Vanderburgh County Historical Society’s Annual Meeting

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USI History Professor to Speak about Girls in WW II Era at Vanderburgh County Historical Society’s Annual Meeting

On Thursday, November 12, University of Southern Indiana Assistant Professor of History Stella Ress will present the program Close to Home: Preadolescent Girls, Radio, and World War II. This talk, presented at Willard Library, will look at children’s radio programs of WW II and their impact on girls of the era.

On October 13, 1940, the airwaves around the world filled with the voices of the young princesses of Great Britain, Elizabeth, age fourteen, and Margaret Rose, age ten. Their broadcast was meant to raise the morale of those suffering hardship as result of war. Reassuringly and with a clearand confident voice, Princess Elizabeth reported, “We children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen.” She continued solemnly, “We are trying, too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war.” Though her radio address was directed expressly to Britain’s child evacuees who took up residence outside the reach of German bombs, her messages, both stated and implied, resonated with many Americans. Thus, radio is perhaps the best medium to explore young girls’ experiences during the war, as well as their unique contributions to victory. This presentation will examine children’s radio programs of the era to better understand the experiences of girls (between the stages of preschooler and preteen) on the American Home Front, in general, while paying close attention to Vanderburgh County.

Stella A. Ress teaches U.S. history, Public History, and other topics at USI. She received her doctorate from Loyola University Chicago and has worked on a variety of public history projects, including successfully placing the Sauganash neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on the National Register of Historic Places. She has also crafted institutional histories for a variety of nonprofits, conducted oral histories for Chicago’s Erie Neighborhood House, and worked as both a consultant and curatorial assistant for the National Hellenic Museum. She has published and presented in the fields of public history, women’s and gender history, the history of children and youth, popular culture, and girlhood studies.

VCHS Annual Meeting and Dinner

5:30-6:00 Business Meeting

6:00-6:30 Cash Bar

6:30-7:30 Catered Dinner by Acropolis, $30 per person

7:30 Address by Stella Ress

$30 each for Dinner Reservations

Please visit: vchshistory.org or send checks to VCHS, P.O. Box 2626, Evansville, IN 47728-0626 by Monday, November 9.

For Lecture Reservations, for those not attending dinner, please registrar at: http://www.willard.lib.in.us/calendar_of_events/event_details.php?eventID=1267

Evansville Historic Preservation Month Activities May-June 2015

Evansville HISTORIC PRESERVATION Month 

Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development, Preservation Alliance of Evansville, and the Reitz Home Museum present a full slate of lectures, tours, activities, and events.  


Preservation Keynote Address and

Display of Original William Wesley Peters Architectural Drawings

William Wesley Peters: The Evansville Years

William B. Scott, Jr., Hon. AIA

Thursday, June 11, 7:00p.m. University of Evansville; Schroeder School of Business Room 170/Smythe Lecture Hall

      This year’s Amy W. MacDonell-Randall T. Shepard Historic Preservation Lecture features respected architectural historian William B. Scott’s presentation on William Wesley Peters’ years as an architect in Evansville—1934-1936.

     Scott’s presentation introduces hundreds of pages of Peters’ groundbreaking work that sat unappreciated in the Frank Lloyd Wright archives—drawings for the Peters-Margedant House, the Jerome Salm house, the John Price House, Interstate Finance spec house, and renderings for renovating the Evansville PRESS.  The drawings reveal Evansville’s Peters to be a pioneer of Modern Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian concept.

     While in Evansville Peters married Frank Lloyd Wright’s daughter.  In 1936 he rejoined Wright and became Wright’s primary assistant—becoming the engineer behind Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, Falling Waters, Johnson Wax, and more. Peters briefly put Evansville at the cutting edge of Modern Architecture and honed his skills as the leader of Wright’s Taliesin Fellows.

     On public display for the first time this evening will be key pieces of Peters’ Evansville work.

     Mr. Scott is a founder and editor of the JOA & D:  Journal of Organic Architecture and Design a professional publication devoted to the history, development, and current influence of Wright’s Organic Architecture concepts.  He is the Secretary of the Taliesin Fellows.


North End of North Main Street

     Thursday, May 14, 5:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Walking tour starts from Bosse Field parking lot.  This new tour covers Garvin Park and Evansville’s old industrial and commercial center.  Evansville’s industrial history in the 20th century had its roots here. Guides: Joseph Engler and Jennifer Mason


 Landmark Look: Peters-Margedant House

     Saturday, May 16, 10:00a.m.-Noon. 1506 E. Indiana St. The Peters-Margedant House is key to the development of Modern architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright story. A prototype of Wright’s Usonian style, it was designed by William Wesley Peters, Wright’s unsung protégé.  See it in its original setting before it is moved to the University of Evansville and restored. Reservations: petershouselook.eventbrite.com Park: Garvinwood Baptist Church, Inglewood at E. Division St.


Midcentury Modern Architecture: Evansville’s Residential Neighborhoods

     Tuesday, May 19, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m. Tour starts at Hebron School, 4400 Bellemeade Ave.  In the 1950s and 60s a new styles of architecture took root.  The Hebron Meadows plats here has some cutting-edge local architect’s interpretations of Modern, contractor’s copies, and early variations on the Ranch style.  Guide: S. Alan Higgins


 Washington Terrace-S. Alvord Blvd. Tour

     Thursday, May 21, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Walking tour of this early 20th century development begins at 761 Alvord Boulevard.  When platted in 1909, Washington Terrace was on Evansville’s far-east side.  This beautiful boulevard features quaint Bungalows, Colonial Revivals, and English Cottages.  Guide:  Dennis M. Au


Saving Evansville: Owen Block, McCurdy Hotel, and Greyhound Bus Station

     Saturday, May, 30, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Starts at Owen Block building, Chestnut at S.E. Second Streets.  With Indiana Landmark’s help, these downtown architectural gems are being saved. Get an update on efforts to renovate them.  Tour also covers other buildings in these sections of the Riverside and Downtown historic districts.  Tour Guide: Dennis M. Au


Oak Hill Cemetery

     Sunday, May 31, 2:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Tour departs from the veteran’s memorial to the right of the main entrance. Walk features the 19th century section of the cemetery. Nowhere else but in Evansville’s ‘city of the dead’ does history come alive as it does here–tombstone art, biography, history, and folklore. The African-American section, a sadly forgotten history, will be featured.  Guides: Jane Davies and Dennis M. Au


South End of North Main Street

     Thursday, June 18, 6:30p.m.-8:00p.m.  Tour begins at the Zesto at 102 W. Franklin St.  Jacobsville, N. Main Street’s neighborhood association has been working to improve and promote their area. Historically this was truly an extension of Main Street.  It had unique shops, businesses, and even manufacturing facilities – with some fine residences.  Learn the history, see the architecture, and be a part of the revitalization.  Guides:  Joseph Engler and Jennifer Mason


Special Activities and Presentations

Building the Past: A Survey of Evansville’s Early Architecture

    Wednesday, May 13, Noon-1:30p.m. Browning Gallery, Willard Library.  Willard Archivist Pat Sides presents historic images of Evansville’s early buildings, many which are now gone.  Images are newly scanned and have not be generally seen by the public.


Reitz Home Free Admission Day

   Sunday, May 17, 1:00p.m.-3:00p.m. Evansville’s Victorian jewel, the Reitz Home, 224 S.E. 1st St., offers free admission in observance of Preservation Month.


 100 Years of Vintage Clothing

  Wednesday, May 20, 7:00p.m.-8:30p.m. Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. First St.  Jennifer Greene, USI Archivist, gives a ‘tour’ of one family’s clothing collection that speaks to the fashions and handwork, from 1870 to 1970.  Talk features splendid dresses, skirts, and aprons.


Reitz Home Nooks and Crannies Tour

    Saturday, May 23, Beginning at 1:00p.m. Reitz Home, 224 S.E. First St. Limited space tour of places not seen on regular tours – the cellar, family safe closet, 3rd floor servant’s quarters. $7.50 admission. Reservations: 812 426-1871. Guide: Matthew Rowe


Re-lighting the Historic Greyhound

Neon Sign and Ice-cream Social

    Wednesday, June 10, 8:00p.m.-9:00p.m.  Greyhound Station, N.W.3rd and Sycamore Streets.  Greyhound Station exterior renovation is drawing to a close. See the neon on the blade sign come back to life! Celebrate this victory, see the dogs on the sign run again!  Host: Indiana Landmarks


 History of Evansville’s Parks

   Tuesday, June 16, 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m. Browning Gallery, Willard Library.  Learn about Evansville’s earliest parks. Topics include Mayor Bosse’s transforming of our parks a century ago.  Presenter: Pat Sides, Willard Library Archivist


Evansville’s Biggest Booster:

The Life of Mayor Bosse

     Tuesday, June 23, 7:00p.m.-8:30p.m. Reitz Home Carriage House, 224 S.E. 1st St. Based on his new book, Mayor Bosse’s great, great nephew, Jeff Bosse, presents the city’s most dynamic and influential mayor. Bosse’s term—1914 to 1922— was an unmatched era of economic and civic expansion. Reception follows.

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Indiana’s Historic Treasures Threatened

Vast troves of Indiana’s historic records are threatened under a proposed state budget cut. The Vanderburgh County Historic Society (VCHS) previously reported on Indiana House Bill 1001 (the state budget bill) and penned a letter from the VCHS board raising significant concerns. Click here to read that letter. Now more details have emerged that bring the threats into frightening focus.

Gov. Pence’s budget, reflected in H.B. 1001, proposes to eliminate the state genealogical department. This document, found on the website of the Indiana Library Federation, contains a breakdown of the proposed annual reductions in funding to the State Library programs. Page 4 describes the current Indiana genealogy department, whose entire annual budget of $400,000 would be eliminated by the cuts.

In addition to gutting the genealogy staff, the proposed budget would potentially also allow for the transfer of vast troves of the Indiana State Library resources to a private non-profit entity. The Indiana State Library is home to one of the largest genealogy collections in the Midwest. This collection (over 100,000 items) is focused on Indiana, states from which Indiana was settled, as well as some foreign countries. The collection is rich with unique family histories and genealogy materials that cannot be found in other locations. These invaluable Indiana history resources collected over the years for the use of the citizens of Indiana, and not available elsewhere.

There are grave concerns over the potential transfer of these resources and the proposed cuts in staffing to the Indiana State Library’s genealogy department. There have been no public hearings on this issue and little publicity about the proposed major changes to these resources.

Two local legislators sit on the House Ways and Means Committee. Please contact them as soon as possible to voice your opposition to the proposed budget cuts.

Rep. Holli Sullivan: holliasullivan@gmail.com
Rep. Gail Riecken: Griecken77@aol.com

Red Cross Seeks Conservation Help

The Red Cross Evansville-Wabash Valley Regional Office is very fortunate to have 17 original Karl K. Knecht ink sketches on display. Knecht went to work as the cartoonist at the Evansville Courier where his first cartoon appeared in September 1906. In addition to drawing cartoons for the paper, Knecht became staff photographer in 1917 when the newspaper bought its first camera and also wrote columns and reviews. His “Say, Kay! What of Folks, Shows, Animals N’ Such” column appeared weekly from 1919 until 1954. Knecht was named director of the paper and served as vice president from 1952 to 1960. For most of Knecht’s career, his cartoons appeared seven days a week on the front page until 1954 when they were moved to the editorial page. Knecht worked for the Courier for so long that he came to be known as the “dean of editorial cartoonists”.

Knecht was also involved with the circus. He helped organize the Circus Fans Association in 1925 and was both secretary-treasurer and president of that organization and produced its magazine, White Tops. He also helped found the Mesker Zoo in Evansville after he was given a pair of lions in the late 1920s.

Knecht was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. In 1953, Knecht received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Evansville College and July 22, 1954 was proclaimed Karl Kae Knecht Day in Evansville, Indiana. He was also a supporter of numerous charitable causes and would at times use his cartoons to bring attention to these causes, with one them being the American Red Cross. His cartoons are in collections of presidential libraries for Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. He also has a very large display at the University of Evansville.

Recently, the Red Cross had two volunteers help repair a number of pictures frames. Through those efforts the Red Cross learned that the Knecht Collection did not have any conservation framing, which was resulting in the pieces deteriorating. The Red Cross is interested in finding an organization or individual who could sponsor its efforts to preserve his work. A local frame shop has offered a discounted rate to do the work, which would include new rag single mats, conservation clear glass, rag backing, dissembling them, fitting and leveling hangers.

You are invited to assist the Red Cross in its effort to preserve an important part of the history of the Evansville community. The quote with discount was $1,566.32. The Red Cross is hoping to secure funding for $1,700 so that it can create a small plaque that explains Karl K. Knetch’s relationship and passion for the American Red Cross and the Evansville community that could be put on display with his collection.

Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable

roundtableThe Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable will meet this Thursday, May 15th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge at 801 Court Street in downtown Evansville. The meeting with feature a presentation from Joshua Claybourn on the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW).

The SUVCW is a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of heroes who fought and worked to save the Union. “As legal heir to the Grand Army of the Republic, the SUVCW provides fascinating insight into post-Civil War fraternities and their efforts up to the present day,” said Claybourn. “This presentation will cover the history of the G.A.R. and SUVCW, along with their modern efforts to preserve Civil War history.”

The Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable is open to anyone interested in learning more about the U.S. Civil War. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Evansville F.O.P at 7:00 p.m.

Joshua Claybourn is a local attorney and author. He currently serves on the board of the Newburgh Plan Commission, the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, and is a national officer of the SUVCW. He is also a past President and Trustee of Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library and a past board member of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science.

Carpenter Family

Carpenter
Today in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln spent the evening in his study discussing the works of William Shakespeare with painter Francis Carpenter. The engraving shown here, courtesy of The Library of Congress, was originally painted by Carpenter and depicts the Lincoln family in The White House in 1861.

Carpenter was a descendant of the Rehoboth Carpenter family. This family included Willard Carpenter, the enterprising pioneer, citizen, and benefactor of Evansville who lived from 1803 to 1883. The Willard Carpenter House named in his honor is now home to WNIN. But he is perhaps best known for Willard Library, which he built and endowed. An agent for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War, Mr. Carpenter incorporated his concern for the rights of African Americans into his requirement that the library “be maintained for the free use of all persons who may desire to consult it.” This definition of a “public” library was a daring social experiment in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Welcome to the new VCHS Website

We are proud to unveil the new website of the Vanderbugh County Historical Society.  We have been working hard to develop a new look for a our group looking back at history while looking forward and utilizing technology to bring you content that you want.

When King Winter spreads his regal robes
The cold weather has given us lots of time indoors to design a new site

Our goal is to keep members informed of activities and events and to bring you stories of the past.  Here you will find all kinds of articles and images of Vanderbugh history.

Please send us your feedback to let us know what you think and don’t hesitate to contact us with ideas on how to serve you better.