Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Artist Moves Into the Johnson Home--1974

When Carol Kappel moved into the "Castle House," as it was affectionately called by the locals, she and her then husband, Jerry, had their work cut out for them.  The beautiful but drafty home had not been updated in years and time had not been kind to the house. Besides restoring the home, the Kappels would also have to furnish the place.  Ms. Kappel reported that she had moved into the home from a small apartment and would spend the next seventeen years adding period furniture and other antiques, some of which came from a beloved grandmother's home in New Albany, Indiana.

Maintaining and restoring such a home required an income so during the day the talented artist worked for an ad agency.  She noted that most of her best personal art came after she moved out of the house in 1991.  She had little time to create while living in the Johnson Home because she was busy raising a family and restoring the place.

In the summer of 1975, Pegg Kennedy, a journalist for the Indianapolis News, along with photographer Bob Doeppers visited the Kappels for a story.  They took several shots of the young couple.  In the top photo, Carol Kappel sat in the formal parlor surrounded by 1970s-era furniture that had been in her previous apartment.  She would later transfer this room back into a beautiful Victorian gathering place.  In the second photo, Jerry Kappel stands in the formal entryway.  At some point, previous owners added arches, a popular architectural feature from the 1920s through the 1940s.  A future owner, Toni James, removed the arches and replaced them with historic squared bays and transoms.

Carol Kappel (5631 University Avenue) posed for this photo in the summer of 1975 for the Indianapolis News. Photo credit:  Bob Doeppers

Jerry Kappel stood in the entryway of 5631 University Avenue in the summer of 1975, Photo Credit:  Bob Doeppers

5631 University Avenue in the summer of 1975, photo credit:  Bob Doeppers

As for Carol Kappel, she later went on to become an award-winning artist.  She won a Clio and has been featured in various art publications and exhibitions.  Two of her pieces included the Johnson Home.  They can be seen below.  She notes, "I have always seen life as a seamless mural of vibrance and sadness, great beauty and sordid ugliness, tragedy and comedy."

Exit From "Ugly Gables," mixed media by Carol Kappel

Johnson Home by Carol Kappel, 1991

The historic images and art are courtesy of Carol Kappel.  More information for this post came from: Pegg Kennedy, "Johnson House Challenge to Young Married Couple," Indianapolis News, August 13, 1975.


  1. I remember this house... my Aunt and Uncle owned it in the 60's early 70's. Their names were Betty and Art Cooney

  2. Kelley, I would love to feature the Cooneys on this blog as I have heard of them! If you have any photos or could put me in touch with someone who does then drop me a note at Thanks so much for your post. Bill