Spotlight: Recognizing our neighborhood’s history

Longtime resident Thomas Ridley and School of Science Dean Simon Rhodes are collaborating on the project.

Recognizing those who were here before

As a part of the Welcoming Campus Initiative, IUPUI is honoring our neighborhood’s heritage.

Working with longtime resident Thomas Ridley, School of Science Dean Simon Rhodes is collaborating with colleagues from the University Library, the School of Liberal Arts, and the School of Engineering and Technology to create a permanent exhibition in the Science Engineering Lab Building on Blackford Street that will “walk” visitors through the history of the land upon which IUPUI now stands.

A history of welcome

According to 95-year-old Ridley, “The area has always been friendly. Even in the 1920s, I can remember cooking out with other families around the neighborhood. I grew up at a time when things were segregated. Now, to walk through campus and see so many young students from different places and backgrounds, it’s so vibrant.”

It’s exciting to learn about the area and play a role in bringing this neighborhood’s story to life for others to experience.

Sidney A. Moore, graduate student in museum studies

Chronicling our history

Museum Studies and Anthropology students have been involved in the project from the beginning. Students such as Sidney Moore and JamieLe West are using historical photos, maps, and newspapers to chronicle the evolution of what once was a thriving African-American neighborhood into what is now IUPUI.

As Dean Rhodes explained, he wants students, faculty, staff, and visitors to understand the history and culture of the neighborhood when they visit the building.

The Welcoming Campus Innovation Project in action

Description of the video:

[Video: An older man looks at an interviewer, who is off-screen. The words “Thomas Ridley, Docent, Madam Walker Theater,” appear.]

Ridley speaks: I remember when I was a kid I lived two blocks from here on a street called Centre Street. During those days, I'm talking about the 20s, whole families would take off and go on a more tor less an excursion, a walk to some other family’s home.

[Video: A black and white photo of a one story house with cars parked out front.]

Ridley speaks: And they would have cook outs and what not.

[Video: An aerial view of a row of houses]

Ridley speaks: and all those houses were cleared out.

[Video: Ridley speaks to an interviewer.]

Ridley speaks: The school and other organizations were not built. Buildings that were not in there.

[Video: A black and white picture of large buildings on the edge of a neighborhood.]

Ridley speaks: All that has changed.

[Video: A man in a plaid suit speaks to the camera. The words, “Simon Rhodes, Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Biology, IUPUI,” appear.]

Rhodes speaks: This project is designed to bring some history into the science and engineering lab building. We've polled some of the students and some of the students thought that this building was built on a corn field.

[Video: An old-looking map of the area around Military Park appears on screen.}

Rhodes speaks: And they don't realize there were hundreds of years of history here and so we would like them to know that.

[Video: A short-haired woman speaks to the camera. The words “Sidney A. Moore, Museum Studies Graduate Student, School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI” appear on screen.]

Moore speaks: I became involved with this program through our exhibit design and planning course for the Museum Studies graduate program. We were asked during our course to create proposals for the welcoming initiative grant for the welcome to the neighborhood exhibit.

[Video: A dark-haired woman appears on screen. The words “Jamiele West, Museum Studies Graduate Student, School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI,” appear.]

West speaks: The initial inspiration for me, for my design in this exhibit was the space itself.

[Video: A build exterior with blue, red, green, and purple glass.]

West speaks:

I loved the colored glass windows on the exterior

[Video: A black and white photo of African Americans playing horns.]

West speaks: and I also have been inspired a lot by the stories I've heard and what I'm uncovering about the history of the area and trying to incorporate that in the design of the space.

[Video: The short haired woman speaks to the camera.]

Moore speaks: What I'm wanting to do is three infographics. One will be on homes

[Video: A black and white aerial photo of a city neighborhood.]

Moore speaks: so we'd like to highlight the Flanner homes and Lockefield Gardens.

[Video: Moore talks to the camera]

Moore speaks: And then the next one we will have is about businesses.

[Video: A red brick building with a sign reading Indianapolis Casket Co.]

Moore speaks: We kind of want to touch on how the amenities of the areas were important to people.

[Video: Moore talks to the camera]

Moore speaks: So like the cost of getting some cookies at the Century Biscuit Company

[Video: A black and white photo of a building with a sign reading Walker Theater.]

Moore speaks: Or what it cost to go to the Madam Walker to go see a movie and it was air-conditioned in that area so it was a really great place to go.

[Video: A black and white photo of a church.]

Moore speaks: The last one is going to highlight the churches in the area and the diversity of them.

[Video: Moore talks to the camera.]

Moore speaks: And then from there you go over to our map interactive and the map interactive is going to have several layers

[Video: A map changes from black and white to multi-colored.]

Moore speaks: So you can see visually the change of the neighborhood.

[Video: West talks to an interviewer off-screen.]

West speaks: I am very excited about this exhibit because it has been a great stepping stone in my school path and I was really excited about the vision Dean Rhoades had for this space and now we're actually getting to see the project come to completion and that's very exciting.

[Video: The words IUPUI Fulfilling the Promise fill a black screen.]