Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"The space within becomes the reality of the building"

Indian Village Elementary School
3835 Wenonah Lane
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809

Photo of Dedication Plaque, located in the first set of entrance doors.

Taken by Kristina Frazier-Henry
May 23, 2008

Quote courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright

The space within becomes the reality of the building.

When I went home last month, I was lucky enough to be treated to a tour of my grade school, Indian Village Elementary (thank you Carl!).

From the outside, a couple of things have changed. First, they've added on a new wing. Where there was once grass, there was a new arm of the building, complete with a parking lot. Second, there was this overhead awning with a red canopy at the front entrance of the school. Looked out of place to me - but what do I know? I'm just a kid who liked the plain and simple entrance to my grade school.

And then there were the things that looked the same.

The circular drive-way/drive-in/angular parking was still the same. The outside structure - i.e. the color of the stone - and the basic foundational elements of the school - looked the same.

As I walked up the stairs to the entrance - to those "doors" - memories came flooding back of the times when our buses would drop us off in the morning or pick us up in the afternoon. The teachers - and usually Dr. Schroeder - would always be there to greet us.

When I opened up the outer doors, I looked to the left and saw this plaque (pictured above).

Interesting plaque. I've seen it thousands of times. After all, it was there, from the very first day in 1972 that I started to attend this school. I remember reading it too but I never thought about the significance of what it said.

There's history on this plaque.

History that goes beyond a gold and black sheet of metal, fastened to a wall of brick and stone.

B.F. Geyer

Do you know who B.F. Geyer was? Benjamin Franklin Geyer.

He was pretty significant to the Fort Wayne Community - and for many, many years.

Photo Courtesy of the Allen County Public Library.

Sometime during the 20's, he was President of The East State Bank (located at 1201 Maumee Avenue).

After the depression, he was President of Wayne Pump.

He was a driving force in raising funds for the construction of the Chamber of Commerce Building (by the way - that's where my wedding reception was held).

Mr. Geyer was part of a group (as a board member) who put together the overall Parkview Hospital infrastructure which included the School of Nursing (by the way, I was born in that hospital).

He helped shape the early years of Fort Wayne's school system - both as board member and president - for over 20 years (by the way, I was a proud alumni of said school system).

If Geyer's name sounds a little familiar - maybe you recognize the school that was named after him - Ben Geyer Junior High. It was renamed to Geyer Middle School.

I went to go look up information about it - and sadly, I came across an article from the Indiana Policy Review (June 6, 2006). After four years on the No Child Left Behind failing school list, the Fort Wayne middle school closed for good on June 1.

One of the articles I read said that the school was overhauled and reopened under another name. Mr. Geyer's service to the Fort Wayne community was dismissed - or should I say - reassigned - to some grass (a football field for 1st through 8th graders) in the back of the currently renamed school.

Dear Mr. Geyer: I'm sorry that your successors and their Superintendent failed you and the community you helped to build up. R.I.P. And maybe one day the community will respect you and you will be formally re-recognize for your contributions through something more dignified then a grassy knoll.

Aaron T. Lindley

Mr. Lindley was our superintendent at the time Indian Village Elementary was built. He served in this position for about ten years and then (as reported by a 1961 news article), he resigned his position and accepted an offer at Purdue University for 1/3 of his salary. There was quite a ruckus. School board member Willard Shambaugh knew of his plans to resign and to add salt to the wound, the school board voted to give Mr. Lindley a $10,000 grant as "Terminal Compensation". This infuriated the Mayor of Fort Wayne (Paul Burns) and after some public pressure, the board pulled back their $10,000 offer.

Things that make you go hmmmmm.....

But never you mind. Both Shambaugh and Lindley still have schools named after them.

Side note: This could change soon I guess as both schools made this list.

P.S. Willard Shambaugh went on to become the President of Lincoln Bank (1962) after the sudden death of Charles H. Buesching.

Mox Pohlmeyer and Associates
They architected Indian Village Elementary!

From the City of Fort Wayne website:
Pohlmeyer & Pohlmeyer: Fort Wayne natives Fred W. Pohlmeyer (1885-1953) and Martin W. "Mox" Pohlmeyer (1896-1981) were sons of a local building contractor. Fred W. obtained his architectural training working in the offices of both Chicago and local architects. Younger brother Mox was a graduate of Carnegie Tech, and gained experience working with noted eastern architects. The firm designed homes, schools, and commercial buildings such as the Robert Hattersley House (17156), the Coony Bayer House (17188), the Coca Cola Bottling Works (39017), and John S. Irwin School (48002).

Wow. Thank you Mox. You architected a really kick-ass building for us.

Wermuth Inc.

I couldn't find much on this general contracting company with the exception of scads of pictures of their work.

International Harvester Tower - Charles R. Wermuth & Son (General Contractors).

Photo Courtesy of the Allen County Public Library.

Shambaugh & Sons

A familiar name - has been around Fort Wayne forever. And no - this wasn't Willard Shambaugh's business, this was Roscoe and Max Shambaugh's (who coincidentally, served on the County Council). The company is still around today - bigger and better than ever and headed up by the next generation of Shambaugh's - Mark.

SO - all of this - just from one averaged-sized, gold and black sheet of metal, fastened to a wall of brick and stone.

And the tour was only beginning...


Carl H. said...

I love how you think to dig up the details of people. I guess when I see those plaques, I just see names and don't think to investigate from there. But, thanks to the internet, I now have the resources to do the same.

Now back to your tour...
Do you remember the gumball tree on the K - third grade playground? How about the boxball courts or my favorite - the kissing tree? I used to chase the girls that teased me in class around and when I caught them, drag them over to this tree (so the teachers couldn't see) and kiss them. For this act of unsolicited fun, I usually got a kick in the shins - I still have the scars! By fourth grade I figured out that these same girls only teased me because they wanted me to chase, drag, and kiss them. Weird, huh?!

Kristina said...

It's my job to dig up the details ;).

The gumball tree?! No, I don't remember that. Say more. Find a picture of it!!

I have picture of the boxball courts - and the kissing tree? Well, we will have to compare notes on which tree that was :).

Carl - I want some NAMES of who these girls were!!!

Spit it out!!!