Monday, July 25, 2011

Disappearing Muncie Exhibit in Ball State University Libraries

Disappearing Muncie: Ball State University Libraries’ Exhibit Depicts Lost Architecture and Heritage

The featured exhibit in the Archives and Special Collections in Bracken Library is Disappearing Muncie: Our Lost Heritage. The exhibit illustrates the changes in Muncie`s downtown during the first half of the twentieth century. The exhibit was made possible by resources from the Ball State University Archives and Special Collections and the Drawings and Documents Archives. Photographs from the W. A. Swift, Spurgeon-Greene, and Otto Sellers collections will be on display, as well as architectural drawings, ephemera, and newspaper articles.

During its peak, downtown was vibrant and bustling with many multi-storied structures, an illustrious courthouse, hotels, several movie theaters and opera houses. However, decades of structural decay and an increased need for more parking led many of these structures, including the Delaware County Courthouse, to be demolished.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Muncie available from the Archives and Special Collections are another invaluable resource detailing lost architecture of the city. The map shown above from 1887 shows the location of the courthouse at that time (click to enlarge). One of the opera houses can be seen in the block just south of the courthouse. Other now nonexistent shops and businesses can also be viewed on the map, including a billiards hall, cigar and hat shops, agriculture implements, a carriage factory and marble works, and boarding house. The Sanborn maps of Muncie are available from the Digital Media Repository on the University Libraries Web page.

The aerial photograph shown above is part of the historic collection in the GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) and is of the northernmost part of downtown Muncie in 1941. The existing Muncie Fieldhouse can be seen near the river. However, the Minnetrista Golf Course along the river has disappeared. The aerial photograph provides evidence of the freeways on the golf course. The photograph of golfers on the course is from the W.A. Swift collection in Archives and Special Collections.

This featured exhibit will be available through the middle of August. For more information about the exhibit or any of the resources, please contact the Archives and Special Collection at 765-285-5078. For information about the maps, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.

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