Friday, May 5, 2017

Unexpected. Unforgettable.

Ed and I are just back from visiting Jack in Berlin and touring around Croatia. I want to tell you about the trip – and write about it so I won't forget the details – but before I do, I wanted to put in a plug for a quick field trip that we made the week before we left.

In mid-April, we headed to Columbus, IN for an overnight stay at the Inn at Irwin Gardens, a tour of the town's world-class architecture, public art and green spaces, and a separate tour of the 1950-era Miller House, commissioned by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller.

You may wonder why Columbus is home to an amazing array of well-designed buildings, bridges and parks. The story goes something like this: Beginning in 1954 Cummins Engine Foundation, headquartered in Columbus, offered to pay the architect's fee for any new school -- and later expanded the program to include a variety of public buildings -- provided it was designed by an architect selected from a list supplied by the Foundation. Soon other companies and church congregations got on board and sought architects who would add to the community's quality of design.

Columbus, less than two hours from our front door, is a town of just 46,000 residents but is now recognized as one of the the nation's most architecturally important cities, boasting more than 50 projects by renowned modernists. It is very impressive.

Joining us for the tour was a college friend of Ed's: Jim Collier, and our daughter Maggie. We specifically scheduled the tour because Henry Kuehn, a mentor to Maggie and fellow Rotarian to both Maggie and Ed was leading it. Henry is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide and made the day all the more special for us.

It was an all-around delightful trip and I hope my readers will consider making a pilgrimage. You can book a tour here. Additionally, the drive, via Madison, IN, is interesting in its own right.

The Inn at Irwin Gardens, a 1910 Edwardian mansion, was our home for the night.
And we made ourselves at home with wine in the library.
And a walk around the gardens, which actually were under renovation,
but should be completed by now. 
We started our tour from the Visitors' Center,
which features a yellow neon chandelier by Dale Chihuly
We toured churches, schools, hospitals, public parks and privately owned buildings.

Henry Moore sculpture: Large Arch, 1971

The Miller House, photo from the Visitors Center 

The Miller House, photo from the Visitors Center 

We ended our visit with ice-cream from Zaharakos Old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, which I can also highly recommend!

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