Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:01
I guess that old building could tell a few stories ?if only those wall could talk!!!!!!!!
Demolition near track evokes memories of faded glory
In the '60s, drivers stayed at the Classic Motor Inn, which is being torn down.
• Track clears way for fan parking
February 10, 2004
While some may have considered the Classic Motor Inn and the American Art and Clay Company buildings eyesores, a state preservationist says their demolition is a loss of history.
The motel -- which opened as the original Holiday Inn in Indianapolis 44 years ago at 16th and Polco streets -- was at one time the place for celebrities to stay for the race.
Over the years, the luster was lost through a succession of absentee owners. The swimming pool where race celebrities once played was filled in years ago.
"It was luxury in its day. It was a fantastic place when it was brand new, but it has been in terrible disrepair," said track historian Donald Davidson.
Mark Dollase, director of the central regional office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, lamented the loss of the motel. "In this country, we're still trying to get people to appreciate architecture that is 100 years old, and that battle is being won slowly," he said.
"But asking people to appreciate something of 40 or 50 years ago, still within their lifetime, is a stretch."
The motel's art deco and 1960s futuristic design has been captured for posterity in several Hollywood movies about Indy racing.
The motel opened before there were any others around the interstate, Davidson said..
"The Speedway Motel didn't open across the street for another three years. The only places for guests to stay were the old hotels Downtown, so the Holiday Inn was the place for race drivers, team owners, astronauts and celebrities.
"Jim Rathmann was one of the drivers who stayed there" in 1960, Davidson said. "The morning of the race, he got up and found he had no car to get over to the track so he could drive in the race. So, he walked to the 500 and he won the race that day."
While celebrities were spending time at the hotel across from the speedway, the American Art and Clay Co. next door was busy carving out its piece of Speedway lore.
Ted Philpott, who died in 1966, founded the company in 1919 in Indianapolis and moved it in 1931 to 4717 W. 16th St..
The company, which makes ceramics and modeling clay for schoolchildren and artists, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of school clay products and a leader in the production of potter's kilns and turning wheels. Its products are sold worldwide.
Philpott, who was a big-game hunter, traveled the world and returned to Speedway with lions, zebras, long-legged cats from Africa and many other animals.
One of the most popular field trips for Indiana schoolchildren in the 1960s was to tour the art and clay factory and then see Philpott's mini zoo behind the plant.
The animals were donated to the Indianapolis Zoo in 1966.
Bond Sandoe, the longtime chairman and CEO of the company, said he agreed to sell the 165,000-square-foot building plus several acres of land for many reasons.
"We've been landlocked here. Our dock space onto Polco Street is so limited that the trucks can block the street. This building is kind of a landmark but the area can look nicer. This place has served its time."
The company will move out this week and demolition will begin in March. Eight towering silos that hold up to 2 million pounds of raw materials used to make modeling clay and ceramic materials will be dismantled and moved.
The company will head to a larger building on 14 acres with room to grow in the 6000 block of Guion Road. The 170 employees will make the move.
"This will help the town. This move means our company is 85 and young again. And this place has served its time," Sandoe said.
"We'll lose our great parking spaces for race days." Love that line
Posted 10 February 2004 - 17:55
Posted 11 February 2004 - 03:03
But, even Donald Davidson, historian that he is, failed to mention that in the middle of all of that real estate once stood the 16th Street Speedway, famed for the classic "Night Before the 500" Midget races!
Oh well--I find it almost amusing that the preservationists are now trying to save old Holiday Inn's--when will they see the value in preserving some of the classic Auto Dealership buildings that abound in older downtowns in the US? Some of those are fascinating, like the former Studebaker Dealership building, here in Downtown Mishawaka--located exactly 2.5 miles due east of the former Studebaker plant.
Posted 11 February 2004 - 05:22
Parnelli had a swift and physical reply.
Posted 11 February 2004 - 05:45
But, even Donald Davidson, historian that he is, failed to mention that in the middle of all of that real estate once stood the 16th Street Speedway, famed for the classic "Night BeforMidget races!
Thanks for that info Aanderson i remember reading about them in our local M/R magazines but i never got to see them that would have been a GREAT sight . :
Posted 11 February 2004 - 12:29