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Merry McGuire Christmas

December 11, 2023

McGuire Studio Inc., owned and operated by Joseph and Georgia McGuire, documented the built environment, businesses, people, and events around greater Indianapolis from the 1960s-1990s. Their body of work has been archived as the Joseph and Georgia McGuire Photograph Collection at the Indiana Historical Society. They took many iconic photos of aerial views and landmarks around the city, but some of my favorite photos from this vast collection are those taken during the holiday season. They capture the vibrancy of Christmas in Indianapolis.

As a child of the 1980s, these photographs are especially nostalgic for me, from Christmas decorations to special holiday trips to downtown Indianapolis. They bring back visual memories from my childhood that we didn’t document with the ever-present camera phones we have now.

One such memory was my first trip to the “Circle of Lights” at Monument Circle in 1985. I attended the lighting of the monumental “tree” with family friends who treated me to a magical (but cold) carriage ride after. McGuire Studio Inc. captured many years of the “Circle of Lights” as part of their commercial photography work, from quiet snowy nights to crowds at the annual lighting of the monument.

“Circle of Lights,” 1985, IHS

Another landmark that the McGuires captured over the years was Union Station. The historic railroad station was reimagined as a “festival marketplace” in 1986 and I have a wonderful holiday memory of visiting that year. There were so many unique shops to peruse, a wide range of restaurants, and even an outdoor ice-skating rink on the Meridian Street overpass of the tracks! The Union Station skating rink only lasted one year, as the Pan Am Plaza rinks opened in 1987, but the memory of skating with my childhood friend has stayed with me.

Union Station, 1986, IHS

As part of their stock photography work, the McGuires shot decorated Christmas scenes in their home and studio on Pennsylvania Street: a roaring fire in the fireplace, a staircase festooned with garland, and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

McGuire Home, Circa 1985, IHS

The photo that stands out most to me is the Christmas tree anchored by a display of toys, including one of the most popular toys of the 1980s: the Cabbage Patch Doll!

McGuire Home, Circa 1985, IHS

The Indiana Historical Society has many photo collections that represent different eras in Indiana’s history, but the McGuire Photograph Collection probably resonates the most with my memories of experiencing the holidays as a child growing up in central Indiana. Explore more holiday photos from the McGuire Photographs Collection here.

The author, Kathy Mulder, Ice Skating at Union Station, 1986

Kathy Mulder works in Digital Collections at IHS. She first became interested in history while tagging along with her grandmother who was a docent in historic Madison, Indiana.

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