Buzzkill: IHPC kills giant keg signs

June 17, 2008
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RathSomeone must've been drinking when they came up with this: A proposal submitted to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission last month called for three 10-foot-tall, protruding kegs with taps facing the Rathskeller Biergarten at downtown's Athenaeum. IHPC staff recommended denial of the kegs, and the Athenaeum Foundation eventually submitted and won approval this month for an alternate arrangement that calls for seven "sponsor" signs lower on the brick exterior. The kegs also would have required approval from the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, which saved the building in the 1980s. That group's vice president of preservation services, Mark Dollase, was having none of the proposal, and he wasn't just worried about the potential for damaged masonry. "Banner signs, awnings, business signs and the like on the property already diminish the dignity of this outstanding building," he said in a memo to IHPC. Cheers!
  • how do i get oh the ihpc? i am sick of their crap
  • Yo Cory, gotta love you man. I was just wonderin if you could update us on some old proposals that are/were in the pipeline. Also, maybe updates on projects that are under construction right now. Thanks man!
  • I have a problem with people that have a problem with beer.
  • If I read this correctly, the protruding kegs are out. But IHPC did approve 7 sponsor signs. Landmarks, which holds a protective covenant on the Athenaeum, is against all signs, banners, etc. because they diminish the dignity of the building.

    So, what will the Rathskellar do? IHPC says yes to the sponsor signs and Landmarks says no.

    I'm interested in seeing how this one plays out.
  • I think it is funny how people view the IHPC as a home owners group or something.
    They do get out of hand at times but moves like this I can agree with greatly.
    Indiana's German history should be properly preserved, even if it means not allowing a couple tacky beer signs on a historical landmark.
    Those sort of things are for bars(I'm aware where it is located there is a bar.) not Historic Landmarks.
    In this event I give a tip of my hat to the IHPC.
    Other times I'd enjoy freaking out on their choices.
  • I'm glad this one got shot down. That looks corny as all get out.

    There are other, classier ways of promoting their alcohol sponsors. They've got plenty of room in the courtyard, why not make use of it and erect something temporary there? Pergolas would look nice, and there are plenty of creative ways to affix logos to them.
  • The Athenaeum is one of this city's most important landmarks. I, for one, am glad it wasn't allowed to be Disneyfied with those ridiculous kegs, which would have been quite visible outside the biergarten. That kind of thing could maybe fly at a Cheeseburger in Paradise, but not at a classy place like the Rathskeller.
  • Let me start by saying that I am glad the keg taps won't be on the side of the Athenaeum. However, the sponsor signs on the side of the building were approved? The IHPC just needs some consistency with its decisions - they need a firm set of standards. And yes, I am aware that their standards are set forth in a couple hundred page book, but I have reviewed it, and there are no bright-line rules in there that they must follow. The IHPC serves a valuable purpose in this community, but they need to be held to definable standards so that their decisions aren't arbitrary (i.e. vendor signs are okay, taps are not).
  • First of all i want to concur that this was a ridiculous proposal and should have been denied (or not even proposed in the first place). Second I want to clarify that for the Athenaeum specifically, Historic Landmarks does not have protective covenants but instead has a facade easement. Both are legally enforceable property interests and Historic Landmarks has not been shy about enforcing their interests through litigation in the past. However, usually they don't result to litigation until faced with the impending loss of the building. Last, the law doesn't always provide for a bright-line rule when a determination might often be heavily fact sensitive. Therefore, when the facts and circumstances surrounding an issue, like the appropriateness of signage in historic districts, are highly variable and and often unique to a specific historic district, structure, and proposal the discretion of an administrative body (the commission) based on a hearing and recommendation by professional staff should be preferred over a bright-line rule.
  • JAK, I agree with you to a point. But from my experience, the complete fact sensitive approach that the IHPC has the liberty of taking does lead to decisions which are made based on the likes and dislikes of the staff and/or commissioners, and not necessarily based on standards that are set forth anywhere. My main concern with this is that this could (and has) had the effect of discouraging investment in historic areas - renovation and/or new construction - because people who want to invest money just don't want to deal with the arbitrariness of it all and the time delays. Not to say that I'm all for people building whatever they want in a historic district. I do think the IHPC serves an extremely valuable role for the community, I would just like to see them have some definable, base-line standards to use as a guide in making their fact sensitive decisions (over and above the Handbook). Then, if they felt that the circumstances warranted a deviation from the standards, they could argue their point and present evidence in support of the same. This would help people/investors/renovators feel like they're not getting jerked around because there would be more substance behind the decisions rather than personal taste and/or politics.
  • I'm glad I'm not the only one that think the awnings are out of place.

    There not even the same colors. Sponsor signage should also be out, print it on the napkins , pichers, coasters. The brick on the exterior indeed is fragil and crumbling in serveral places.

    Thanks Historic Landmarks !

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