City-County Councilor Jeff Miller, who has lived in historic Fletcher Place for nearly 20 years, was interviewed for the video. “Historic area designation revitalized our urban area,” said Councilor Miller. “When people were fleeing downtown,” he continued, “historic preservationists in the 1980s came in and restored our downtown neighborhoods. We owe much of the resurgence of downtown to the IHPC and the historic preservation movement.”
MKNA developed the video in response to residents’ concerns that Meridian~Kessler’s historic character was eroding due to the demolition of historic homes and some inconsistent new construction. The video is designed to inform Indianapolis residents that without historic area designation through the IHPC, there is no way to prevent demolitions or new construction that is inconsistent with the look and feel of historic neighborhoods. Zoning laws—and, in most cases, designation on the National Register of Historic Places—rarely prevent demolitions or manage change to produce mutually beneficial outcomes for both the property owner and the greater neighborhood.
“The IHPC staff were thrilled to participate in the ‘Honor & Preserve’ video because of the positive impact it could have on Meridian~Kessler and other neighborhoods that do not have protective guidelines,” stated David Baker, administrator, IHPC. “Many people do not understand what historic areas are, or how to become a historic area, or even the IHPC’s role in our government,” he continued, “so we were happy to have the opportunity to convey that information in a medium that can reach so many people.”
Meridian~Kessler was one of Indianapolis’ first suburbs. Many homes in the area were built about 100 years ago by well-known architects and builders at the request of prominent property owners, such as Josiah Lilly, Dr. Joseph Eastman, Senator Albert J. Beverage, William Morton Herriott and Elmer Crane. Today, Meridian-Kessler has three neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places: Washington Park, Oliver Johnson’s Woods, and Forest Hills. Only one of Meridian~Kessler’s historic homes (the Historic Eastman/Lilly House) has protective guidelines and oversight by the IHPC. The other nearly 6,000 homes within its borders are at risk.
The video was made possible by an Historic Preservation Education Grant from Indiana Landmarks, Indiana Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a matching grant from MKNA, and through contributions by Road Pictures and Creative Videos.