Country Estates Indianapolis Cultural Ride

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This is our third endeavor in creating a Cultural Ride around Indianapolis in association with Indiana Landmarks.
Each time we take our bicycles and reveal new corners of our city. With the support of the lectures organized by Indiana Landmarks the discovery of the Millionaire Road is an eye-opener into a way of life known only to a select few families in Indianapolis.

The Country Estates located on the Northwest side of the city are the last examples of the luxury life of successful entrepreneurs at the beginning of the last century. The Sommers, Allison, and Wheeler-Stokely mansions overlook Cold Spring Road, once called the Millionaire Road. Of the original tour, organized by Indiana Landmarks, we were not able to include the Sommers mansion which is now a part of the campus of Cold Spring School; an Indianapolis Public School and therefore not open to the public. Fortunately we have the video of the Wendy Ford lecture where we show the beauty of the Sommers mansion's interiors and some of the remains of the structures around the house.

The loop of this Cultural Tour is seven and half miles and begins at the Major Taylor Velodrome Park at 3649 Cold Spring Road. Going south along Cold Spring, it winds through the campus of Marian University before reaching 30th Street. We take advantage of three bikeways that pass by or cross the bridge on 30th Street. To reach the 38th Street and Golden Hill Historic District first we sideline along 30th Street, then the Central Canal Towpath. In our return to the Velodrome Park we chose a different route using a segment of the White River Trail, from H. W. Klausman’s bridge, on 30th Street, up to I-65.

Please be careful, as the video warns, on the Central Canal Towpath after 0.12 miles passed the I-65 Bridge there is an exit on the left to go back on the North White River Parkway East Drive. If you miss it you will end up at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) backyard park. But, since I have done that mistake myself; I can say from my experience that you won't have any more access to the White River Parkway. So once at the IMA you have two options, go back to the Canal Towpath looking for the exit, or go through the Indianapolis Museum of Art at the main exit on the 38th Street eastbound.

 

 

The only mansion actually available to visit inside is James Allison’s estate known as Riverdale. Here, staff of the university welcome you, providing the opportunity to experience a very exquisite example of the taste of the high society of a century ago. [Watch Deborah Lawrence lecture] Don’t forget to spend some time in the garden beside the house; a fine example of nationally known historic landscape architect Jens Jensen work in defining a Midwestern native landscape. [Watch David Roth lecture]

Another stop I really enjoyed was at the Wheeler-Stokely mansion. Since it is undergoing remodeling, it is not possible to go inside other than the entrance hall where one can have a small taste of the interiors. But what caught my attention was the remnants of what once was the huge park-like estate grounds surrounding the mansion. The pagoda is still there, and some other buildings are visible showing the typical attention to details of the early years of the last century’s Art Deco Era. [Watch Caitlin Selby lecture]

Klausman’s bridge on 30th Street is another stop deserving our attention. A beautiful architectural structure clearly designed for more than vehicular passage as evidenced by the many outlooks this fascinating discovery offers through all of the views it offers. It also gives the opportunity to oversee the historic Riverside Park and after watching Tina Jones’s lecture about George Kessler master plan, we can really appreciate and value the importance of having public estates where all the people can enjoy nature and beauty.

Golden Hill, a country estate built by David Parry in 1904, remains today; a secluded neighborhood with beautiful properties and nice landscapes; has at its heart a little of history connecting with the roots of our land. Watch Dr. Becky Feldman share with us the finding of the Totem Pole in Golden Hill.