Jennifer Shephard
Jennifer Shephard
Jennifer Shephard fell in love with photography in high school. While that was quite awhile ago, she still loves capturing a great moment with her camera.

A bird's eye view of the Prairie Street overpass

Searching for the right vantage point at the start of construction on the Prairie Street overpass led photographers to Church.

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.

From construction to completion, one of the biggest recent changes in the city of Elkhart will be how we negotiate around downtown with the new Prairie Street overpass.

Truth staffers decided we wanted to document the entire process, but how and from where? We knew we wanted to be as high as possible and after a few scouting trips on both ends of Prairie Street the obvious choice was the steeple at St. Vincent de Paul Church. Luckily for us, church historian John Karasch was agreeable to the dirty climb to the top of the steeple.

We made one trip up, but found we needed a different tool to remove the large, louvered window that will become our vantage point. We returned the following day ready for the climb, this time with full gear. Karasch has made the climb countless times and quickly moves up the network of ladders that take you to the top. Chief Photographer Jennifer Shephard made the climb, but will never win a race against Karasch. Hauling camera gear makes the climb just that much more difficult as the space is tight in the steeple built in 1888.

The steeple is hot, but as you reach the top and remove the window a cool breeze fills the tower that holds the large church bell, which was installed in the 1920s. Shephard gets her first clear look out of the window and sees from a bird’s eye view of the city below. As you look north you follow along Main Street with the Post Office and even the six-story Federated Media building that houses The Elkhart Truth. Looking along Prairie Street you see the cleared lots that hosted homes and businesses near Main Street. To the east, you can see to Middlebury Street and the abandoned Middlebury School building at Prairie and Middlebury Streets.

This will be our vantage point for the entire construction process. Our goal is to make the climb to the top of the steeple once every two weeks taking photos from the same vantage point allowing us to build a “flip book” series of photos once the project is complete. 

We may share a few photos here and there, but the goal is to compile a time-lapse look at the transformation of the area.

Hot in the summer, cold in the winter, always dirty, the project will keep Truth photographers on their toes and going to church.

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