Month: May 2011

Preservation Denied: 1305 North Delaware Street

Concluding Preservation Month at HI, we examine one of the biggest residential architectural murders perpetrated upon the citizenry of Indianapolis.   It’s hard not to wince when passing the northeast corner of 13th and Delaware, knowing that the spires, towers and turrets of the long-gone castle should be regally climbing into the sky. Instead, a lumpy parking lot betrays something lurking beneath the surface: a graveyard. The architect of the dearly departed building was William LeBaron Jenney (25 September 1832- 15 June 1907), best known for his large commercial buildings, but also as the pioneer of skyscraper design and for his...

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Building Language: International Style

International Style. The unadorned walls, casement windows that are flush with the exterior and wrapped around one corner, flat roof and asymmetry of this small house in the 5500 block of North Illinois Street peg it as a rare-to-Indianapolis International Style residence. Mies van der Rohe, who directed the famous Bauhaus design school in Germany in the 1930s, made this style famous. His less-is-more philosophy is beautifully expressed in this simply elegant house probably architect-designed and built before 1940. International Style made its way to downtown Indianapolis in the much larger-scale City-County Building in 1962....

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Ladies Lounge: Invention of the Brassiere

One account marks this day in 1889, as the brassiere was introduced to the marketplace. Corset-maker Herminie Cadolle invented the ‘Well-Being’ or ‘Bien-être’, a bra-like device sold as a health aid. The corset’s support for the breasts squeezed up from below. Cadolle changed breast support to the shoulders down–but clearly, corsets continued to be part of women’s wardrobe. Undoubtedly, women of Indianapolis were able to obtain such items at The When, Ayres, Block’s, Wassons and possibly Rink’s. Hard to fathom making such things at home, but the ladies of yesteryear were (by and large) nothing, if not deft in...

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Preservation Affirmed: Stout Field Terminal

Stout Field, located on south Holt Road between Minnesota and Raymond Streets, was Indianapolis’ first municipal airport. Originally known as Mars Hill Airport, for the suburb it is located in, and also simply known as Indianapolis Municipal Airport, the airfield was opened in the 1926, with the terminal and hangars built around 1927. During its time as the city airport, the runways were apparently not paved. The airport’s name came from WWI veteran Lt. Richard Stout, who had died in a plane crash at Fort Benjamin Harrison. The terminal building, April 2010 It was soon realized that a bigger...

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Sunday Prayer: Alfred Glossbrenner Mansion

Alfred Glossbrenner, prominent early 1900s Indianapolis citizen and president of Levey Printing, built this grand mansion at 3202 (or 3210) North Meridian Street in 1910. Like other mansions on North Meridian, Glossbrenner’s home was ornately detailed inside and out. The mansion as seen from Meridian Street. In 1949, Joseph Walther bought the mansion and used it for his medical practice. In 1966, he founded Winona Memorial Hospital, the vacant shell of which now surrounds the mansion. After selling the hospital in 1985, Walther started the Walther Cancer Foundation, and they owned the mansion until Walther’s death in 2005. With...

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Allison and Wheeler Mansions

After their successes, three of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Frank Wheeler, Carl Fisher, and James Allison, built mansions next to each other along Cold Springs Road. Wheeler and Allison built new homes, while Fisher modified and expanded an existing house. All three were located on what is now Marian University’s campus. Fisher’s mansion was partially destroyed by a fire in the 1950s, and while there are portions of the mansion and outbuildings that still stand, very well-preserved, they are hard to discern among the campus buildings (which is an elaborate way of saying that I...

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Milk: It Does A 500-Driver’s Body Good

The tradition of the Indianapolis 500 winner drinking a bottle of milk in the winner’s circle started in 1936, when Louis Meyer gulped a bottle of buttermilk, which his mother had suggested would be refreshing. Photographs of the drinking made their way to the National Dairy Council, who knew good publicity when they saw it. They have sponsored a bottle of milk for the winner every year since. We’re not sure if the winner’s milk in the 30s through the 50s came from Polk’s Dairy, but since Polk’s was once the largest dairy in the city, it very well...

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Train and Trolley Bear in Thousands: City Greets and Cares for Greatest Crowd of Visitors in Its History

[Transcript of an article from the Indianapolis News, 5/30/1911] City Greets and Cares for Greatest Crowd of Visitors in Its History. EXODUS EARLY TO TRACK Police Rise to Occasion and There Are Few Accidents—Hotels Packed, Many Walk Streets All Night. Never before in its history has the city of Indianapolis entertained a larger throng of strangers. Never has there been a more cosmopolitan crowd in the city coming as it did from nearly every state and territory in the United States, from Canada and from many parts of Europe to attend the five-hundred-mile motor classic at the speedway today. Coupled with the fact that the city had its largest crowd is the interesting fact that the city was prepared to entertain it; in fact, the city was prepared to take care of many more. It is true some people walked the streets all night, but this was either due to the fact they were not aware that the information bureau of the speedway management had hundreds of available rooms in private homes or that they did not care to go to private homes for the night. Moving the Crowds. After sheltering the crowd, a more difficult problem presented itself in getting the crowd to the speedway. Those who did not own automobiles, or who were unable to arrange to go in automobiles, were compelled to rely almost exclusively on...

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Sunday Advert: Nordyke & Marmon

Here are a couple advertisements for long-time Indianapolis industrial giant, Nordyke & Marmon. The first ad is from the 1890s. At the time, Daniel Marmon, the Marmon of the Nordyke & Marmon since 1866, was the president, while his son Howard also worked in the company. Since 1851, Nordyke & Marmon had been a well-known manufacturer of roller mills, grindstones, and other milling equipment. Howard built a car for himself in 1903 and the next year began making others like it to sell. He founded the Marmon Motor Car Company, a subsidiary of Nordyke & Marmon. This 1907 advertisement...

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From Buggies to Motor Cars…connections to 500

One of my favorite and most readable and interesting books on early Indianapolis history is “Indianapolis: The First Century” by Hester Anne Hale, a lovely lady that we unfortunately lost a couple of years ago. I took her out to lunch to learn more about her–she had been a school teacher. And what an inspiring one she must have been! She seemed gentle but firm, self-possessed and independent–and single (further inspiration for me!) Excerpt from the chapter “From Buggies to Motor Cars” “…In 1903 Carl Fisher, a man who had been one of the city’s first car dealers, was fast becoming Indianapolis’ greatest sports promoter. One day late in March he challenged a comptetitor, Conrad Mueller, to a race to Columbus, Indiana.  Fisher was then selling Oldsmobiles; Mueller was a Cadillac dealer. There was a $500 prize for the winner. The race began at 9:00 a.m. on Monument Circle. Earl Fisher, Carl’s brother, drove the Olds, and W.A.Carr drove the Cadillac. With each man was a representative of the competitor. South on Illinois Street the two cars chugged, through the tunnel by Union Station, east across South Street to Virginia Avenue, then out Shelby Street, headed south for Columbus. Earl Fisher somehow took the wrong road. His brother, following in a Winton, honked to alert him but Earl, taking it for applause, kept on. Then he got caught in...

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Preservation Denied: Emrichsville Bridge

An early postcard looking northeast from the west side of the White River, dating from soon after the bridge completion. Later editions of this postcard pasted automobiles on the bridge and street. Note the path on the right side of the image; it probably led to the mansion that still stands just south of 16th Street. After the great flood of 1904 (well, it was great until 1913’s flood), Marion County and Indianapolis, in cooperation with the Commercial Club, put out more than $800,000 for construction of four new bridges over the White River. The most impressive of these...

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Preservation Denied: Board of Trade Building

If you are a faithful reader of our site, you may recall our interview with Indiana Landmarks President, Marsh Davis, cited the Board of Trade building as one of the bigger losses to preservation in Indianapolis. The building was also seen in this morning’s “Then and Now” post. The Board of Trade building was finished in 1905 as the home of the Board of Trade business club. The eight-story building was constructed of a reinforced concrete frame with brick curtain walls, probably one of the first instances of such construction in the city. A postcard sent shortly after completion...

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Then and Now: Corner of Ohio and Illinois Streets

This 1935 photograph documents the south side of West Ohio Street from Illinois Street looking east toward Meridian Street. Although this block was just northwest of Monument Circle and backing the old English Hotel, these buildings were rarely photographed by Bass Photo Company. This photograph found at Ball State University gives us a glimpse of some unfamiliar structures.  To the right is the Stewart Place Block, housing Hook’s Drugs and Beam’s Bowling and Billiards. Farther east is the Gem Hotel, Telephone Building, and the old Indianapolis Library and Indianapolis Public School’s administration building. Zoom in on the digital photograph...

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Then & Now: Marmon House

Howard Marmon, founder of the Marmon Motor Car company–which produced the first car to win the Indianapolis 500, lived in a house at 970 North Delaware Street in 1910-11. Prior to this, his father, Daniel Marmon, president of the Marmon and Nordyke company, had lived at 970 Delaware from 1898 or 99 until his death in 1909. City directories indicate that Howard did not live in the modest house for long, moving on to a string of various houses on the north side, before leaving Indianapolis altogether for North Carolina in the late 1920s. During the 1940s, the University...

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WTH Weds: A Mixed Up House

We’re sure there is a historic home in here. It’s just not exactly obvious where it is. Additions and remodeling, neither particularly sensitive to the original, have really muddled the appearance of the entire building. On the positive side, the home has nice scallop siding in the gable, a nice attic window, a porch added on probably in the first part of the 20th century, and the two-story addition, despite its larger scale, may have been a fairly early response to a growing family. On the WTH side, there is the fake stone siding on half the place, concrete...

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