Last Friday, I had the opportunity to tour Miller House and Gardens in Columbus, Indiana. This landmark is the result of 3 leading designers of their day working in synthesis with a 4th genius, a client who practically built Columbus in the mid-20th Century. Let me say, if you ever have a chance to tour this facility, don’t delay, and hope for a sunny day, as the interior is punctured with skylights at practically every turn. Interior photography is forbidden on the tour (and I can’t top the photos posted on the site linked in the first sentence), but I was fortunate enough to get some exterior shots. The grounds are beautiful with a sprinkling of snow on the ground:
The Miller house might be the most important Modernist house in Indiana. According to our knowledgeable guide, the house readapted the idea of the conversation pit for the first time since the 1920s. It is filled with light, but it provided the owners with plenty of opportunities for privacy. This was a real house that helped to raise 5 children, and there is plenty of function to go along with the eye-catching form.
But I was also impressed with other landmarks and streetscapes in downtown Columbus, much of which might not have been possible without the public works inertia created by J. Irwin Miller. I’m not going to attempt to recreate the excellent post on the city by The Urbanophile, so I’ll simply mention my personal highlights. My wife and I had a few hours to spend in the city before we joined the tour, so we explored the Commons(pdf warning) Community Center:
We then visited the century-old Zahareko’s (automatic music warning), which has been beautifully restored:
After the ice cream appetizer, we headed to Columbus Bar, another classic local spot, which also happens to be run by the people who brew beer known as PowerHouse. My IPA was certainly powerful, and the tenderloin was one of the better ones I’ve tried:
Finally, we headed to the IM Pei designed Library, where I could have killed a ton of time exploring the Indiana Room. I didn’t get a photo, as the exterior didn’t do a lot for me, and the interior was attractive, but difficult for an amateur like me to photograph.
Columbus is truly a testament to the influence that a single individual can have on a community. I left feeling inspired, wondering how I could have a greater impact on my own city of Indianapolis. I don’t have million dollar investments and I don’t run a company, but I can attend meetings, volunteer, and give ideas to some do-ers in town such as the People for Urban Progress. I can attend the Transit Day at the State House next Wednesday and lend my voice for better public transportation options. I can demand better for my city.