The Story Behind That Massive Indiana Sign in Fall Creek Place

The house reflects his family’s mantra: Treat people well, and smile.

Over the last year and a half, commuters traveling north on Delaware Street from downtown have noticed Jake Nelson’s yard art. Not the tacky pink flamingo type—a tasteful yet massive back-lit Indiana-shaped steel sign bolted to his family’s house in Fall Creek Place.

“The idea came from having too much coffee and staying up too late,” says the affable Nelson. He’s talking about one evening in particular, when—after buying the abandoned property from the city and clearing 40 years’ worth of brush—he noticed that the house was the first thing you see coming around the curve at 22nd Street. He wanted the house to reflect his family’s mantra: Treat people well, and smile.

Nelson ordered the steel the day after his caffeinated epiphany. Then he used an overhead projector to cut out the shape of Indiana with a small saw and metal blade, and played with muriatic acid, water, and a leaf blower to get the rust effect just right. Weighing 125 pounds, the sign took seven people, a rope, and a pulley to install. It’s safe to say his pieces for Twenty Tap and Longbranch restaurant were easier projects.