Friday, August 17, 2012

Back Home Again In Indiana: I.U., Pt. 1

Heading south from Fairmount, I entered full nostalgia mode when I checked into the Indiana Memorial Union Hotel. Located in the heart of my alma mater, Indiana University, not only was it a primo location for me to take photographs, but it's also a beautifully appointed hotel. The building that houses the hotel is really the heart of the campus. Containing restaurants, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and more, the Indiana Memorial Union is where I spent the last year of my college "career," as the Advertising Director for the student run programming board. That experience gave me more job skills than all of my classes put together.

The Union building is approximately 5 blocks long, if I remember my facts correctly (it's been over 25 years!).

My room was clean, comfortable, and COOOOOOL. It was an oasis when I returned from my camera sojourns, dripping in sweat from the hot July temperatures that were plaguing the entire state. And let's not forget the humidity!

Besides being a fun place to hang out, the Union also contains a diverse collection of art pieces, strewn throughout the many halls, cubby holes, and meeting rooms.

Alumni Hall, shown here, was about to be closed down for a massive restoration. It was here that I attended the annual Madrigal Dinners every Christmas season.

The Tudor Room is an elegant restaurant where students get their parents to take them for Sunday Brunch as a delightful diversion from the typical cafeteria fare served in the dorms!

I have yet to see a college that compares in beauty to I.U.; sure, I'm biased, but the design is so well coordinated throughout the entire campus. The Union building is a gem all on its own, and gives guests the feeling that they are wandering through an ancient (but well-maintained) castle. I used to take these steps up to my office every day.

I have posted about one of my very favorite films, "Breaking Away," already; on this trip back to Bloomington, I decided to shoot some of the locations that were used in the actual filming of the movie. Here in the Union was the huge fight scene when "The Cutters" (the locals) had it out with the students:

It's much cleaner today! Sadly, the cool vintage light fixtures are gone.

The nearby Bowling Alley was used in a brief scene right before the fight. Director Peter Yates learned that the Union was doing a large renovation in the area that was being used for the fight scene right after filming. He received permission to do some heavy damage during the fight to assist in the demolition needed for the renovation!

Another hidden gem inside the Union is the Federal Room, which I had never heard about until I'd been at the University for three years.

The Federal Room is an extremely elegant formal sitting and dining room used for very special occasions. I had the pleasure of dining here a few times, thanks to my association with Union Board.

The Rose Well House was built in 1908 from stone door gates that were originally part of the old College Building and located near the I.M.U., designed in the shape of a Beta Theta Pi fraternity pin.

According to campus legend, a female student isn't a true college co-ed until she is kissed in the Well house at midnight, and any couple who kisses in the Rose Well House at midnight on Valentine's Day will be together forever.

The Rose Well House was used as the backdrop for the scene were Dave (Dennis Christopher) tells his girlfriend (played by Robyn Douglass) that he really isn't Italian. Apparently, Robynn didn't fake the slap. Ouch!

Beck Chapel also borders the I.M.U. Completed in 1956, it is made of Indiana Limestone and wood from the forests of South Central Indiana. Beck Chapel is non-denominational and open to everyone, especially those who want a storybook setting for their wedding.

Just outside the doors of the chapel is the Dunn Family Cemetery. Apparently, three of the Dunn sisters who helped Washington and his troops are buried here.

I had the pleasure of knowing Doris Seward, a relative of the Dunn family. She was one of the mentors for Union Board, and what a character she was! Always dressed to the nines and wearing some of the most outrageous (yet stylish!) hats, she called one room in her house the "Instant Party Room," and kept it ready for unexpected guests that dropped by. Her tombstone was pre-carved with her birth year and the first two digits of her death year; she gave instructions to have the "20" stricken if she didn't make it into the next century. Unfortunately, she just missed it, but the carvers carried out her instructions and added the quote, "She was an optimist" to explain the stricken numbers. What a great lady! I can still see her warm smile.

See more vintage and current Indiana University photos on my Bloomington, Indiana web page.


Connie Moreno said...

Wow what an AMAZING place!!! I love it!

Unknown said...

As a fellow Hoosier, I just love this post and all the pics! Brought back some great memories!

Anonymous said...

I can't recall a more beautiful experience than dining in the Tudor Room with family and friends while snow fell outside the great window. The Indiana Memorial Union was/is just simply the best!