Both Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler studied in Europe under some of the most eminent artists of their day. They actually met and fell in love in Europe while taking a class instructed by William Merritt Chase. Mrs. Wheeler (1878-1970) came from the prominent Drake family, who were also artists and art critics living in New York City. Mr. Wheeler worried about his new wife's reaction of moving to Indiana, but the couple sited their new home on a hill overlooking nearby Pleasant Run stream and Ellenberger Woods. Both used the bucolic settings for their art. The following photo, taken in May of 1913, is the oldest known of the dwelling.
|Wheeler Home, May 1913|
|Architectural plans for the home--May, 1912|
In early September 1913, Lucille Morehouse, a local art critic for the Indianapolis Star, visited the Wheeler home and spent time in the gallery room. The Wheelers asked their architect to design a large space to serve as a studio and classroom. Mr. Hoagland placed a tall door on the westside of the house so that large canvases could be easily moved in or out. He also placed four tall windows facing Lowell Avenue so that the artists could receive light from the north. Ms. Morehouse wrote of the gallery on September 7 (page 36):
One could spend a week there taking barely enough time to eat and sleep and still not be able to see everything in it.
|Side gallery door|
She also reported that there are color studies and paintings large and small. The journalist noted and gushed about the large collection of Japanese prints, the small sketchbooks filled with ideas, and the plethora of paintbrushes and tubes of oils. Ms. Morehouse seemed completely enchanted by not only the studio, but also of Mr. Wheeler. He is not yet 30 years old! Mrs. Wheeler gets little mention in the lengthy biopic.
The Wheelers would have no trouble recognizing their former home. The house has been lovingly and superbly restored to its former grandeur. The historic photos, architectural plans, and historical information are courtesy of Bruce and Michele Oertel. More information will be forthcoming on this interesting dwelling and of the families who have called it home. Stay tuned!
|Wheeler Home in Summer of 2012|