WKU Folk Studies graduate student Katherine Chappell is completing an internship in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of the Kentucky Library & Museum. Last semester while conducting research to provide information for a National Register of Historic Places nomination of James Ingram-designed home, she discovered how prolific Ingram’s career as a Bowling Green architect truly had been. He designed well over a thousand homes, schools, and businesses in and around the city from the 1930’s through the mid-1950s. Thanks to a donation made by his widow, Ruby Stephens Ingram, the Kentucky Library & Museum is home to nearly 1200 sets of his architectural drawings.
Since January, Chappell has been working to catalog some of these drawings and adding them to a publicly accessible online database. She has also transcribed a 1982 interview with Ingram’s widow, in which Ruby Stephens Ingram talks about her husband’s career, many of the people he worked with, and how he felt about the buildings he designed. Chappell has sought out many of the Ingram-designed homes still standing in Bowling Green to match new photographs with the archival drawings and to reveal how influential, long lasting, and popular his designs were in the area. One of her most exciting moments was contacting Ingram’s grandson to let him know that his grandfather’s work is still known and appreciated. Thanks to her work in this internship, she was recently awarded one of three Russell M. and Mary Z Yeager Graduate Scholarships.
Chappell is currently designing the content for a new website to honor Ingram and to showcase his prolific local career. Included will be excerpts from Ruby Stephens Ingram’s interview, some representative samples of his drawings and photographs of the completed buildings, research on Ingram by former WKU students, and more. Chappell would be interested in hearing from you if you live in an Ingram-designed home or have your own Ingram memories to share. To see records created for the Ingram drawings search under his name in KenCat.