Month: February 2011

Introducing the “Ladies’ Lounge”

Advertised to upscale local ladies in 1916: fine clothing. Of course, some of the upper class traveled as far as Europe and beyond to secure unique and fashionable wardrobes. Others perhaps made a bi-annual pilgrimage to New York City, and still others may have found a quick trip to Chicago to Lucile Ltd. more convenient. If Oscars had existed in this time period, Lucile would have been one of the most frequently featured designers, and certainly would have been as sought after by actresses as the rest of the social elite of this country. This ad for Lucile Ltd beckons...

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The Post Office: 1893

With the news of the West Indianapolis Post Office closing yesterday (see the IndyStar article), here is a look at the Indianapolis Post Office of 1893. The post office was located on the southeast corner of Market and Pennsylvania Streets (Market would be to the left, Penn to the right). A simple neoclassical delight, it was likely already feeling small in 1893. By 1898, the adjacent two store buildings to the south had been converted to postal use and connected to this building by a passageway. Also in 1898, a 30’x30′ bicycle garage was located to the east, probably...

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Knight & Jillson: A House of Pipe

Knight & Jillson Company was a manufacturer and wholesaler of pipes of all kinds. The gas boom of central Indiana made the pipe business very lucrative; at its peak, the company’s revenue totaled nearly $1,500,000. Their office and main plant was located at 121-127 S Pennsylvania St., at the southeast corner of the intersection with Chesapeake St. According to the 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance Rate map, the back 3-story part was used for pipe-fitting and storage. This building was not yet finished on the map, so it was likely built in 1899 or 1900. They also had operations in...

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Then & Now: Hannaman Building, 40-42 E. Washington Street

One of the oldest commercial buildings in Indianapolis is in the news again as it suffers yet another “remuddling,” a derogatory term preservationists use to describe remodeling projects that have gone awry. On February 17 Property Lines, the Indianapolis Business Journal’s real estate blog, reported that the City has placed a stop work order on the historic Hannaman building at 40 E. Washington Street. The owners received permits to stabilize and repair brick and as scaffolding appeared hope was high that something positive would finally happen to this neglected structure. No such luck as dismayed onlookers watched the window...

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WTH Weds: Lots–I

One of the most common WTH’s that we find are the cases where we think, “What the hell, they tore down that for this???” Quite often, this reaction is caused by the “this” being a parking lot, vacant lot, or similar under-utilized area. “Open space” is a term used by architects for the latter, which means that it is a step up from a vacant lot in terms of landscaping, but usually not much more than a few trees inserted into holes in the concrete pavement. So, today we begin an occasional series looking at these cases that make...

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Pounds and Pets

Today is National Spay Day. We bet you did not know that before now. In recognition of this, we take a quick look at the history of Indianapolis dog pounds, and then some happier vintage views of pets from around Indiana. Indianapolis Dog Pound Like many cities during the City Beautiful movement, Indianapolis created a city dog pound to help control the population of stray animals that were viewed as disease carrying nuisances. The turn-of-the-last-century Indianapolis dog pound was located on the southern edge of Greenlawn Cemetery, adjacent to the River Ave. bridge (now demolished–one bridge pier base can...

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Presidents in Indianapolis

Today is “Presidents Day,” so we look at the US presidents who have paid visits to our city. Since Indianapolis was the railroad crossroads of America, presidents who visited the western parts of the country by rail often went through the city, so we got more than a fair share of presidents through here. Here are just some highlights of presidential visits to Indianapolis… William Henry Harrison. Certainly never visited the city during his presidency, though he probably visited the area of Marion County while governor of the territory or during the Indian campaigns. Martin Van Buren visited Indianapolis...

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Where Was This? Mystery buildings of Indianapolis…turned out to be Terre Haute.

After purchasing this photo on ebay a year or two ago, I misplaced the original. When I find it I will scan in sections so that you may see more closely. In the meantime, does anyone have a clue where this was? It just said “Indianapolis” on the back of the photo. As I start digging through more of my archives, I’ll find this and some other yet to be identified Indianapolis locations. If you have any unidentified photos causing you similar consternation, we’d be happy to ask our readers for help on your behalf as well. UPDATE!! As...

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From the Mailbag: Comfort Station

We received a question from one of our loyal readers, Gordon Durnil, about the Indianapolis “comfort stations” that were located in the middle of Kentucky Avenue, at the southwest corner of the Kentucky/Illinois/Washington Street intersection. Looking northeast at the women’s entrance, 1911 (Bass Photo #24702) Around the advent of the 20th Century, the development of public sewer systems were placing toilets in every office and business. However, there was still a need for convenient public restrooms in downtown for the multitudes of shoppers and workers who were in the streets everyday. In order to accommodate their needs, in the summer of...

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Then and Now: The Milano Inn, 231 S. College Avenue

In my work I love finding historic photographs of off-the-beaten-path Indianapolis locations. While the Bass Photo Company collection at the Indiana Historical Society wonderfully documents the city, particularly new construction near downtown and in wealthier north-side neighborhoods, Bass photographers seldom worked in older neighborhoods. Their “greatest hits” photographs are used over and over again so it is fun to discover new old sections of town in other collections. Documentary photographs from insurance and utility companies show neighborhoods not usually photographed by commercial studios. These images of 231 N. College Avenue reveal the progression of the building that houses the...

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WTH Weds: 122 W. 13th Street

Today’s What the Hell Wednesday features this former Victorian home at 122 West 13th Street… In the early 1900’s, there was probably nothing outstanding about it; it would have been just one of many similar homes in the surrounding neighborhood. A few flats and apartments were nestled amongst the single-family homes, but all the kids would have gone to the Lew Wallace School (PS #11) at the southeast corner of Capitol and 13th. By the 1950’s, commercial warehouses, industrial buildings, and parking lots had largely taken over the neighborhood–and the school was gone–but this specimen and two of its...

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An Old Sweetheart of Mine, Virginia Keep Clark

James Whitcomb Riley, Hoosier poet and the spark that started my life down a most rewarding path… It all started with this book and its title page. Yesterday’s holiday brought this title to mind… Howard Chandler Christy is well known for his art, as was the Bowen-Merrill (later Bobbs-Merrill) Company was for publishing. The other name on the page, Virginia Keep, has become one of my biggest passion subjects. In fact, I’d say she will always be “an old sweetheart of mine.” She was born on 17 February 1878 and has connected me to so many fascinating characters of...

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Historic Valentine’s Cards – Part IV

We conclude this show of vintage Valentine’s cards with another set of lovely images and a famous Valentine poem by no other than James Whitcomb Riley himself. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! Her Valentine James Whitcomb Riley Somebody’s sent a funny little valentine to me. It’s a bunch of baby-roses in a vase of filigree, And hovering above them—just as cute as he can be— Is a fairy cupid tangled in a scarf of poetry. And the prankish little fellow looks so knowing in his glee, With his golden bow and arrow, aiming most unerringly At a...

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Historic Valentine’s Cards – Part III

We include within Part III of our little exhibit of Valentine’s cards, a poem by William B. Vickers, a 19th century native of Indianapolis. My Valentine Turn back, oh, time, thy tempest flight, The busy day, the restless night, The years that slip so swiftly past, The centuries that cannot last, And let a healing touch of thine Renew the youth of Valentine. Roused from his medieval sleep, I know the good old saint would weep To see the uses base and low That time has brought his memory to, But bright through all the ages shine The virtues...

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Feature Friday: Indianapolis in 1950 – Part I

While we continue to map out the features we want to offer you wonderful H.I. readers, it seems like a good time to offer a really cool glimpse of Indianapolis in 1950. Through the eyes of Laura Owen Miller, granddaughter of William Henry Harrison Miller, law partner of President Benjamin Harrison, learn what were perceived as the selling points of our city sixty plus years ago. This article appeared in the August 1950 issue of Holiday magazine, amongst articles on Cape Cod Cottages, Southampton Summers and Yellowstone National Park! Because the article is so long and impossible to capture...

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