Month: March 2011

Then and Now: The Historic Steer-In, 5130 E. Tenth Street

The Historic Steer-In was featured on the popular Food Network show Drive-ins, Diners and Dives in early March introducing the country to one of the east side’s most beloved drive-ins. The site of 5130 E. Tenth Street, just east of Emerson Avenue, has been home to a drive-in restaurant going back to the early 1930s. History of the early years is spotty, but by 1935 a company named North and South Poles, Inc. sold frozen custard here and probably built this whimsical drive-in around that time. Like many drive-ins and other roadside businesses, the vernacular structure mimics the product sold...

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WTH Weds: Copycat

We typically don’t pick on color choices for historic homes in What the H*ll, since colors are such a personal preference and just about any color could be historically accurate. However, we make an exception for this work in progress. Purple can be a fine historic color choice. Many Victorian homes originially were painted in the new unnatural, man-made colors of the era. This house is of an age that it could reasonably fit that category. Though, it does seem to be an odd method of painting a house, starting with the porch and parts of the gable and...

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Building Language: Brackets

Brackets This commercial building on Virginia Avenue in Fletcher Place displays paired brackets beneath its eave.  These brackets are both decorative and functional, helping to support the weight of the cornice. Brackets such as these, in pairs or in singles, are found on both commercial and residential buildings in the Italianate style.  Andrew Jackson Downing popularized this style of architecture with pattern books published in the 1840s and 1850s.  Although Italianate-style commercial buildings once lined the streets of downtowns across Indiana, and Italianate-style houses graced our residential neighborhoods, the number of these buildings still dressed up with their brackets,...

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Ladies Lounge: American Magazine “Vacation 1947”

It’s about spring break time here, so it seems apropos to feature “The American Magazine” Vacation Issue from Spring 1947. This publication was geared towards women and though it does not specifically mention Indianapolis, it was sent to ladies in the midwest. This one addressed to Haviland, Ohio–not far over the border from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Highlights of this issue follow with how to get over your fear of water (not sure about this methodology, but ok); a fingerpainting teacher and ads. Which are your favorites? I love that American Express was marketing their travelers cheques to ladies and...

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Mystery House 2, the Mysterious Sequel

Here is another mystery home from the same 1909 Ladies Home Journal as yesterday’s. You readers did such a great job identifying it likely won’t take long for someone to tell us where in Indianapolis this house is (or was). Clues indicate it was built in 1909 or just before, and the designer was Charles Hollingsworth. There are no clues where in the city it might...

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Friday Mystery House- Where is/ Was This?

Where is this or was this? Help solve today’s mystery… We have collected a variety of unlabeled photos in this line of work…but with the collective knowledge of our readership, chances are, we can solve a few mysteries. This picture–among others yet to come–was taken by Charles F. Bretzman and even identifies the architects, Foltz & Parker and that the house is in Indianapolis, but alas, no address. Other than the clues left by the architecture, this article was published in 1909. Anyone recognize this? Where is it? [UPDATE] Thanks to our ever-knowledgable readers William Gulde and Therese Burns,...

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Then and Now: Ruskaup Store, 715 Dorman Street

According to family legend, recent German immigrant Frederick Ruskaup wanted to build a grocery store in the newly developed Woodruff Place on the east side of Indianapolis. Because the exclusive suburban town only allowed residential buildings, Ruskaup bought land on the west side of the United States Arsenal (today Arsenal Technical High School) where his entrepreneurial spirit eventually made him a wealthy businessman. This 1890s photograph depicts the brick grocery store and tavern constructed by Frederick Ruskaup in 1875 and expanded a decade later. His family lived upstairs until 1891 when they moved into their new brick house next...

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WTH Weds: 20/22 N Delaware

St. Patrick’s Day was just last week, so I’m still a little bit in an Irish mood. I’m still having beer and hoping for some Irish luck. It’ll pass soon enough, to be replaced with an urge to grill out and mow the lawn. This building though is apparently ready for March 17 every day of the year. Or at least its lower left quadrant is. It looks like there is enough green there to paint the Barney castle a nice shade of clover. Of course, the paint just covers a flat plywood front, with some extra bits of...

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Building Language: Art Moderne

Art Moderne The curved wall of this commercial/industrial facade in the 400 block of College Avenue clues us in that this is an Art Moderne building. Art Moderne architecture was popular from about 1930 to about 1950. Glass-block windows, found flanking the entrance of this building, are another common design element of Art Moderne architecture. Glazed brick, used in a variety of sizes on the walls of this building, is found on both interiors and exteriors of buildings of this style and in this period. Many school buildings from the 1930s to 1950s have glazed brick interior walls, for...

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Ladies Lounge: Shopping in 1906

In honor of Midwest Fashion Week, a look back at Indianapolis fashion resources from 1906… you think we take hours to go shopping these days? Imagine having to go to all these different places to get fully outfitted! But if you were a fashionista of early 20th century Indianapolis, you probably would have patronized these...

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Women’s History Month: Indianapolis Propylaeum

From Hyman’s Handbook of Indianapolis, published in 1897: “The Indianapolis Propylaeum was incorporated June 6, 1888, for the purpose of promoting and encouraging literary and scientific endeavors, also for erecting and maintaining a suitable building that would provide a center of higher culture for the public, and particularly for the women of Indianapolis. The organization of the Propylaeum was due to the suggestion of Mrs. May Wright Sewall, who has from the beginning held the position of president of the association. The membership of the organization is composed exclusively of women. The leading organizations of the city, both those...

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Outside the Circle: New Harmony

Situated along the Wabash River in Indiana’s southwestern-most county of Posey, New Harmony is a must-see destination for all Hoosier history lovers. Since 1965, a portion of town has been a National Historic Landmark and in 2001, even more of the town was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown New Harmony welcomes visitors to its historic storefronts. New Harmony is best known for being home to two 19th-century utopian experiments in communal living. In 1804, George Rapp and his subset of Pietist followers, soon to be known as the Harmony Society, left Württemberg, Germany in search...

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Then and Now: Ohio and Alabama Streets

Looking East on Ohio Street from Alabama Street, Indianapolis This intersection was not photographed often, so I was thrilled to find this small diner documented in the background of an accident negative made by the Indianapolis Fire Department made on February 3, 1952. Stachler’s Grill, shown in its Art Moderne glory, was a popular hang-out for policemen and city employees. Catty cornered from Indianapolis City Hall and a block from the jail, it served food remembered as typical greasy spoon fare.  The only other surviving building in the 1952 view is the Gulf Insurance Company building. In the distance...

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WTH Weds: 323 N. Delaware

Take a castle wall, remove the parapet, punch out few stones, add some glass windows and door in the openings, a steel fire door for everybody’s safety, paste on two royal blue awnings, and, finally, trim it with two “Victorian” lamps, and you get this building at 323 N. Delaware… Prior to the late 1930s, this lot was occupied by a former house used by the Edna Keller funeral home. That was replaced by this building [edit: this building may still be the house behind that facade], originally used as a store, with an auto repair shop in the...

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West Indianapolis

When considering today’s date, the Ides of March, two events in Indianapolis history are of noteworthy. The first was the annexation of the city of West Indianapolis, Brightwood, Haughville, Mount Jackson, and Eastside Terrace into the city of Indianapolis in 1897. The second event on this date was the abduction, rape, and murder of Madge Oberholtzer by DC Stephenson in 1925, which eventually led to the indictment of the governor and the downfall of the KKK in Indiana. Needless to say, that is one heck of a story, and far more detailed than what I can research right now....

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Ladies of the Class of 1920- Glee Club & All

For those of you who know a girl born in 1998 who attends college directly after high school graduation, her college graduation is likely to be 2020–which would be 100 years after the young ladies in these photos from “Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division” a.k.a. the predecessor to Ball State University. Though outside Indianapolis, this is still a lovely glimpse back in time–and plenty of Indianapolis residents attend Ball State today. How different do you think the young ladies of today are versus those of the class of 1920? 1920 and showing some leg… And the Girls’ Glee...

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Sunday Ad: Sinfully Delicious

Advertised in Indianapolis in 1913 Who doesn’t love a sweet treat now and then? Note that the city has been home to purveyors of sweeties for more than 100 years…one wonders what confections tasted like, shipped over from New York, Paris and Havana. What is your favorite brand of sweet treat or favorite place to go for something sweet in...

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Anna Topp: Trailblazing Female Real Estate Developer

In honor of  Women’s History Month, let’s look at a woman featured in a newspaper article of 1910.  Heretofore unknown to this generation, we learn about an early female real estate developer named Anna Topp. Sadly, much of the area mentioned in this article (about the area  she developed) has been wiped off the map–mostly for parking lots–for the Children’s Museum and others. It is not known how many of her properties survive, but a drive along Senate Avenue in the 3100 block certainly retains some. A quick look around the internet yielded “Anna Topp Garden Subdivision” relating to...

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