Month: July 2011

Sunday Prayer: Oliver and Warren Buildings

As the final Sunday Prayer for July, we’d like to offer these buildings in the 1200 block of Oliver Avenue. With the right owners and tenants, they could have the potential for futures as interesting as their pasts. One hundred years ago, the corner of Oliver and Warren Avenues was a commercial haven, with a dozen or so stores, two saloons, and a movie theater on both sides of the street. Notably, on the second floor of the Albert Worm building, 1229 West Oliver, was Worm’s Hotel. What a name. The hotel was above four store fronts in two...

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Sunday Adverts: Hotel Harrison

Today’s advertisement is actually stationary from the Hotel Harrison. Of course, stationary emblazened with the image of the hotel had to have been pretty effective advertising. Hotel Harrison was built in 1928, one of the last old guard hotels in Indianapolis, at the southeast corner of Market and Capitol. It lasted into the 1970s before being converted to an office...

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Hotel Edward

103 years ago today, this postcard from the Hotel Edward was mailed to Evansville… The Hotel Edward was built at the corner of Illinois Street and Chesapeake Street (126-130 S. Illinois) in 1907, along with the Majestic Theater behind the hotel. At the time, it was one of seven hotels facing onto this one block of Illinois Street. The entrance to the theater fronted onto Illinois through the hotel building, as seen in this 1914 Sanborn map clipping… By 1950, the hotel’s name had changed to the Earle Hotel, and the Majestic became the Mutual Theater. Between 1956 and...

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Indianapolis Collected: Hotel Salvage

Ever since the Bates House was demolished in 1901–with the Denison to follow in 1933, the English in 1948, the Claypool in 1969, and the Lincoln in 1973–eager collectors and cash-hungry salvage dealers have rushed ahead of the wrecking ball in an effort to grab a piece of hotel history before the walls came tumbling down. One of the savviest salvagers was Ed Zebrowski, the self-proclaimed “wrecker with a flair.” Zebrowski was the man behind the wrecking ball that felled many of Indianapolis’ most majestic buildings. Love it or hate it – and most HI readers probably lean toward...

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Virginia Avenue Hotel: South House

Who knew there had been a hotel on our southeastern diagonal as well? Though none of these small hotels remain, we do have a number of lovely bed and breakfasts… SOUTH HOUSE, J. M. SOUTH, PROPRIETOR, 17 VIRGINIA AVE. This hotel is considered one of the best $1 per day houses in the Capital City. It has been occupied for hotel purposes since 1865, being managed among others by Mr. Bills, then by Mr. Miller and by Mr. John Kelley, who was succeeded in August, 1878, by the present proprietor. The hotel building is fitted up in a neat...

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Outside the Circle: Elkhart County

Probably best known by tourists for its Amish population (and their homemade goodies), Elkhart County was organized by the Indiana State Legislature in 1830. The county is large and there’s quite a bit for the heritage tourist to see and do. I suggest beginning your journey at the excellent visitor’s centerin Elkhart. There you can pick up a CD to take a self-guided driving tour of the “Heritage Trail,” which showcases many of the county’s highlights. The St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers meet in the city of Elkhart. Elkhart Located at the confluence of the St. Joseph and Elkhart...

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Indianapolis Hotels of 1933

The convention map, showing major hotels and landmarks. In October 1933, the American Public Health Association held their annual meeting/convention in Indianapolis at the Claypool Hotel. While I am sure there were many very important topics discussed at the convention, of particular interest to us now is the convention’s program. In the program, they generously provided the attendees information about the city, including a map of downtown Indianapolis showing the landmarks and major hotels, and rates for those hotels. Here are the rates for the convention hotels–not all of the above hotels are listed, nor are all the listed...

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Then and Now: Hotel Lincoln / Hyatt Regency, 2-20 Kentucky Avenue

The corner of West Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue was once the site of the four-story Commercial Block. In 1906 the building housed various businesses including M. F. Smith, jeweler, and the tailor G. F. Young. The building was demolished in the mid-1910s to make way for the Hotel Lincoln. (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, Indiana Historical Society, May 1906) The Hotel Lincoln was constructed in 1918. The architects, Rubush and Hunter, were part owners along with banker Albert E. Metzger. Although designed as a fourteen-story building, economic difficulties of World War I necessitated constructing the hotel in...

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Illinois House

From an 1883 directory of Indianapolis hotels is this listing for the Illinois House, located on the east side of Illinois Street, just south of the Union Depot. ILLINOIS HOUSE, WILLIAM ESSMANN, PROPRIETOR, 181, 183 AND 185 ILLINOIS ST. This is one of the most popular and well kept houses of its class in the city. Mr. Essmann established the Illinois House more than a score of years ago in a modest, unpretending frame structure on the site of his present commodious edifice, and to accommodate his steadily increasing business has from time to time made additions and improvements,...

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WTH Weds: Full Moon Flattening

Those of you who have seen the original Wolfman movie (I saw it as a child in the theater) will recall how the Wolfman would stalk and terrorize the village, striking fear in anyone who saw him. When I look at these photos, I can’t help but think this poor building has been cursed with a similar condition. Like the Wolfman, this building puts fear in the hearts of those that live and drive by it. Because it clearly looks so different and frightening, there can be nothing but evil things lurking behind it’s doors. Sadly at the end...

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An Englishman’s Stay in Indianapolis, 1851

In the early 1850s, Englishman J. Richard Beste and his family came to America and toured the interior, including Indianapolis. As was popular at the time, he wrote a travelogue “The Wabash: or Adventures of an English Gentleman’s Family in the Interior of America” upon his return in 1855. The family had come to Indianapolis via the railroad from Madison, and stayed at one of the city’s early hotels. You might remember seeing an advertisement for Wright’s House in this collection of hotel ads earlier this month. It was located on Washington Street, between Meridian and Pennsylvania. The house was not the fanciest hotel in town, but wasn’t an economy stay either. Here are Mr. Beste’s notes on his hotel stay in Indianapolis in late June, 1851… Mr. Turtle, the proprietor or manager of the Wright’s House hotel at Indianapolis, seemed to think his premises already too full to accommodate my party; but he showed me a wing of the house, running back between yards and gardens, which I could have if the apartment would suit me. There were several bedrooms, side by side, all communicating with an open balcony and trellis-wood shaded by roses and jasmines in full bloom. We were seduced by the freshness of the flowers; and engaged the rooms at once by the week. We did not consider that, there being no second story over...

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Building Language: Oriel Window

Oriel. An oriel is a bay window that is suspended from the upper story of a building, rather than rising from the foundation. The use of oriels in the United States was inspired by Medieval English architecture. Oriels are common on Queen Anne style buildings, adding interest to the asymmetry, which is a hallmark of this style. Oriels extend the interior space of the room to which they’re attached, often with a window seat placed against the interior walls of the window. The origin of the word “oriel” is not known, but, according to the Illustrated Dictionary of Historic...

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Ladies Lounge: Where’d You Get That?!

It still tickles me when I get stopped on the street, not for directions, but for inquiries as to where I got what I’m wearing. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources. For this week’s guest post for IndySpectator, I write about Indianapolis resources for vintage clothing, but there are other locations worth the trip and some online favorites which provide my favorite sort of escape: into a world when no one wore pajama bottoms and slippers outside their home; where workout clothes were only worn when working out; where women reveled in their...

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What’s in a Name: Dorman Street

Dorman St. Location: Near Eastside Namesake: Dorman Davidson, grandson of Noah Noble Governor Noah Noble, in addition to his service as the fourth governor of Indiana, was a major landowner in early Indianapolis and owned much of the land that now encompasses the Near Eastside. Dorman St. was named after Governor Noble’s grandson, Dorman Davidson. Dorman was born October 26, 1841 to Catherine Noble Davdison, the governor’s daughter, and Alexander H. Davidson. Dorman was the oldest of his siblings: Preston, Noah, Catherine and Susan. His name “Dorman” was likely derived from his maternal grandmother’s maiden name, Susan Dorman. Dorman...

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Then and Now: Denison Hotel 135 N. Pennsylvania Street

Although less known today than other Indianapolis hotels that survived later into the century, the Denison Hotel was considered one of the city’s finest. Despite shaky beginnings, the Denison stood for over fifty years on the southeast corner of East Ohio and North Pennsylvania Streets. In 1870 a group of investors started to build a large hotel, but the construction was not “vigorously pushed” and the project languished. The unfinished, four-story brick structure was nearly destroyed by fire in 1874. A few years later, political mover-and- shaker John C. New, along with Cincinnati businessman John M. Denison and a...

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WTH Weds: Horrorplasty

This fine architectural specimen can be found on East Michigan St. displaying her wares for all to see. I’m fairly certain this used to be a fine example of an American Foursquare…which is a bit like saying Joan Rivers used to look like a human being. With the um…”enhancements” they’ve added to it, it reminds me a lot of my ex-wife after she used the money from our divorce settlement to get a massive boob-job. And is it me or does the downspout work make it seem like someone is building a Rube Goldberg Machine?...

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Once Upon a Time…

There was a girl who hated history class. I mean DETESTED. Let’s face it, the topic can be DRY. The people who taught it were inevitably boring, monotone and sticklers for memorizing dates of battles, generals and other minutiae that seemed irrelevant to me. Really, history 101 was the class period where I could catch up on daydreaming and note-writing to friends (this is many years before texting, of course). Fast forward to my twenties, I dreamt of the day I’d get to live in a Victorian. After breaking up with a long-term boyfriend in L.A. and a visit...

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Building Language: Grotesque

Grotesque. A grotesque is a sculpted or molded ornament usually depicting a fanciful creature or distorted human. Grotesques are typically placed high on the exterior of buildings beneath the eave or at the top of columns, giving the impression that they are leering down at the humans below them. Not to be confused with gargoyles, which are part of the gutter system of a building and act as water spouts, grotesques are purely decorative. The grotesque in the photograph is one of several found on the interior of a residence in the 8000 block of Springmill Road. The house...

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Ladies Lounge: Some Spring 1936 Fashion

If you can listen while you read, this is the song on my mind as I look at these clothes… A few selections from Spring 1936, featured in local shops. I admit, I was not familiar with a store called Miller’s, previously located at 26-28 West Washington Street–but if these fashions are any indication of what I would find in their 1936 store, I will add this to my number of stops when my time machine is ready for travel. The printed triple sheer dress is the stand-out for me. As well as the slip–vintage slips and lingerie are...

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