

If you wish your contribution to be tax-deductible, visit the "Support us" page on our website.

Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.

By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream on Saturdays. We do have listeners all over the country. If you need any advice on how to get started, please contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business, and it is a relatively low-cost programming idea.

Aug. 24 show

'Ask Nelson' and special-events-in-Indy insights

A couple of times every year at Hoosier History Live!, we like to take full advantage of the fact that we are a live, call-in show - indeed, the only radio show about history in the entire country that offers listener call-in. That means we're able, periodically, to turn the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."

Gary BraVard appears with singer/actress Carol Channing at an event in the mid-1980s. Channing performed a one-woman show at the Civic Theatre, then at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The staging of the performance was "reverse," with Channing positioned on a platform in what was the audience area, and the audience seated on the stage itself. Image provided by Gary BraVard.Along with our invitation to listeners to call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and pose questions to Nelson, we will offer a bonus. In addition to questioning Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary notables) and Indianapolis city history, listeners will be able to ask questions of a special guest co-host.

Nelson will be joined in studio by special-events impresario Gary BraVard, who has planned scores of the most glittering soirees in Indy for more than 25 years. From private parties to weddings, bar mitzvahs and black-tie fund-raisers featuring visiting celebrities, Gary has been the planner of a staggering array of events in the Hoosier capital.

So listeners are invited to call in and ask questions to Gary, whose credits include events attended by Liza Minnelli, Carol Channing and the late Ted Kennedy, as well as to Nelson, whose books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.

In between phone calls from listeners, Nelson and Gary will ask each other questions.

Indiana Legends, by Nelson Price, book cover.By the way, Gary is no stranger to WICR - or to questions from Nelson. For several years, Gary was the co-host of our "sister" radio show on WICR-FM, Too Many Cooks!, which featured chefs, restaurant owners, dietitians, cookbook authors and foodies as studio guests.

Recently, Gary has been featured on-air as one of the rotating Roadtripper correspondents on Hoosier History Live! Did you catch his report last month about Crown Hill Cemetery, the third-largest private burial ground in the nation? Crown Hill also is one of about 70 sites depicted in Indianapolis Then and Now, which involved a collaboration among Nelson, photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services and photographer Garry Chilluffo.

Other sites in the book - which may provide fodder for listener questions - include Conseco Fieldhouse (do you know what was on the site 100 years ago of today's arena for the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever?), Broad Ripple, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Union Station, Lockerbie, Garfield Park and Massachusetts Avenue.

For his books about famous Hoosiers, Nelson interviewed notables such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Reggie Miller, violinist Joshua Bell, artist Nancy Noel and former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Nelson researched the lives of Little Turtle, Madam Walker, Carole Lombard and popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, who was the focus of a recent Hoosier History Live! show.

Fun fact: When Nelson was a feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis Star and its bygone sister newspaper, The Indianapolis News, he interviewed Gary BraVard. Twice, in fact.

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Hoosier History Live!
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1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227
(317) 927-9101