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A live weekly radio adventure through Indiana history with host Nelson Price. Airs live on Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET at WICR 88.7 fm in Indianapolis.

You can listen to WICR anywhere on your mobile device or at home on your smart speaker. Go to www.wicronline.org to listen live. You can also ask your smart speaker to "play WICR" OR "play 88.7 the Diamond".

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April 15, 2023

Ask Nelson and Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, too

As Hoosier History Live salutes spring, we will have another in our periodic series of call-in shows. During these shows, listeners are invited to call in with questions or insights about any aspects of Indiana's heritage. As a bonus, our host, Nelson Price, is joined by a co-host; they interview each other in between fielding the phone calls.

To celebrate spring, who better to join Nelson than our favorite gardening expert, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Indianapolis-based writer, editor and speaker known as the "Hoosier Gardener''. Jo Ellen also is a garden coach and the past president of Garden Comm: Garden Communicators International. Jo Ellen has a free, award-winning newsletter; to subscribe, visit hoosiergardener.com.

Nelson and Jo Ellen will branch out beyond garden-related topics, but those also are planned for the show. Jo Ellen will share insights about an aspect of Indianapolis city history in which she has deep ancestral roots: the concentration of German heritage growers, florists, nursery owners and gardeners on the southside for more than 100 years beginning in the late 1800s.

In 1890, her great-grandfather, a florist, opened a greenhouse on the southside. According to sources quoted in an article that Jo Ellen wrote for Traces, the magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society, at the peak of the German heritage growers in the 1940s, the southside of Indianapolis probably had the largest concentration of greenhouses in the country.

"Peonies, lilies, dahlias, snapdragons, mums and other flowers were grown in fields and greenhouses for the local and the regional wholesale trade, florist shops and street stands," Jo Ellen wrote. "Maple, ash, oak, roses viburnum, evergreens and other trees and shrubs were grown for planting in the landscapes of new homes and commercial buildings, and along the streets for Indianapolis' growing population."

Speaking of commercial buildings, specifically retailers: During our show, Nelson will share insights about an aspect of modern history involving downtown Indianapolis. Circle Centre Mall, which has been in the news as city leaders discuss possibilities for its future, opened in September 1994 at a lavish, black-tie event with fireworks that Nelson covered as a journalist. His visual history book about the city, Indianapolis Then and Now, includes explorations of the mall, such as the use of the historic facades of downtown retailers on its exterior. The mall's development – which dragged on for years and involved a mountain of challenges – was trumpeted as a revival of downtown shopping in the Hoosier capital.

Today, though, there are no flagship department stores as anchors; many analysts regard the departure in 2011 of Nordstrom, an original anchor, as the start of a decline. An article in the Indianapolis Business Journal speculating about Circle Centre's future quoted experts as saying that, rather than attempting to continue primarily as a retail hub, "a successful revamp must include broader uses, which would likely include housing."

The development of Circle Centre was a $319 million project. As Nelson will describe during our show, when planning began, the expectation was that the flagship store of a beloved, locally-owned retailer, L.S. Ayres & Co., would be an anchor. After Ayres was purchased by St. Louis-based May Department Stores Co. (now Macy's Inc.), the company announced Ayres would not be part of the mall, then closed the store. At that point, the fate of Circle Centre became fragile, much as it may be again. For many years, though, the presence of Circle Centre was a selling point for the city as a convention destination, including, as Jo Ellen notes, the 2011 Garden Writers Conference.

Also during our show, Nelson and Jo Ellen will discuss:

  • One of the most well-known and best-selling garden plants is the daylily Stella de Oro. Jo Ellen notes that it was bred by a Hoosier, Walter Jablonski of northwest Indiana, in 1975. "It was a breeding breakthrough in daylilies because it reblooms."

  • The Slippery Noodle Inn is generally considered to be the oldest commercial building in Indianapolis. The tavern, which opened in 1850 and (like Circle Centre) is featured in the Then and Now book by Nelson and photo historian Joan Hostetler. The Inn has been in the news because it recently changed ownership for the first time in 60 years. Nelson will discuss its colorful history and evolution into a popular nightspot for blues music.

  • And the spotted lantern fly, an insect that Jo Ellen has written about because it is a pest and threatening Indiana landscapes. The insect, which originated in China, has reached the state; although the adult spotted lantern fly is beautiful, it is deadly to many plants, as Jo Ellen will discuss.


Primarily, though, this show will provide an opportunity for listeners to call Nelson and Jo Ellen with any questions or comments about our Indiana heritage. The WICR-FM (88.7) studio number to call is 317-788-3314.

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Roadtrip: LC Nature Park in northern Indiana

Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney Lehman of Fort Wayne, an Advanced Indiana Master Naturalist, recommends a visit to a relatively new nature park inAllen County. The LC Nature Park is between Huntington and Fort Wayne in the historic Little River Valley. The area was once the reserve of Chief Akima Neewilenkwanka of the Myaamia (Miami) Nation. This unique park honors the past while protecting its natural features for generations to come.

Terri tells us that, according to the park's Director of Education and Land Stewardship, Dr. George Manning, the area was created by the retreat of the Lake Erie Lobe of the Wisconsin Glacier. And, there is a 5,000 year old sand dune in the middle of LC Nature Park, surrounded by good quality deciduous hardwood forest. Events at the park include Trillium Fest, summer camps for kids, antler roundup, and public hikes.

Listen to Terri on the radio show this Saturday!

Hoosier History Live is an independent production group

Why is Hoosier History Live an outstanding media product? Because we are independent, and we because we make our own business and editorial decisions. We control our quality as best we can. Basically, producer Molly Head makes the business decisions and manages the project. And, she created Hoosier History Live! Host Nelson Price selects and researches the main show topic and guest. And is, of course, the effervescent on-air talent. Where else are you going to learn about history and be entertained all at the same time?

All of our contact information is on our website at www.hoosier history live.org, where you can also sign up for our free weekly enewsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter at Hoosier History Live. Look for our yellow logo to make sure you are at the right place! 

There are ways to help us. Would your business or organization like to offer prizes for the History Mystery on air question? You get an on-air mention by Nelson! Prizes must fit in a standard business envelope, as they are "snail mailed" to winners. Email our producer at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org for more info.

Would your business or library or residence like to have a listening group to listen to the live show on Saturdays noon to one pm? It's a great way to get people involved. All you need is a listening device, such as a laptop or radio or cell phone, and a quiet place with chairs to listen, and someone to facilitate the group. Contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org for advice on setting this up.

Are you a restaurant near the University of Indianapolis on the south side, or is your restaurant downtown? Is your restaurant open Saturdays at 1 pm? Are you willing to offer a place for Nelson and guests to go lunch after the show? If so, please contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

Sometimes the news today is pretty dreary, and American society seems to become more and more fractionalized. Hopefully, as readers, listeners, and fans, you believe that Hoosier History Live is a project worthy of respect and support.    

History Mystery winner Merle Rose attends historic courthouse concert

Attorney Merle Rose said he had tried many cases in the second floor courtroom of the historic Hamilton County Courthouse, which was built between 1877 and 1879, and sits in the middle of the Noblesville town square. So Mr. Rose was pleased to be the big winner of a recent History Mystery trivia contest on Hoosier History Live. He had known that the historic town on the National Road that straddled the Marion and Hancock county line was "Cumberland".

Mr. Rose had received two tickets to the Bicentennial (Hamilton County) Classical Guitar Concert on the evening of April 1 at the historic courtroom. "Judge" Janet Gilray, director of Legacy Keepers Music, held court, and classical guitar musicians Santiago Baptista and Joseph Jones performed.

Further Bicentennial Classical Guitar Series concerts will be held in the historic courtroom on May 6, November 4. and December 2. And, if your group or organization would like to offer History Mystery prizes on Hoosier History Live, contact producer Molly Head at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org. Let's keep making some Hoosier history! 

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We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • Kevin Murray
  • Susan Bielawski in memory of Jane Bielawski
  • Jill Lough Chambers
  • Sandra Hurt
  • Tom Swenson
  • Peggy Hollingsworth
  • Mike Freeland and Sharon Butsch Freeland 
  • Dr. William McNiece
  • Robin Winston
  • Ann Frick
  • James Fadely
  • In memory of William (Bill) Mihay by Bob Wakefield
  • Florence and John Stanton
  • Aleta Hodge
  • Lorraine Phillips Vavul
  • Margaret Smith
  • Jane Hodge
  • Jeff Price

Molly Head, executive producer (317) 506-7164 
Nelson Price, host and historian
Corene Nickel, web designer and tech manager

Richard Sullivan and Ryan DeRome, tech consultants
Cheryl Lamb, administrative manager
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer


Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support!

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Leticia Vasselli, Heather McIntyre, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution at the yellow button on our newsletter or website. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in the show, contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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