Friday, September 23, 2016

Indy's Holliday Park celebrates
restoration of iconic Ruins

It had been six years since I was last in Indy's Holliday Park to photograph (and as best as I can recall, it probably also was the last time I was there).

Then on Sept. 15, The Indianapolis Star published an article reporting that the park's iconic attraction -- the Ruins -- had been restored and reopened to the public. I decided to wait until after the official restoration ceremony (which was Sept. 17) before going there to check it out. I did so on Tuesday, and photographs you see here are from that shoot.

In 2010, I ventured into the garden area and adjacent woods along White River, but not Tuesday. Instead, after photographing the Ruins, I checked out the Nature Center before calling it a day and heading home.

The Ruins are remnants from a  "The Races of Man" sculpture by Karl T. Bitter on the facade of the St. Paul Building, one of New York City's first skyscrapers. When the St. Paul Building was targeted for replacement by building owner Western Electric Co. in the 1950s, Indianapolis successfully bid to accept the remnants and display them in the park, which was land donated in 1916 by John and Evaline Holliday, according to The Star article. The finished installation, including a reflecting pool, wasn't dedicated until 1979, according to The Star.

By the mid-1990s, the Ruins were in obvious disrepair. Neighbors resisted an initial plan to remove the installation, so a fence eventually was erected around it until refurbishment funds and labor could be arranged and engaged. When I was there in 2010, the fencing forced photographers to use a decent zoom lens if they hoped to get closeups of the figures on the three posts.

I don't know if there was a fountain as part of the original development, but there are two there now. The restored version features a shimmer fountain and children's water table and wooden lounge chairs on the main/front side, as depicted in the photo leading off the post. A traditional fountain can be found on the back side of the structure, the one visitors see walking in from the parking lot (a shot of that appears below). On warm days, the former is a popular attraction to youngsters, who wade in the very thin layer of water that fills much of the bricked area.

For a full gallery of my images from Holliday Park, visit my site at As always, click on any images to view a larger, sharper version, which is particularly important when the blog is accessed on a mobile device.

Photo geek info: For the entire shoot, I used a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and a polarizing filter. I bracketed the exposures for each scene that I combined in post-processing using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software. For most shots, I set the ISO at ISO 100 and used an aperture of f/8 or f/9, letting the shutter be my exposure variable.

Above: An inviting landscaped promenade leads from the parking lot to the Ruins.  

A closeup (above) of the figures constituting "The Three Races" and a closeup (below) of the figure on the far right above.  

Above and next two below: Some detail shots from sections of the structure.

Above and below: A photographer can challenge him/herself with trying to find an interesting way to capture the semicircular row of stone pillars on the backside of the Ruins. 

Further into the park, across an open green space from the Ruins, one comes across these three monuments (above), which the park calls its dedicatory stones. A closeup of the stone on the right appears below. 

 Above: A tree stands out along the edge of the meadow leading to the gardens.

A pergola and art installation (above) greet visitors to the nature center (below).  

The art installation, framed by a tree and garden foliage (above), as seen from the pergola. Below is the pergola ceiling. 

Above: Pavers etched with fundraising memorials line the floor of the pergola.

Above: A mailbox outside the former Holliday family house. The pergola appears in the background.

A solitary tree (above) and a circle of trees (below, left) in an area north of the Ruins, which can be seen in the right background in the photo below.  

Above: Lounge chairs adjacent to the children's water table near the Ruins.

For many years, statues of eight Greek goddesses stood on the facade of the old Marion County Courthouse in Indianapolis. After the courthouse was razed in 1963 (it was replaced by today's City-County Building), Holliday Park obtained four of those statues and positioned them alongside the Ruins. The number of statues dwindled to two by 2007, and today only the one above remains (that I could find, anyway). A closeup of her feet appears below.    

Above: A good amount of landscaping and/or grass seeding remains to be done, as evidenced in the photo above.

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