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#DTFW Architecture

Artlink show highlights downtown’s most striking structures past and present

By Eddie Torres


Fort Wayne Reader


Images and stories of “old” Fort Wayne — especially old downtown Fort Wayne — seem to hold a powerful fascination for a lot of people. FWR’s own “Old School Picture of the Week” regular feature is probably one of the more consistently commented on items we run; an image of a distinctive building or a bustling street scene invariably gets a few e-mails or a phone call from someone helping us out with an exact date or simply filling in a few details.

We’re sure nostalgia has something to do with it, but it can’t be the entire reason — we hear from plenty of people who just weren’t old enough to know Fort Wayne “back then,” or who may not know the stories or history behind some of these landmarks, but nevertheless find something to admire and appreciate.

Artlink’s #DTFW Architecture show, a collaborative exhibit with ARCH, The History Center and Fort Wayne historian Randolph Harter, features historic images of distinctive downtown architecture, paired with contemporary images from notable area photographers.

“We wanted to highlight the architecture of downtown,” explains Christina Rorick, Artlink’s Gallery Coordinator. “The sites are all easily recognizable buildings, all in the 46802 zip code.”

The historic images each have at least one companion piece taken by a contemporary area photographer. “The artists didn’t even see the historical images,” Rorick says. “We wanted them to give us their own interpretation, to tell us why they found the building interesting.”

As Rorick says, the subjects are all very distinctive — the Lincoln Tower, the Allen County Courthouse, and the old St. Mary’s church, to name a few. But there are several you might not quite be able to place in their historic settings (or you wouldn’t be able to place them without a contemporary image to help you out). One photo of a particularly big, impressive stone house in what appears to be an open field seems very familiar… “It’s actually what’s now the Castle Gallery,’ Rorick points out. “I think the photo is from 1908. (The building) is in the exact same place it is now.”

The write ups accompanying the historic images are by Fort Wayne historians Randolph Harter and Craig Leonard. “They did some digging on each and every building — who the architect was, the syle, when it was built…” says Rorick.

A wide selection from Harter’s collection of vintage Fort Wayne photo-postcards from the early 1900s is also on display. "Postcards in the early 1900's were the most inexpensive way to communicate at a time when the average person had neither a telephone nor automobile,” Harter writes in the display description. “For 1 or 2 cents you could send a message across the country, or just across town. Additionally, in many cases the only image preserved of a local event, structure, or vista is from an early postcard."

Also featured at Artlink through the end of the month is an exhibition of photographs from the Fort Wayne Photographers Club, and Photography by Tara Denny.

#DTFW Architecture
Auer Center for Arts & Culture, 300 E. Main Street
Tues-Fri 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday noon to 6 p.m; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Free for Artlink members; $2 suggested donation for the public

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