Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beautiful Renditions of Butler's Irvington Campus in 1923 by Thomas Hibben

Thomas E. Hibben, Jr. (1893-1950) grew up in a beautiful Italianate villa on Downey Avenue across from the Bona Thompson Library.  (The Thompsons had also lived in the very same house before the Hibbens.)  The Hibben family had many talented artists, architects, and teachers living under the same roof.  Young Tom, who grew up near the Butler University campus, likely spent many childhood hours in the lovely setting with his Irvington friends.  His father was an artist and likely encouraged his love of art and architecture.  He later studied engineering and architecture at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and in Europe.

He returned to Indianapolis and served as architect and draftsman.  In the 1920s, he was awarded the contract to design several of the buildings on the new Butler campus at the Fairview site.  Before embarking on that journey, he spent time in 1923 rendering these lovely images of the small college just off Emerson Avenue.  The artwork would be published in the Drift, the Butler yearbook.  In the 1930s, he left Indiana for Washington DC where he worked for the Roosevelt administration designing affordable homes.  He also served the country as an advisor on engineering subjects in the Philippines and the Caribbean.  In his final post, Mr. Hibben traveled to Pakistan (Western Pakistan in 1950) as an ambassador to that region.  He was a long way from the tree-lined meandering streets of his boyhood home.  Tragically, he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1950 at the age of 58 in the city of Karachi.  More posts will be forthcoming on this talented Irvington architect, artist, engineer, and ambassador.  He designed several homes in the Irvington area, including a beautiful Tudor Revival for his sister Helene along Pleasant Run Parkway.





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