Billboard Update: 16th and Delaware
In the latter half of the 19th century, Indianapolis saw for a first time one of its own climb through the political ranks of the United States government and take his seat in the White House. His name was Benjamin Harrison, and as a resident of the Old Northside neighborhood he was no stranger to the sidewalks of North Delaware Street. One might well imagine the influential Harrison taking an evening stroll. It would be autumn, and air would have that newfound crispness that usually comes around the end of September. He slips on his coat, grabs a cigar from the box in his study, lights it, and steps out the front door heading northbound on Delaware St.
A few blocks north, just across 16th Street in what is now the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood, a local painter by the name of T.C. Steele felt he had been nestled in his studio for just a bit too long. Only a year before, he and his family had been in Munich, Germany where Steele had studied painting for five years. He was pleased his return to Indiana had sparked a sort of movement within the arts, and his studio had become a hub for the local arts community. So in similar fashion Steele washed his brushes, slid into his coat, stepped out the front door and made his way south down the sidewalk of Delaware Street.
As we ponder these two men walking toward each other on Delaware, it becomes effortless to watch their legacies unfold, and to see the immediate impact each had on the neighborhood. We see the beautiful Harrison home on the west side of Delaware Street, and the historic First Presbyterian building Benjamin Harrison helped to build. We remember the Tinker Mansion on the northeast corner of 16th and Penn where Herron High School’s campus stands today, but that was once the location where T.C. Steele painted many of his masterpieces. We look at these things and we see our heritage.
This heritage, offered to us by our forefathers Benjamin Harrison and T.C. Steele, serves as the inspiration for the City Gallery’s newest addition to our billboard series at the intersection of 16th and Delaware. Artist Kyle Ragsdale’s work featured on the billboard captures and commemorates the political and artistic heritage founded by Harrison and Steele. The painting shows Harrison beside his wife Mary Harrison, and Steele accompanied by his wife Mary Steele. The two couples stand in the foreground of the piece with the Tinker Mansion on the northeast corner of 16th and Penn.
As we drive past this billboard, we remember those who helped shape our neighborhoods into what they are today. We remember those who set our values in place. We remember Benjamin Harrison, and T.C. Steele.