Sunday, February 13, 2011

Argos Izaak Walton League

Part 3 and last of a series on the Argos Izaak Walton League

New Deal Assistance
In 1934 the club deeded the newly obtained 15 acres to the United States Bureau of Fisheries in order to take advantage of federally assisted projects to communities across the nation which provided work for the unemployed. This would enable the construction of a clubhouse and additional fish ponds under President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The agency immediately constructed two new ponds west of the original ponds. The club began planning the clubhouse in 1934 and determined the various types and materials to be used for construction.

The construction of the clubhouse began in 1935 and continued through 1937. Historical records of the club document the excavation of the basement and pouring of concrete foundations and basement walls in 1935 and work being rushed in 1936 but not resulting in the finish of the interior. Regardless, the club began to use the building in 1935 for meetings. The list of requirements for the building included a basement with kitchen, dining room, and toilet room, and main floor for club activities. The building was “to be of timber frame construction veneered with native stone and two fireplaces (one on each level) also of native stone”. Although the building was wired for electricity, members used gas lamps and oil stoves since no lines had been extended to that rural location. The federal project constructed two additional ponds on the property in 1935, one on the north and south sides of the clubhouse. The driveways and stone gateway were also begun “which made possible access to club functions, fish fries, and various social gatherings”. A 1935 article in the Argos Reflector stated that a crew of 60 men was working at the fish hatchery site for the creation of new ponds. The same issue of the paper announced the taking of new enrollment for CCC camps in Marshall County. The age limit for junior enrollees was lowered to 17, making qualifying ages 17-25.

The town of Argos was the recipient of other New Deal work. According to the Argos Reflector, September 5, 1935, eighteen men, 47 laborers and a truck driver from the community began work in the town limits. An additional seven to eight men were expected to be employed after certification from the South Bend office (in May, 1934 Marshall County was placed under the South Bend district for coordination of New Deal projects) . The work performed included raising and leveling sidewalks, new sidewalks, construction of a water main, and relaying four blocks of brick pavement. Unskilled labor was paid $44 per month for 130 hours of work. State Road 10 was improved in 1936 and additional brick pavement was installed in town in 1937. New Deal work in Argos also included improvements to sewers and the enlargement of the town park from 1935-1939, cemetery improvements in 1936, construction of the Boy Scout Cabin in 1934 , school improvements in 1936-1937, construction of a library in 1934, and funding for the sewing and music programs in 1939. The town rescinded funding for the construction of a new town hall in 1937.

The architectural styling of New Deal projects tended to fall into one of two contexts: urban/residential and rural. Post offices, libraries, and municipal buildings tended to follow more refined architectural styles such as Colonial and Classical Revivals because of their placement in the urban or developing residential contexts. However, since much work was carried out in natural park settings under the program, a great number of New Deal work enlisted the use of natural materials, including readily available native stone, for the desired aesthetic of a natural appearance in their setting. Often the public works projects in Northern Indiana used native glacial granite fieldstone for building materials. In other parts of the state other locally quarried or available material was used such as limestone or sandstone. The materials were then adapted and configured into an architectural style often identified as Craftsman, a term that truly embodies the artisans and other workers whose hands are evident in construction.

The Argos Izaak Walton League clubhouse exhibits this desire for a natural aesthetic perfectly. Likely with their own interests in conservation and love for the environment, club members chose native field stone as the primary building material used for the construction of their clubhouse. The building has the appearance of a natural piling of glacial boulders. The use of native stone provides the aesthetic of the building being part of its surroundings as though it grew out of the land it occupies. Its walls and posts are larger at their base than their tops by the use of larger stones at the base and the gradual use of smaller stones as the mason laid the stones upward. Craftsmen were clearly utilized to create the stacked, tapered stone appearance and in the careful execution of doorway and fireplace openings. The building employs the use of a jack arch composed of individual stones over its main entry and a stone covered barrel vaulted shelter over its basement entry. The stone fireplaces inside also have stone arranged in a thoughtful design with individual stone voussoirs forming arches over their openings. Wood shingles are installed in the gabled ends of the building and in the faces of the porch roof’s sides, a continuation of the selection of natural materials. The building also once had exposed roof rafter tails but a new roof installation covered the rafter ends with fascia. This artful assemblage of materials exhibits the Craftsman style well.

The Argos Izaak Walton League clubhouse is constructed similarly to two other Marshall County buildings. The Conservation Clubhouse at Magnetic Park, Plymouth is similar in both plan and use of stone, and the Conservation Clubhouse at the Lake of the Woods, is also similar in its use of stone (both are New Deal projects).

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