On July 8, Indiana Landmarks’ popular “Back to the Future” tour highlighting Mid-Century Modern architecture will feature five Mid-Century Modern properties dating to the 1950s and ‘60s on Indianapolis’s southside, including private residences and a Modernist standout turned event center.
Two homes on this year’s tour are located in the Glennwood Homes subdivision, developed in 1949 by a group of chemists from Eli Lilly and Company. Nicknamed “Pill Hill” because of associations with the pharmaceutical company, the 37-acre tract of property also happens to be the second highest point in Marion County.
Mid-Century Modern houses often incorporate walls of windows, skylights, and other features that maximize views of surrounding nature, blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. Tour stops include the following:
- Gassert House (1955). As an architectural photographer, Garry Chilluffo recognizes good design when he sees it. So when he and partner Craig Ware noticed a custom ranch house faced with Brown County stone in Indianapolis’s Homecroft Historic District, he knew they’d found something special. The pair bought the house in 2018, 63 years after it was built by Sarah and Karl Gassert, who adorned the home with high-end materials, slate floors in the entry and den, a stone fireplace, and cedar closets. Today, the original vintage kitchen cabinetry and all three original bathrooms remain. Garry and Craig have decorated the house with period furnishings, including living room pieces by Paul Frankl and a dining room suite by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings.
- Rice House (1952). Situated on a wooded two-acre lot in Glennwood, the house owned by Jeff and Beth Line projects a distinctly modern vibe with post-and-beam construction, a flat roof, and wide eaves. Built by Dr. and Mrs. Charles N. Rice in 1951-52, the house’s U-plan layout creates an entrance court flanked by the garage and bedroom wings. Inside, a low-ceilinged entry opens to a soaring living and dining room topped by a beamed ceiling. The space includes a large brick fireplace, tongue-and-groove walnut paneling, and large windows overlooking a landscaped yard. Throughout the house, the Lines display an extensive art collection featuring mostly local artists, including pieces by Robert Berkshire, Doris Vlasek-Hails, and Beth herself.
- Hale House (1951-52). Nearby, Jeneene and Gregg West are enthusiastic about their mid-century digs after beating out multiple offers to buy the house in late 2019. Built in 1952 by Tom and Beth Hale, the house is a simpler period design, with floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room that offer a striking view over a ravine. Both Realtors, the Wests are avid collectors of Mid-Century Modern furniture and accessories. The living room showcases two Danish Modern side chairs, an Adrian Pearsall side table, and accessories by Murano. Lithographs by Bernard Buffet and a 1970 “Birds in Flight” wall sculpture by Curtis Jeré line the walls.
- Laughner House (1967). Built by Charles Laughner, Sr. and his wife Patricia, this traditional house was built in the Neo-French Eclectic style. Laughner was the third generation in a family restaurant business, which began as an Indianapolis confectionery in 1888. He formed Laughner Brothers along with his brothers Richard and Lloyd in 1957, eventually founding Laughner’s Cafeterias, an Indiana institution for generations. Charles and Patricia Laughner hired architect William Beaman to create a French-inspired house they named “Le Ciel,” which means “the sky” in French. Its rectangular floor plan, hipped roof and half-timbering bore a striking resemblance to the design of their cafeteria properties. The house has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to its unique design and ties to the local business community.
- Mills House (1955-56). At one time, the Wrightian-style Mills House in Greenwood was so neglected it landed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list. After buying the house in 2018, Todd Anthony launched a year-long restoration, replacing the multi-tiered, cantilevered roofs, repairing terrazzo floors, installing new interior systems and overhauling the kitchen and baths while keeping original coral and green fixtures. To honor original architect Harry Cooler, Todd reopened the property as the Harry Cooler Conference Center, which hosts business retreats and small meetings.
Back to the Future is presented by Indiana Modern, an affinity group of Indiana Landmarks that works to preserve and promote the best of mid-twentieth century architecture, design, and landscapes across the state.
WHAT: Back to the Future: A Mid-Century Modern Landscapes Tour
WHEN: Saturday, July 8 from noon to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Check in at Friedens United Church of Christ, 8300 South Meridian Street
COST: Advance timed-entry tickets are $20 per person with discounts for members of Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Modern
Day-of-tour tickets are $25, available at tour headquarters
TICKETS: Buy tickets at midcenturytour23.eventbrite.com by calling 317-639-4534.
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Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, strengthens connections to our diverse heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
Mindi Woolman, Director of Marketing and Communications, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534, 317-417-1204 (cell), email@example.com
Mark Dollase, Vice President of Preservation Services, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534, 317-650-1650 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
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