When I attend Noblesville Preservation Alliance’s annual Community Summer Picnic, I feel a sense of contentment that I live in a neighborhood that I love.
That’s Old Town Noblesville, where most neighbors know each other. And if they don’t, they’re quick to introduce themselves.
I remember when I moved here 24 years ago. Many of the neighbors stopped by to welcome me. They brought homemade treats, a smile and a good feeling that I could count on them if the need ever be there.
I was invited to a neighborhood gardening club, a progressive dinner party and even a block party that first summer. Neighbors have come and gone but new and old ones still wave or say hello when they’re out bicycling, walking or gardening.
NPA still tries to instill that wonderful neighborhood feel with their Summer Picnic, in its fourth year. The picnic is this 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Sunday.
Usually it’s at Seminary Park in Old Town Noblesville. But this year, it moves to Forest Park, Shelter No. 3, due to upcoming construction at Seminary Park.
Forest Park has great history, including the interurban shelter restored by the NPA in 2017.
With the change in venue, picnic guests can advantage of a playground, miniature golf, volleyball and carousel rides. The Allan Herschell Co. “Little Beauty” Carousel was built in circa 1925.
NPA will provide food and drinks. Just bring any other beverage you would like (or like to share). While seating is available at the picnic shelter, you might want to bring your own lawn chairs.
In past years, NPA members grill hamburgers and hot dogs and invite attendees to meet their neighbors.
NPA does a lot of good in our community, preserving our historic architecture for more than 30 years of the nonprofit’s existence.
“We initially decided to have the picnic to bring people together that were familiar with the NPA,” said Brian Landress, an NPA member who’s helping to plan the picnic. “Initial participation was typically NPA members and the NPA board.”
About 25 people attended the first picnic, which was potluck, everybody bringing a dish.
“In our second year, the board decided it was important to increase community focus and awareness of the NPA,” Landress said. “In addition, this was the same year (2017) the city contemplated selling Seminary Park to a developer.”
He said, “Using Seminary Park productively with a large event (NPA’s Summer Picnic) was one way the NPA could show the city not only the historic relevance of the park but also the usefulness.”
Landress said, “From there, the event idea grew into having an NPA-funded event that provided both food and activities. The board felt this not only provided NPA visibility but also was a way to give back to the community, as we feel many who come out to enjoy the benefit of a meal they otherwise would need to pay for (or prepare themselves at home).”
This approach has worked over the past three years “to keep the event fresh and interesting while maintaining focus on the core reasons for doing it,” he said.
In the second and third years of the picnic, attendance ranged from 100 to 175. “We are hoping for similar attendance this year,” Landress said.
The picnic on Sunday is open to the community, to come share NPA’s community spirit and meet your neighbors. Feel free to bring friends and visiting relatives. The only agenda is to have fun and get to know our neighbors better. NPA only asks that those planning to attend to RSVP at www.noblesville preservation.com, so they have an accurate count for food.
To its members, who are volunteers at the picnic, preserving architecture is about more than buildings but has a good balance of residential and commercial development and a focus on a culture that stresses healthy living and a vibrant city with neighborhoods that have their own unique identity.
NPA is most known for its Tour of Historic Homes each fall, this year on Sept. 21 in Old Town Noblesville. The 33rd annual tour, typically from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., always starts at the Hamilton County Museum of History and Old Sheriff’s Residence & Jail on the southwest side of the Courthouse Square, and features historic buildings and homes in Old Town. I always look forward to checking out the list of tour homes each year.
If you attended the 2019 Darlington Bed Race benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville on May 31, you might recall NPA’s Team Harrell Hospital & Sanitorium, 1909-1951, which played on the theme of the historic Noblesville hospital with a patient riding in the bed pushed by costumed runners dressed in white lab coats. While NPA wasn’t the fastest in the race, the entry earned the team the People’s Choice award for the third consecutive year. The NPA team in Noblesville Preservation Alliance’s Team Harrell Hospital & Sanitorium, 1909-1951, played on the theme of the historic Noblesville hospital with a patient riding in the bed pushed by costumed runners dressed in white lab coats. While NPA wasn’t the fastest in the race, the entry earned the team the People’s Choice award for the third consecutive year. The NPA team in 2017 took the People’s Choice, with its maids and butlers pushing a Victorian lady on a canopy bed, and in 2018 took the People’s Choice, reminiscent of the Gay Nineties, or 1890s, with costumed runners in old-fashioned bathing suits, pushing a bathing beauty in a boat.
I applaud NPA for being a part of the race, because it’s a great way to promote the organization for people new to our community.
NPA, for its second year, will present Lights Over Seminary Park, a walkable, holiday lights display that focused on history and featuring vintage decorations, with a special opening program on Dec. 6.
NPA on Dec. 14 will present a Christmas Tour during which guests can visit Old Town historic homes decorated for the holidays. Before that, NPA had holiday lights driving tours that would lead visitors throughout Old Town.
In 2018, NPA partnered with Hamilton County Television and Logan Street Sanctuary to present and preserve memories from Noblesville’s past to present with Noblestories, a program that gave Noblesville residents a glimpse into the City’s past through the eyes of people who have lived here the longest.
For members of NPA, there are lots of members-only activities. One of the gatherings set for the fall is a bonfire and hot dog roast at a member’s home in October. In the past, they’ve gathered at band concerts at Federal Hill Commons in Noblesville, had family game night, movie night and other get-togethers.
I hope we continue to see more events and activities that bring awareness to the NPA and all of the good things that the organization and its volunteers stand for in our community.
Not an NPA member? Join at www.noblesvillepreservation.com
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.