Live from the Historic Roads Conference 2012

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Hello from Indianapolis! I’m sitting in my hotel room inside of an old Pullman Car in the Crown Plaza Hotel. This building is the Indianapolis Union Station and has been adapted for use as a hotel. Trains still roll through underneath then building and cause a lovely rumbling sensation!

Today we wrapped up the final day of the Preserving the Historic Road Conference, one of my  favorite events. This was the 8th biennial conference and the third that I have attended. Having spent 7 years with the West Virginia Division of Highways studying and analyzing historic roads and bridges, I have found the Historic Roads conference to be extremely relevant to the resources and issues with which we dealt. When people hear  “historic preservation,” they usually think first of old buildings, museums and restoration, but roads and bridges have a very important place in history too, and in fact, are probably one of the few resources that every single one of us have in common. I presented my paper, “Historic Travel Guides as Research Sources,” (see my earlier blog post on the subject) on Friday, and it went quite well, I think!

The Historic Roads conference also attracts a great mix of people from state and federal government, non-profits, the consulting world and other organizations. What we all have in common is a love for the old “scenic” routes… getting off the interstate and seeing America close-up. I’ll share some more details of interesting sessions in future posts, but for now, I’m just going to post some photos of Indianapolis. Indianapolis is along the National Road, a.k.a. US Route 40, the first federally funded road ever built in the United States. It was constructed in from 1811-1837 between Maryland and Illinois. To learn more about the National Road, visit

Union Station, Indianapolis (1886-88)

The main waiting room of Union Station, a gorgeous Victorian interior.

Tilework inside Union Station. I am in love with the beautiful texture and colors.

Art Deco-era parking garage along the old National Road through downtown Indianapolis. And you thought parking garages were always lame and boring!

The Middle-East inspired tower of the Shriners’ Murat Temple. (1909)

Indiana Landmarks, the second largest preservation non-profit in the country. They hosted us at their center, the restored Central Avenue Methodist Church.

The Victorian interior of the Indiana Landmarks Center.

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Courtney is the owner and principal of Aurora Research Associates, LLC, an historic preservation consulting firm.

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