Month: December 2012

Ford Indianapolis assembly branch centennial is coming

Ford Indianapolis Assembly Branch, Copyright © Ford Motor Company To meet America’s insatiable demand and to reduce shipping costs for finished Model T’s, the Ford Motor Company built its Indianapolis Assembly Branch in 1914.  Located near the southwest corner of East Washington and Oriental Streets, the original building measured 141 feet along Washington Street with a 300 foot depth.  The back of the lot had frontage along Southeastern Avenue. Ford Motor Company opened its four-story assembly branch (known as Plant 215) in the fall of 1914.  The company hosted a grand opening gala for over 5,000 persons on March 9,...

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Sunday Adverts: 1910 Southbend Comes to Indy

Their first automobile was an electric car, introduced in 1902 and the first gasoline powered automobile in 1904. By 1910, Studebaker Brothers had an Indianapolis branch on Pennsylvania. Check out this 1910 Flanders ’20’ Coupe. This one was reportedly created to compete with the Ford Model T. Imagine the streets of Indianapolis filled with this style of...

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Kickstart Your Family Tree: Putting It Together

So far we’ve dug through census records, searched cemeteries, and combed through military records. You’ve found your great-aunt Martha’s birth record and your dear uncle Edgar’s obituary. But what do you do with all the notes, copies, printouts, and source citations? Without some way of organizing your research you will quickly become buried in a mountain of paper. Today we’re going to discuss a few methods for controlling the chaos and making the most of your time and effort. Organizing Your Information To continue your research the first thing you need to do is organize the information you already...

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Flats Lost & Saved: Mass Ave & Vermont Street

The Sanborn map above is of the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Vermont Street, and Alabama Street in 1914.  Originally, the 400 block of Mass Ave was set aside for ‘religious purposes.’  However, by 1870, the area had established its popularity as a main shopping corridor surrounded by residential blocks.  According to the National Register of Historic Places – Massachusetts Avenue Commercial District Nomination Form from 1977, the most “striking physical characteristic of the district as a whole is the uniformity of size, scale, materials, style, and age of the commercial buildings.”  This is apparent in many of the buildings...

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Friday Favorite: Statuary on Penn

This one is a favorite, but a bittersweet one. If you’ve ever walked north on Pennsylvania Street, you may have noticed a little threesome along the southern wall of 241 North Pennsylvania. If you need some help visualizing the building, it’s the one pictured below on the southeast corner of Pennsylvania and New York Streets. More than one person has inquired about the mysterious little grouping on Penn–where did it come from and why is it here? For the most part it is only noticed by alert pedestrians, and while I have no clue why it ended up where...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ryan/Gasaway Home, 1103 E. 9th Street

Finding photographs of the homes and businesses of the Vonneguts, Efroymsons, Ayres, and Blocks families is relatively easy. Just go to the William H. Bass Photo Collection at the Indiana Historical Society and many images appear documenting the buildings owned by the wealthy and prominent residents of our city. Bass photographers focused heavily on downtown and north side buildings as the society folks moved north. But in this “city of homes,” a popular slogan for Indianapolis in the early 1900s, it is difficult to locate photographs of houses owned by John Q. Public who lived, worked, worshipped, and raised...

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WTH: The Blizzard Edition

All the blizzard talk got us thinking about highly fortified domiciles–and what will protect dwellers from one unsavory element will work against many. This little number on Boulevard shares similarities of many WTH’s: disproportionately small space allocated for windows and lots of vinyl siding. The front door is far from how the original would have appeared. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but if the house next door isn’t attached, it looks close enough in proximity that burrowing underground might be just as easy as shoveling out of a major snow…depending on how many inches turn up today....

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What’s in a Name: Barnes Avenue

Barnes Avenue Location:  North Indianapolis Albert A. Barnes, president, Udell Works Albert Barnes was a businessman who owned land in the area around Barnes Avenue.  He donated the land and money in 1889 to the church that would become Barnes United Methodist Church. He was born in Stickbridge, Vermont, February 14, 1839 to Jospeh and Eliza Simpson Barnes, one of 10 children. When he was five, the family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and lived there until he was 10.  The family was nearly destitute, and Albert was working at 6 selling candy and peantuts.  At nine he began working...

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Sunday Ads: 1910 Indy Christmas

Christmas ads of 1910 are all over the map. From milk to diamonds and well wishes from all forms of business… The L. E. Morrison & Co. was one of the many Washington Street businesses… …not far from H.P. Wasson & Co – and interesting to note, the owners were Jewish. (The candelabras look like abbreviated menorahs.) Don’t know what Tucker’s was, but interesting that in 1910, they were already using Xmas as a shortened version of Christmas. The Star Store is not as well recalled as Block’s or Ayres, but it too, was one of the city’s department...

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Indianapolis Collected: It’s a Wonderful Loaf

The mysterious advertisement first showed up in The Indianapolis Star on May 19, 1921.  Positioned above an eye-catching photo of Dr. William Osborn, inventor of the Self-Adjusting Rupture Appliance, the small display ad asked a cryptic question: “WONDER?  How often do you use this word every day?  Check yourself.” In the unfortunate event that readers might think they should be checking themselves for ruptures, a follow-up advertisement ran two days later. Although this teaser shed no more light on either the product that was being promoted or the company that was selling it, readers were promised that a “real WONDER”...

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Kickstart Your Family Tree: Wills & Probate Records

This application for administration from Clinton County shows that the deceased died without a will. It is full of genealogical information, and it’s just one page from the probate file for this individual. About Wills & Probate Records Dealing with estate records can be very confusing. There is typically a lot of legal jargon used, and the purpose or outcome of a record is not always clear to the layperson. While I am certainly no expert when it comes to legal matters, I will do my best to give you a basic explanation of wills and probate records. Hopefully...

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Heritage Steward: Marjorie Kienle

I think of myself as a wife, mother, speech/language pathologist, preservationist, project manager and community volunteer. Since this information is for Historic Indianapolis.com, I will address my interests simply as a preservationist. I grew up in the historic section of a small college town in Ohio called Westerville. The only home I knew, until I married, was built in the in late 1800s; a simple gothic Victorian. I loved walking around the main downtown streets with 2 story brick buildings punctuated with 3 story structures on the corners of the blocks. To this day I feel the greatest sense...

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Friday Fave: A Mass Ave Shop for The New Year

Have you ever daydreamed about owning your own shop or business of some kind? And if your dreams include our beautiful capital city of Indianapolis, where do you picture it? If you’re a downtowner, chances are good you’d be all about Mass Ave. Why? Mass Ave is packed with shops, restaurants and bars and seems incessantly bustling with activity and is nestled between a bunch of historic neighborhoods. (Jealous of you Chatham Arch dwellers!) Enough of the historic buildings have been retained (who doesn’t love Stout’s Shoes, Silver in the City, Yats or the Indy Reads Books space?), and...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Moeller Photograph Studio, 1122 Prospect Street

Courtesy of the Indiana Album Indianapolis has been home to hundreds of photographers, mostly located downtown along Washington and Illinois Streets until the suburbs expanded on the outskirts of town. In the early 20th century, many commercial districts had a neighborhood photo studio. In the era before everyone owned a camera, people dressed up for their portraits at photograph studios (usually called galleries in the 1800s) and looked serious for their sitting. Photo journals of this period advised camera operators not to let their clients smile and look giddy for posterity. For years I’ve been compiling a directory of...

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WTH: Wonder Twin Powers, Activate

The vinyl, wood awning, mismatched windows and missing windows (up top) aren’t cute. But……Form of: Hot Mess Ever see some sort of personal ornamentation (makeup, clothing, hair, perfume) and think ‘Wow, it can’t get much worse than that,” to be quickly followed by a meal of just-spoken words and an “Oops, I spoke too soon”? Such was the case in a recent wander above Fall Creek Boulevard. Squint, cock your head and scrutinize, the above vinyl clad double just looks a bit off. Not to a crash-your-car level of extreme, but still, you know it ain’t right. Chancing upon...

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Room With A View – World’s Largest Christmas Tree (Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument)

World’s Largest Christmas Tree from the 20th floor of the Sheraton Hotel The World’s Largest Christmas aka Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument sits on a three acre plot of land that Indianapolis city planner Alexander Ralston originally deemed “Governor’s Circle.” Intended to be the location of the Governor’s residence, a mansion was built on the Circle in 1827. However, because of the very public local and very shoddy construction, no Governor ever called the circle home and the mansion was razed in 1857. The circle, now a popular meeting area became known as “Circle Park” until efforts were made to...

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What’s in a Name: Patterson Street

Patterson St. Location:  Downtown, IUPUI Named For: Samuel J. Patterson, early settler and brick maker Samuel Patterson was born to Robert, who hailed from Maryland, and Annie Elliot, Virginia naive.  The couple moved to Kentucky, where Samuel was born in Cynthiana.  The couple also had 11 other children:  Elliot, Robert, Mary Ann, Eliza, Margaret, Annie, James, Almira, Marion, William and Henry.   Robert moved to Indianapolis in the fall of 1821 and served as the probate judge for Marion County.   Samuel was born in 1804 and moved with his parents to Indianapolis In his early years, he worked with his...

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Indy’s Top 10 Auto Producers?

Ford Motor Co., 1307-23 E. Washington St. A couple of articles ago we explored: “How many cars were made in Indianapolis?” Prompting another question:  “Who were Indy’s top 10 auto producers?” As mentioned previously, compiling this type of research is an imprecise art.  In this instance, there is no single source listing production numbers for manufacturers by location.  Some sources list production numbers only for larger manufacturers.  In this case, multiple nameplates or vehicle types are grouped by manufacturer.  In other instances, research is compiled from archives, other researchers, and historians. After perusing numerous sources, here is the final...

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Sunday Adverts: Cafes of Mass Ave

Who doesn’t miss this once prolific form of advertising? It seems at one time the Around the Corner Grille was in the same block where Black Market ad Indy Reads Books are today. One wonders if the Around the Corner shop was a carry out and the Grille, an ancillary business? And as ever in evidence, history repeats itself: What is now Hoaglin To Go, was previously Flannery’s Cafeteria. Matchbooks were for so long a free takeaway of anywhere in the world you’d travel. Contributor Libby Cierzniak put together a great article on a matchbook...

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Kickstart Your Family Tree: Church Records

Photo of First Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis by the Detroit Publishing Co., via the Library of Congress (LC-D4-17326) When people settled in a new area, one of the first things they usually established was a church. This means that churches typically existed and kept records before there was any governing body to do so. Therefore it’s common to find church records of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths that predate any records available from governmental sources. And since the recording of vital records was traditionally the responsibility of the church, the further back in time you go, the more you’ll...

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