9 Cool Historic Places in Indiana

Every May, the National Register of Historic Places celebrates National Preservation Month for the purpose of instilling community pride and to show the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.

As an environmental consulting firm with a deep respect for history and community, EnviroForensics promotes the adaptive reuse of historic buildings. We believe that redevelopment often times brings much-needed economic relief to depressed areas, and when possible the preservation of timeless architectural design provides a beneficial window to the past.

To show our support for National Preservation Month, our Indianapolis team has compiled some photos and stories of our favorite historic structures right here in Indiana.

picture of Indiana Statehouse

1. Indiana Statehouse

Indianapolis, Indiana | View from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

Designed by Hoosier architect Edwin May in 1888, the Indiana Statehouse is the fifth iteration and sits at 200 West Washington Street. It houses the Indiana General Assembly, the office of the Governor of Indiana, the Supreme Court of Indiana and other state officials. The interior was modeled in the Italian Renaissance style. When possible, native Indiana materials were used. Doors are made of Indiana oak, and Indiana limestone was used throughout the structure. Over 40 pieces of public art spanning more than 130 years is available to the public. There’s also a time capsule bored into the cornerstone with forty-two items.

📸: Elizabeth Hemingway, Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications


Picture of willard carpenter house2. Willard Carpenter House

Evansville, Indiana

Completed in 1849, the Willard Carpenter House at 405 Carpenter Street is built of brick and stone, a fine example of Georgian architecture. Materials came from nearby or were shipped down the Ohio River from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Willard Carpenter was known as Evansville’s “pioneer of public charity,” who acted as an agent for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. The house was one of the first stops after making it across the Ohio River. A stone tunnel led from the river three blocks away north to the Carpenters basement, where people hid until they could be relayed to stations further north. The Carpenter House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

📸: Elizabeth Hemingway, Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications


inside pearl laundry3. Pearl Laundry

Evansville, Indiana | View from inside.

Pearls Laundry started in 1896 by Al Rust and Daniel Korb and it has been based at the 414-432 Market Street since 1912. It did deliveries by horse and buggy until 1938.  In 2017, Pearl Cleaners closed its century-old Downtown Evansville location, amid litigation by the neighboring property, which says it is owed a reimbursement of environmental contamination costs. The business license was purchased, and customers were directed to a new location on Evansville’s East Side.

Like many dry cleaners, Pearls had chlorinated solvent contamination. The contaminated property was purchased by an investor, who retained EnviroForensics to conduct insurance archeology and the environmental investigation and cleanup.  The environmental cleanup is almost complete at the historical Pearl Cleaner building in Evansville’s downtown TIF district. It’s undergoing adaptive reuse to become a part of the dynamic downtown community, while EnviroForensics conducts remedial actions necessary to get the site through the regulatory closure process.

📸: Elizabeth Hemingway, Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications


EnviroForensics HQ before (right side of picture) and after (left side of picture) redevelopment.

4. EnviroForensics Headquarters

Indianapolis, Indiana

EnviroForensics’ headquarters at 825 N. Capitol Avenue was originally a transmission repair shop dating back to the 1930s. The 23,000 sq. ft. structure had environmental contamination left behind by auto repair operations. This complicated redevelopment for real estate developers, but, as an expert environmental engineering company, we knew how to remediate the environmental contamination and saw the value of investing in the property and the North Meridian neighborhood. We conducted insurance archeology to locate the historical insurance policies to fund the site investigation and cleanup of the contamination. Once mitigation infrastructure was in place, we started to bring our vision for a revitalized headquarters to life. Now, the building houses more than 70 employees who are committed to our surrounding community.

For more on how we revitalized the historical building, visit http://tvz.eb0.myftpupload.com/blog/enviroforensics-hq-brownfields-site/

📸: Alex Miller, Communications Coordinator


central library in downtown Indianapolis6. Indianapolis Central Library

Indianapolis, Indiana

The original Central Library Building, located just a few blocks east of the EnviroForensics Headquarters, was completed in 1917. The library was designed by French-born architect Paul Philippe Cret, whose other famous work includes the Main Building on the Campus of the University of Texas and the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. A new six-story curved-glass and steel addition was built onto the original structure in 2001, but issues with the project forced the grand opening of the new atrium back. The new addition opened in December of 2007. The Central Library is home to the Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room, which houses a collection of archival manuscripts and autographed editions from some of the area’s most famous literary minds, including Kurt Vonnegut, James Whitcomb Riley, and Booth Tarkington.   

📸: Alex Miller, Communications Coordinator


7. Hirschman-Bryan House

Indianapolis, Indiana

Andrea Bryan’s great-grandfather, Conrad Hirschman, was born in 1854 in Wurttemberg, Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1880.  He built this house for his wife, Emma, and their children, one of which was Andrea’s grandmother, Ursula. She married and lived in this house her entire life (after her emigration) and all three of her children were born in the back bedroom of the house, one of which was Andrea’s Father.  Ursula’s husband, Andrea’s Grandfather, fought in WWI and came home after the war. He died in the flu epidemic shortly thereafter and my Grandmother never remarried. All three of Ursula’s sons went into the Navy and served in WWII.

The house was built in 1900 at 3100 sq. ft. with an attic, a basement, and a crawl space. The current owner is Angie’s List who used it for office space at one time. There is a plaque inside with the historical information related to Andrea’s family.

📸: Andrea Bryan, Reception and Office Support


8. Indiana University Auditorium

Bloomington, Indiana

The Indiana University Auditorium opened in 1941 as a part of the Federal Works Agency Project. At the time, the country was still recovering from the Great Depression, and most universities were making cuts to their arts programs. Indiana University went in a different direction, building the Lilly Library, the Fine Arts Building, and the Jacobs School of Music; widely regarded as one of the world’s top music schools. The IU Auditorium was the first planned and constructed of this era. It was constructed out of locally quarried Indiana Limestone. The venue seats 3,200 people and has hosted acts from all over the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, the touring troupe of Les Miserables, and Jerry Seinfeld.

📸: Joe Miller, Account Executive


9. Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument is one of the most iconic structures in Indianapolis. The neo-classical obelisk was built over a 13-year period between 1888 and 1902. It was constructed in honor of Hoosier veterans of the American Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War. During the dedication ceremony, a group of musicians played “The Messiah of the Nations,” a piece written for the occasion by the famed composer, John Phillip Sousa. The monument is located at the intersection of Meridian and Market Streets at the center of Downtown Indianapolis. During the holiday season, it is transformed into a giant Christmas tree known as the “Circle of Lights” (pictured), which at 284 ½ feet tall, makes it the tallest Christmas Tree in America each year. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

📸: Joe Miller, Account Executive


10. Gary Aquatorium

Gary, Indiana

The Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium was constructed in 1921. It sits at the southernmost point of Lake Michigan in the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary. It was originally built to serve as a bathroom and changing area for beachgoers but was shut down to the public in 1971 due to a lack of upkeep and disrepair. The building was renovated and reopened as the “Chanute Aquatorium” in the late 1990s and houses a museum honoring the achievements of Octave Chanute, the grandfather of modern flight, and the Tuskegee Airmen. The Gary Aquatorium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

📸: Michele Murday, Northern Indiana Regional Manager


Support Preservation

Other ways you can support National Preservation Month is frequent businesses in historic buildings, such as shopping at your local main street stores, eating at restaurants housed in historic buildings, sharing photos of your favorite historic places with the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters, and when traveling book rooms in historic hotels and visit historic sites.


Environmental Forensics: Why dry cleaners need to know about it


The metaphorical concept of environmental forensics using a magnifying glass to represent the methods used to find out who is responsible for environmental contamination


In my role as President of an environmental consulting firm, I have the opportunity to meet new people and introduce our company to folks outside of the environmental industry. It’s common to get quizzically raised eyebrows from new acquaintances as I tell them that the name of our company is EnviroForensics. The wheels in their heads start turning and I can see they’re attempting to get a grip on what it is that EnviroForensics does.

The word forensics often takes people’s thoughts immediately to their favorite crime show, or even back to Quincy M.E. Personally, I’m a Quincy guy. The use of forensic science is a major part of these shows, as the crime lab scientists tease out the intricacies of the unobvious, and often microscopic facts that lead them to break the case. Environmental Forensics is pretty similar to that. We use scientific intricacies of the unobvious, and often microscopic facts to solve complex environmental who-dunnits.


According to Merriam-Webster, the word forensic literally means “relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems”. In the world of environmental contamination, those who are responsible, and those who are being blamed, are in a legal situation. The liability that gets assigned by environmental regulators, other affected property owners, and perhaps those that have suffered health effects from contact with contamination is a legal liability. In these civil matters, the primary impact of legal liability is money; money to pay for environmental cleanup, money to offset a reduced value of an impacted property or even money to offset health effects or injuries of exposed people.

The risks are high for potentially responsible businesses, which is why a good environmental attorney is necessary for almost every contamination issue. This is also why a good environmental consultant with specific skills and expertise in environmental forensic science, such as subsurface investigation and cleanup, is crucial if you find yourself in the cross-hairs of an environmental contamination problem. So, how do you solve this problem?


Let’s set up an example of a typical scenario, in which a dry cleaner has been identified as a potentially responsible party (PRP) for an environmental contamination issue. Then we can walk through a few ways that environmental forensics will help answer the key questions of the case.

Let’s say that Dry Cleaning Business New (DCBNew) currently owns a property, which they purchased from Dry Cleaning Business Old (DCBOld) in 1990. DCBOld had acquired the property from Dry Cleaning Business Original (DCBOriginal) back in 1980, who had been operating at that same location since 1950.

Let’s also say that DCBNew and DCBOld used Perc as a primary solvent during their entire operation. DCBOriginal used Stoddard hydrocarbon as a primary solvent for ten years, then switched to a Perc machine for the duration of the time they owned the property. Here’s the operational timeline for the example scenario outlined above:

An example timeline of dry cleaning operations and how environmental forensics can uncover who may have contributed to the contamination.
An example timeline of dry cleaning operations illustrates those who may have contributed to the contamination. Even if a dry cleaning business no longer uses perc and has changed out the machines, they can still have liability from historical operations.


Now let’s add some legal liability to this scenario. We’ll say that the owner of a commercial property next door to the dry cleaning business was trying to sell their land, and through their real estate due diligence Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessment, it was discovered that the groundwater beneath their property is impacted with Perc. Immediately, the owner of the adjacent property filed a lawsuit against DCBNew and demanded financial compensation for decreased property value. On top of all this, the state regulatory agency was notified, who has now sent a letter to DCBNew stating that they must investigate and clean up whatever is found, as well as the neighboring property. This is the point where stress starts to run high for DCBNew, and rightfully so because they are now charting into unfamiliar territory with previously unknown legal liability and are under a timeline to meet the investigation and cleanup demands set forth by the state regulatory agency.

If DCBNew had been the only operator at the property ever, it would be pretty clear that they may be the sole responsible party. However, we know that there were two previous dry cleaners, DCBOld and DCBOriginal, who used Perc at the property, and they may bear some responsibility as well.

The first forensic analysis of this situation can be performed without much science at all. An understanding of the history of the dry cleaning industry gives a lot of valuable insight about who is most likely to have contributed the most to the subsurface contamination at the property. Generally speaking, it is more likely that significant releases of Perc would have happened during earlier dry cleaning operations. This is due to three main factors:

  1. The dry cleaning process and equipment improved over the years and less Perc was lost;
  2. The environmental regulations increased over the years that required operators to manage their process more stringently; and
  3. There has been an increasing level of understanding of the environmental hazards associated with Perc usage.

All of these resulted in an overall decreasing trend in new Perc contamination.

The time period when DCBOriginal operated at the property from 1950-1980 corresponds to the First Generation transfer dry cleaning machine process. This process involved a tank of solvent that was used to fill the washing machine and afterward the clothes were physically transferred to the drying process. The First Generation process provided plenty of opportunities for Perc to be spilled or dripped onto the floor and into the ground. It is also possible, however, that DCBOriginal may not have used a transfer machine. This is the type of evidence that comes to light throughout the environmental forensics investigation.

In the example scenario, DCBOriginal also used Stoddard for 10 years (1950-1960), and then switched to Perc. They would have had to buy a new machine around 1960, which was the early days of the Second Generation dry to dry machines. Dry cleaning that used dry to dry machines was a much tighter process, but there were still lots of releases of Perc from the solvent recovery and waste handling procedures.


The example scenario walks through the operational timeline of the dry cleaning businesses to better understand the factors that can affect the outcomes of the environmental contamination case. If DCBOriginal from 1950-1980 released more Perc at the site than DCBOld from 1980-1990, then DCBNew needs to be proactive with this issue and work with their experienced legal and environmental teams to make sure that these former businesses take on as much of the financial and legal burden as they deserve.


Through the use of geological and chemical calculations and measurements, forensic scientists are able to read the site conditions and start to tell when and where the contamination may have originated. When the scientific information is coupled with an understanding of the history of site operations, such as the locations of all former operators’ dry cleaning machines, then the details of environmental releases at the property really start to reveal themselves. This helps create a defensible picture that includes how much contamination was contributed, by which past operator, and how the cleanup costs should be allocated to the responsible parties.

In the example scenario, DCBNew should be cautious about simply blaming all the former operators at the property because they very well may have contributed to the contamination. Even if the dry cleaning business started operating in the 1990s with a Fourth Generation machine, it’s possible that there may have been Perc releases. I’ve seen plenty of cases where a Perc release was found beneath a dry cleaning business and the operation had only been there for two years. Machine maintenance, waste Perc handling practices, contact water handling methods, filter disposal and even spotting procedures are all areas that could cause potential problems.


When a dry cleaner finds themselves staring in the face of an environmental contamination problem, stress can run high. There is a lot at stake. If there are former dry cleaning businesses that operated at the same location, there is a good chance they can be invited as a responsible party.

Ultimately, remember that this is a legal situation. Expert attorneys and scientists should be involved to help navigate the situation. The good news is that if you are able to find old commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies, there could be assets to pay for an expert attorney and an environmental forensic scientist of your choice, also known as, an environmental consultant.

If you’re facing an environmental contamination issue, we’ll help define your next steps with a confidential consultation.

As seen in Cleaner & Launderer

Headshot of Jeff CarnahanJeff Carnahan, LPG, has 20+ years of environmental consulting and remediation experience. His technical expertise focuses on the investigation and interpretation of subsurface releases of hazardous substances for the purpose of evaluating and controlling the risk and cost implications. He has focused on being a partner with the dry cleaning industry for the past decade, and he’s a frequent contributor to the national dry cleaning publication Cleaner & Launderer. He is an industry leader in understanding that environmental risk includes not only cleanup costs, but also known and unknown third-party liability.