Like ‘Easter eggs’ in films? Try to find these 5 eccentricities in downtown Fort Wayne

If you are a fan of clever cinematography, you might know about a phenomenon called “Easter eggs” in film. They are sneaky hidden messages or features, which are only observable to the careful eye.

For instance, Star Wars producer George Lucas hid the numbers “1138” in his films as a nod to his first feature, and Pixar Studios has been known to hide references to their future animated movies in films.

Downtown Fort Wayne is no stranger to these inconspicuous, subtle eccentricities either, but unless you know where to look, you might miss them.

Here are five 'Easter eggs' to look for in downtown Fort Wayne.
 
  1. Buildings with faces
“Modillions” atop the Schmitz Block building have carved faces. 

If you look up at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Calhoun Street, you'll find several faces peering down at you. These stones, known as “modillions,” atop the Schmitz Block building have carved faces. 

This Schmitz building is one of the last standing works of local architect Frank B. Kendrick. German immigrant Henrietta Schmitz erected the building around 1888 as a monument to her deceased husband, Dr. Charles Schmitz, said to be one of the city’s first physicians. He built his residence in the quarter block where the building now stands, but later divided the lot and put up storefronts in what would become a high-volume shopping area.

Modillions were used to support the decorative molding around buildings. While they may be carved or plain, many of the stone supports on the Schmitz Block sport particularly unique (and perhaps slightly unnerving) faces. The reason why faces, in particular, grace these stone structures remains unclear.
 
  1. The Embassy “chip”
A small white chip in the Embassy's compass Rose indicates true North.

If you look at a map of Fort Wayne, you might notice the streets downtown slant Northwest. 

Historians believe that the city’s designers, John T. Barr and John McCorkle, either planned their streets to fit a future canal, or aligned them with already-established paths from the Old Fort (which stood near the old Well Memorial on Main Street). 

This design is echoed nearly a century later in the floor design of at least one Fort Wayne building.

A small white chip in the Embassy's compass Rose indicates true North.

The compass rose in the lobby of the Embassy Theatre slants Northwest, square with the street. If you look closely at the circular tile frame of the compass, you will find a small white chip indicating true North. 
 
  1. Twin Summit towers
Rendering provided by Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, LLC.

Did you know that Summit Plaza at 911 S. Calhoun St. was initially supposed to have two more buildings in addition to the Indiana Michigan Power building? 

Plans for Two Summit Square, a 20-story high-rise building and Three Summit Square, a 9-story, low-rise building were dropped, which resulted in half of the original lot being left empty. 

Due to economic downturns in the 1970s, officials revised their plans and opted to maximize available office space of the primary skyscraper by moving the elevator shaft to a prominent tower. 

Rendering provided by Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, LLC.

The two additional proposed buildings can be seen in these photos prepared by architects. The building on the right eventually became a reality after some extreme aesthetic modifications.
 
  1. George Street
A George Street sign on the South wall of Aaron's Fine Rug Gallery.

While driving along one street in Fort Wayne, you might notice that the street names change several times. Over the years, officials have changed several street names to simplify the system. Many of these name changes downtown took place along roads connected to South Calhoun Street, and remnants of the old names still exist.

On the South wall of Aaron's Fine Rug Gallery at the corner of Broadway and West Brackenridge Street, there's an old road sign marking the wall as George Street, which you won't find on any maps today. 

Between Broadway and Calhoun Street, Brackenridge Street once remembered Mother Eliza George, a local Civil War nurse. According to local historian Tom Castaldi, after the death of her son-in-law, Sion S. Bass, George left Fort Wayne at age 54 to tend to ailing soldiers. While serving in Wilmington, North Carolina, she contracted typhoid and died. She was buried with full military honors in Lindenwood Cemetery. 

While a street downtown once honored her legacy, it ultimately became West Brackenridge. 
 
  1. “On this site in 1897 Nothing Happened”
There's an Easter egg inside Fort Wayne's Famous Coney Island.
 
Coney Island has accumulated a number of knickknacks and small treasures over the years, according to Co-Owner Jimmy Todoran, and perhaps none is more mysterious than a small plaque near the front of the store. 

It reads, “On this site in 1897 Nothing Happened.” 

A mysterious plaque near the front door of Coney Island on the West wall.

Despite the date, Todoran says this plaque is about nine decades younger than the 1890s, finding its way to the restaurant in the mid-1980s. According to research done by etymologist Barry Popik, other copies of the same plaque began to appear across the U.S. at around the same time. The first record appeared in 1980 when a Maryland newspaper reported that the plaque could be found on a California building owned by radio personality Dick Clark.

Popik also discovered that in 1984, a California newspaper found the plaque on a Sunrise Bancorp building. Two more Maryland Newspapers reported the ominous plaque in 1985 and 1989.

The origin of the saying and design of this multiplying plaque remains a mystery, and copies are sold online for under $30

Do you know about more Easter eggs around Fort Wayne?

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