June conference to highlight historic local landscapes: Oldfields, Garfield Park, Riverdale among sites on tour

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Marian College will act as host for Hidden Treasures of Indianapolis, a conference scheduled for June 9-11 at the northside college and sites around the city.

The first-ever conference of its kind locally will offer lectures and tours of some of the city’s historic landscapes, which were designed by some of the pre
eminent landscape architects of the early 20th century.

Tours available to attendees include a driving tour of George Kessler’s Parks and Boulevard System, which is at 3,474 acres one of the largest properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other tours include Garfield Park’s Sunken Gardens, Oldfields at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Riverdale at Marian’s Allison Mansion.

The latter, designed by Jens Jensen, was rediscovered only a few years ago by Marian officials. The college now is working on plans to restore much of the 64-acre landscape, starting with the gardens immediately surrounding the mansion, said David Roth, an architect with locally based Storrow Kinsella Associates Inc., which is working with the college.

As with the Jensen landscape, many of the city’s historic landscapes have only recently been rediscovered, leading to the conference’s name, Roth said.

The goal of the symposium is to bring such landscapes back into the limelight and to tie them to other efforts to boost the city’s presence as an arts and cultural destination, Roth said.

“The same reasons [the Kessler system] was developed about 100 years ago are some of the same reasons it’s important today-for purposes of making Indianapolis known as an arts and cultural destination, for economic development, to promote healthy living,” he said.

The conference will also include other public activities, such as walking tours of public sculpture and the Wholesale District and a bus tour of Irvington.

After the conference, organizers hope to form a more formal organization of groups involved with the city’s historic landscapes and to repeat the conference on a semiannual basis, Roth said.

Organizers expect Hidden Treasures to draw landscape architecture professionals
and historic landscape buffs, as well as municipal officials from other cities in Indiana.

The cost for the conference is $175, plus additional fees for some of the activities. Three events, luncheons at Marian College and the Indianapolis Museum of Art and a gala reception at Garfield Park, are also open to those not attending the conference.

Oldfields at the Indianapolis Museum of Art will be a tour site during the Hidden Treasures of Indianapolis conference.

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