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November / December 2011

Evansville Living

The Ford Center

It’s not enough to describe the sleek curves and artistic angles of the new, gleaming $127.5 million Ford Center at the corner of Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It is a marvel that must be seen. Generous glass windows reflect surrounding Downtown venues such as the Centre and the Victory Theatre, instilling a sense of place.

Out With the Old

A photo comparison of Roberts Stadium (left column) and the Ford Center (right column).

By The Numbers

•  290,000 Total square feet at the Ford Center. •  127.5 Million of dollars for the design and construction of the arena. •  0 Dollars from property taxes used to build the arena. •  8 Camera positions to broadcast basketball games. •  9,400 Seats available for a hockey game. •  10,000 Seats available for a basketball game.

Where to Eat Now

Main Gate Sports Bar & Restaurant – 520 Main St. Less than 0.1 miles from the Ford Center Opened specifically to capitalize on the attention the new arena might bring, the aptly named Main Gate — with a typical bar-food menu — sits across from the Ford Center’s primary entrance. Milano’s Italian Cuisine – 500 Main St. 0.1 miles from the Ford Center This dynamic Italian restaurant is perfect for romantic dates or large groups.

A Cincinnati Cheer

The Cincinnati Bengals did not have the best NFL season last year. They had two talented wide receivers, whom sports writers loved to call divas, yet the professional football team floundered, which caused the fan base to shout the team slogan “Who dey?” much less. “Who dey?” comes from the Bengals’ successful seasons in the 1980s. The rowdier fans are in Paul Brown Stadium, the more likely the opposing fans are to hear “Who dey?”

The Patriot

On the right side of his vest is one of the most important patches Jack Miller wears: an eagle, wings outstretched as if descending upon prey. In its claws is a banner that reads, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All.” He’s one of 171 who wear this patch on their black, biker-style vest that represents Evansville’s Rolling Thunder, a national organization that educates the public on the prisoner of war/missing in action issues.

Winter Workouts

The holiday season offers such tempting fare as sweet potato casserole (460 calories and 16 grams of fat per seven ounce serving), pecan pie (500 calories and 27 grams of fat per slice), and eggnog (300 calories and 17 grams of fat per cup, and that doesn’t even include the rum). The options are plentiful enough to propagate this myth: The average adult gains five to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Maybe not, says Dr. Anne Butsch of Evansville Integrative Medicine.

Where the Heart Is

Nearly 30 years ago, Newburgh, Ind., resident and artist Becky Geis opened a studio in her basement. She taught would-be creators the art of decorative painting. Four years later, in 1986, she relocated the studio to a house at 121 Plum St., and Heart of Newburgh was born. A budding entrepreneur, Geis purchased items such as candles, pottery, and local artist-made decorative pieces to sell at her classes. Soon, she dedicated the front two rooms to retail.

A Museum Moment

Stepping into the McJohnston-Orr house in the Riverside Historic District is like visiting a museum. Victorian décor and well-placed, quality antiques enhance the home’s Italianate architectural style down to the smallest detail. Even the hallway joining the front living area to the kitchen has been faux painted to mimic the appearance of warm, flickering candlelight reflecting on the original plaster.

A Pie to Try

Fall. The season between the one I love and the one I hate. Perfection. Beauty. Dull. Drab. All describe the three months of the year between late September and mid-December. When I think about the first crisp, cold snap, I smell cinnamon, spicy nutmeg, caramel apples, and the sweet richness of pumpkin blended with the buttery flakiness of a homemade pie crust. Comfort is a warm, freshly baked pie.

The Immortal

In 2009, the Time Out Lounge looked like it belonged in the 1980s. The longtime bar in the even longer-time Executive Inn was architecturally on its last leg. Officials from the City of Evansville were eyeing it for demolition to make room for a new ballyhooed arena. Kerry Chesser, then Time Out’s manager, left and took the concept with him to a longtime restaurant spot in the even longer-time Washington Square Mall.

Bake Mates

In a quaint strip mall on the West Side is a cupcakery, the Pacetré Bake and Brew. Owned and operated by Evansville natives Judy Pace and her two daughters Kelly and Tracy, the Pacetré offers a whimsical selection of cupcakes in a cozy space that fills with the sweet aroma of cake batter and brewed coffee.

The Grace of Detours

Leaving Evansville was the best thing I ever did. Until I came back. I arrived in 1987, fleeing a managerial job in Atlanta that no more suited me than being a deep-sea diver. Unlike any other place I’ve lived, this stretch of the Ohio River Valley became my true home. The river, lush medley of vegetation, and people who became my friends — all embraced me like a grandmother’s quilt. Many beautiful connections, the tendrils of a sweet-flowered vine, made this the one place that could beckon me back.

Editor's Letter

Excitement on Main Street

I’m pretty darn excited about the Ford Center. Our entire magazine staff is thrilled about it. For the past few weeks, conversations have begun, “Have you been in the Ford Center?” Tons of folks have; an estimated crowd of 6,000 attended the Oct. 23 grand opening of the gleaming Downtown arena that promises to change Evansville’s music, sports, and Downtown landscapes.

Chew On This

Chew On This

J. Gumbo’s (1211 N. Tutor Lane) opened on the corner of Burkhardt and Vogel roads. The gumbo, jambalaya, bumblebee stew, and other Cajun and Creole classics are available in this fast-casual Evansville location. Founder Billy Fox Jr. uses the same ingredients and spices as his grandmother did back in Grand Coteau, La. … Salad World (200 Main St.) opened its third Evansville location on the corner of Main and Second streets.

Check It Out

The First Ten

Vernon Jordan is a strikingly tall man. When he enters a room, people notice. Evelyn Walker learned this in 2001 when she convinced Jordan to speak in Evansville. Her request came in support of One Book One Community, a reading program that used a book to ignite conversation in a community and then brought the author to town for a speaking engagement. Walker, then the associate director of the local public library system, heard the idea through a cousin and loved the concept.

A Gingerbread House for the Homeless

The National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, N.C., has a simple premise: Turn a sugar and spice treat into a showcase event. Southern Living loves the festivity that brings 200 holiday masterpieces into one room. The gingerbread houses show a dedication to detail such as the gingerbread dragon scaling a castle or the onion domes and neo-gothic skyscrapers in a delicious-looking Russian street.

Away in a Manger

In a nativity scene, the pieces are always the same: Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in a manger. The same scene depicts the same holiday, Christmas, every December, but as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discovered in 2003, so many different expressions of that religious scene exist.

Magic’s Power

Four years ago, Don Baggett had something up his sleeve that would help Vanderburgh County Court Appointed Special Advocates. Baggett’s wife Theresa serves as vice president of the board of directors for the nonprofit organization. The couple thought a magic show could garner more attention for CASA’s mission: to aid all physically or sexually abused, neglected, or abandoned children in court.

Cheap Eats

A Polished Look

It’s not that the look of Los Tres Caminos is unique compared to most other Mexican restaurants — it has the aesthetically pleasing mix of colors throughout the interior that creates the atmosphere of an Americanized Cinco de Mayo fiesta — but there is a certain crispness to the Evansville restaurant worth noting. Although more than nine months old, Los Tres looks brand new—clean and polished.

Encyclopedia Evansvillia

The Consolidate Debate

The current debate over the consolidation of city and county governments sounds oddly familiar to people who can recall Evansville in 1959 and J. William Davidson. Former city controller “Bill” Davidson was sworn into office as mayor of the city on Dec. 4, 1958, after Vance Hartke’s election to the U.S. Senate. Davidson was not only the first Catholic mayor but also the first to be sworn in on TV (at the WTVW studio).

Digging In

Holiday Home

When my wife and I decorate for the holiday season, we incorporate plants into the design. Not everything comes from our garden because we like to use a mix of fresh-cut evergreens with berries and various dried elements. Here, holiday decorating tips:

Art Talk

Pirouettes and Tutus

Evansville Dance Theatre closed its doors in March 2011 after 30 years serving Evansville’s art community. Despite the loss of this institution, Evansville has no lack of opportunity for young dancers. Here’s a closer look at five local studios offering training for a variety of students. Whether a youth’s interest is recreational, fitness-oriented, arts-inspired, or professional, the city is well equipped to serve a host of eager feet.


The Big Switch

Mike Riley and Doug Padgett have been management leaders at WEHT Channel 25 for the better part of nearly four decades. Running a business side by side for so long might force some people into neutral corners once the workday ends. Not these two. Padgett and Riley are best friends. They fish and golf together. Their families are close. Padgett and his wife, Kathy, were among the people closest to Riley’s wife, Brenda, during her battle with ovarian cancer. She passed away in 2008.

Hoops House

Marty Simmons was a stud basketball player. The 6-foot-5-inch forward came to the University of Evansville in 1985 after transferring from Indiana University. Simmons, a former Illinois high school star, was talented enough for a big-time program. IU certainly fit that bill. By the mid-1980s, the Hoosiers already had two national championships under Bobby Knight, but the controversial coach had a series of run-ins with Simmons.


Ron Snodgrass

Ron Snodgrass works with mirrors, not glass. His work varies from the contemporary to the abstract. Snodgrass’ pieces are sometimes functional mirrors masquerading as art. He often uses colored mirrors for wall hangings, tables, pedestals, or partitions. Mirrors cover the walls in the bathroom inside his Evansville studio and gallery (1324 N. Fares Ave.). The ceiling, too, is an arrangement of mirrored pieces placed precisely. It is no funhouse. It is art.

The Lion, the Frenchman, and the Museum

In a naturally lit alcove, on the second floor of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science, are a group of wild animals forever caught in natural poses — biting at an itch, violently killing, and devouring prey.

A New Habit

Somewhere in the middle of the 2011 summer, Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel hosted a media tour at the new arena under construction. Reporters gathered with cameras, digital recorders, and notepads. He pointed to features worth noting such as the 20-foot ceiling that is near the arena’s entrance that is large enough, Weinzapfel said, for the circus elephants to comfortably walk under.


Playing Dress-Up

Pinned with tacks on the walls of the University of Evansville’s design conference room are old photographs — black-and-white images of a 1950s tearoom from the play Master Harold … And the Boys intermingle with portraits of barelegged strippers. These photos serve one purpose in the UE theatre department: inspiration.


Making Memories

Margaret Haire loves to give new life to old materials. When she and husband Dennis built their East Side home nearly 25 years ago, they re-used brick, pecan floorboards, and yellow long-leaf heart pine beams (recreated as flooring) salvaged from the old Audubon Hosiery Mill in Henderson, Ky. Their sun porch is partially furnished with Margaret’s grandmother’s mint-condition, white patio set. In the den is a stained glass window retrieved from Dennis’ childhood church prior to the building’s demolition.

Online Exclusives

Link Up

To show how stories in our Nov/Dec 2011 issue fit into the broader context of world events, this edition of Link Up brings the Internet to you. No Google search required.

Joyeux Noël

Recently, Editor Kristen K. Tucker learned to cook a 5-course French Christmas dinner — in Wisconsin. Under the direction of Chef Scott Baker of L’ecole de la Maison, a cooking school at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, eight enthusiastic participants learned how to go from casual cook to executive chef in just one four-hour culinary journey. According to Baker, the proper planning and procurement of ingredients make all the difference.

A Battle With Pan Can

On Sept. 15, 2003, John Harris experienced the worst pain he had ever felt in his life. It unrelentingly stabbed at his back and stomach. He went to the emergency room where a doctor injected a pain medication into Harris’ screaming torso. Four shots later, the pain had not subsided. Dr. Scott Watkins ordered a CT scan. Upon seeing the results, Watkins walked into Harris’ hospital room in Henderson, Ky. He passed Harris’ wife and son, keeping his eyes on the floor, Harris recalls, until he reached the window.