Month: March 2013

Sunday Advert: H.P. Wasson

I’m not ashamed to admit it – I love shoes.  In 1909, I would have probably frequented H.P. Wasson & Co., for not only were they centrally located on Washington Street near the city’s center, H.P. Wasson & Co. had “sixty-six departments, each a complete store within itself.”  (Hyman’s Handbook of Indianapolis, 1907) H.P. Wasson & Co. started as the Bee Hive Dry Goods Company in 1870.  Hiram P. Wasson bought into the company in 1874, and was the sole owner by 1883.  Hiram subsequently changed Bee Hive’s name to H.P. Wasson and Company.  Following Hiram’s death, and that...

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Sunday Prayers: 143 W. 40th (Capitol Avenue Christian Church)

Dedicated in 1922 as Capitol Avenue Christian Church, 143 W. 40th St. is also a former Masonic Lodge. (photo by Dawn Olsen) They stared up at me, dressed in their Sunday best. They, the old and the young, the smiling and the solemn. The entire Capitol Avenue Christian Church congregation. It was 1924, and they, the people of the church, were posing for a photograph. Behind them, the building stretched tall, reached outside the frame. But within its protective shadow, the people gathered. And posed. And were frozen forever in a moment of Sunday camaraderie. It was at this...

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Indianapolis Collected: Sunday Movies at the Talbott

Like many Americans who grew up in the 1960s, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news that three different men named “John” had died. When the grade school principal announced that John F. Kennedy had been shot, I was washing my hands in the girl’s bathroom at Wallace Elementary School.  Some 17 years later,  I was walking through the door of my boyfriend’s apartment when he yelled from the kitchen that John Lennon was dead, gunned down in Central Park. And I was stepping out of my car to get cash...

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Family Tree: Searching the Web

Most genealogy education is focused on using specific databases or collections, and there is often an implied warning against random online searches. After all it can be overwhelming and confusing to type a name into a search engine and see the thousands of results that are returned, many of which can easily lead you down the wrong path. But broad online searches do have their place in genealogy research. Think of it this way: there is so much information out there that it would be impossible for you to find every single applicable bit directly. Searching is sometimes the...

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Friday Favorite: Gothic Chapel, Crown Hill

Built in 1875, you can’t help but stare when  you come across the Gothic Chapel on a drive through Crown Hill. Originally named the Gothic Vault Made of  Indiana limestone Architect: D.H. Bohlen (buried at Crown Hill) who also designed City Market and Tomlinson Halll Cost $38,922.25 to build James  Whitcomb Riley’s mortal remains rested here for over a year before he was buried on the highest point in Crown Hill in 1917. When did you last visit Crown Hill and what are some of your favorite parts? The building has had restorations in 1971, and in 2004-05  ...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Westside Outing and Social Club, 710 N. Warman Avenue

We need stories about the Westside Outing and Social Club, so please help spread the word. Crowdsourcing is a relatively new term coined to describe a large group of people working together, particularly online, on services, ideas, or content. Crowdsourcers, as they call themselves, have transcribed the recently-released 1940 census, typed up menus for the New York Public Library, and helped the Library of Congress identify some of their mystery photographs. Whether you knew it or not, as readers of Historic Indianapolis.com you have participated in crowdsourcing by sharing your memories, comments, and research. So today, I rather prematurely offer...

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WTH : Whatcha Hiding Under That Top?

With the recent movements towards loving all things hyper-local, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say many of us would rather shop little neighborhood serving corner stores over strip-malls, if they would make a return appearance. For those neighborhood commercial buildings that managed to survive, the years haven’t always been kind. Like the really old lady who went under the plastic surgeon’s knife one too many times, these buildings have elements that just don’t look right. Take the top half of this building, for example: what’s going on here? Vinyl siding, and vinyl ill-fitting windows aren’t doing this old...

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A Room with a View – Indiana’s Tallest Building, The Chase Tower

Monument Circle from the 38th floor of the Chase Tower – photo by Ryan Hamlett Today, a view of a snowy monument circle from the 38th floor of the Chase Tower and a short history of Indianapolis’ tallest building. Many are the visitors to the Circle City who will ridicule our skyline. That is the price we pay for having no geographical features to limit our outward expansion and force us into taller and taller buildings, the city growing outward instead of up. And so it is, that for nearly 23 years now, the Chase Tower (formerly Bank One...

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HI Mailbag: Fall Creek Parkway South Drive

Reader’s Question: My husband and I have purchased this historic house (pictured below) on Fall Creek Parkway South Drive. I have been trying to find out what neighborhood it is located in ever since.  Might you be able to tell me?  We are thrilled to be leaving New Jersey and coming to Indy.  ~  Cheryl Ann Floystrop-Borne HI’s Answer:  The name of the neighborhood in which your new home is located is Meridian-Highland.  The boundaries of the Meridian-Highland Neighborhood Association are West 16th Street on the south, North Meridian Street on the east, West Fall Creek Parkway South Drive on the north, and Interstate-65...

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Indianapolis Auto Row Begins

Fisher Automobile Company 1909, Looking northeast from Vermont and Senate With all the construction on the block bounded by Vermont Street, Capitol Avenue, Michigan Street, and Senate Avenue, I thought it would be a great time to take a look at how this block was the genesis of Indianapolis Auto Row 105 years ago. In 1908, when Carl G. Fisher wanted to expand operations around his 330 North Illinois Street location, the area was already developed with commercial structures.  Consequently, land and construction costs would have been higher for new development elsewhere on Illinois Street than in undeveloped locations. ...

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Sunday Adverts: Redfern Corsets

When this ad ran in January 1910, corsets were the quintessential undergarment for fashionable women.  Redfern touted their whalebone corsets were “practically indestructible” and “the most advanced in style and accurate in design.”  (The Theatre: Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Dramatic and Musical Art, Vol. V, 1905)  Redfern kept three storefronts in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago, but made most sales by sending expert fitters, such as Miss McCauley mentioned in this ad, to fine retailers, such as L.S. Ayres & Co., across the country. According to the trademark dilution case John Wanamaker Philadelphia v. Warner Bros Co.,...

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Sunday Prayers: Irvington Post Office (Stevenson Building)

5502 E. Washington St.–The old Irvington Post Office, also known as the Stevenson Building. (photo by Dawn Olsen) “I’ll tell you something about this building that you probably don’t know,” the man told me. I looked at him with curious politeness and trained my eyes on his lips, for the man spoke quickly, very quickly. Very passionately. “You’re too young to know, so I’ll tell you that this building used to be twice as long,” he said. “Well, not twice as long. Probably a hundred foot total. And it really wasn’t that building. It was another building built right...

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Flats Lost: Falling Through the Cracks

How do historic properties, listed on multiple National Registers, become abandoned neighborhood eyesores? Lawsuits were filed against the owners of two such buildings, the Chadwick and the Lodge apartments two years ago. While National Register placement does not provide any additional legal protection, building codes and ordinances can be utilized to help protect such properties. One must question how did these properties get into such a degraded state before any such legal action was taken. On April 11, 2011, the property owners of both buildings were handed lawsuits by city prosecutors for “allowing their historically designated properties to become...

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Family Tree: Get It Published!

This is just a portion of the tree I created years ago on Ancestry.com Right now in Salt Lake City, Utah, thousands of genealogists have gathered for RootsTech, one of the biggest genealogy conferences this country has to offer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them in person this year, but I have been tuning in to the live stream available on their site. Though we’re only just beginning the third day of the conference, I have already gleaned so much inspiring and enlightening information about all aspects of genealogy. However, there has been a clear theme to much...

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Friday Favorite: George McGinnis

With basketball being all the local talk these days, it seemed a good time to feature a beloved home-grown favorite.   Turns out my mom sat next to George McGinnis in her Government class at George Washington High School, so thanks to a “real hip gal,”  (as George called mom in her yearbook) for providing this look back at some high school photos of one of Indy’s all-time favorite basketball players. After George Washington High School, McGinnis went on to play at Indiana University and eventually for the Pacers. It’s rare for the success of high school athletics to...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Moy Kee Chinese Restaurant, 506 E. Washington Street

Although best known for its German and Irish immigrants, Indianapolis also had a small population of Chinese residents as early as the 1880s and estimated by local newspapers as 100-150 residents by the early 1910s. Finding photographs of the Chinese community or businesses has proven difficult so I was surprised to find several stereographs of Moy Kee & Company’s Chinese Restaurant  in the collections of the Library of Congress this week. Moy Kee, owner of a restaurant and tea house at 506 E. Washington Street, was recognized as the Chinese mayor of Indianapolis in the early twentieth century. As...

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WTH: Vintage Retail Wreck

A return to the egregious tortures of vintage retail/ commercial buildings. Street level frontage here suffers a serious beat-down. Bet this was gorgeous in its heyday. Between the bright awnings, obnoxiously large billboard and the closed in windows on the east elevation and whatever that is going on south of the windows…this baby is in serious need of some...

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Irvington Masonic Lodge #666

photo by Ryan Hamlett This flat-iron shaped, brick and terra-cotta edifice at 5515 E. Washington St. exhibits the ominous lodge number 666, a fact made that much more interesting in that the building, currently houses a church on its uppermost floor. Its foundation and cornerstone were laid 1921 and the building was completed the following year. As with many Masonic Lodges, the ground floor was designed with storefronts so that the lodge could reap rental income to support itself. Until 1950, Lodge #666 was home to the Irvington Post Office. It was rumored to be the home to secret...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis Turnvereins

Reader’s Question:  When I was growing up, we were members of a gym called (I think) the Lincoln Turners. My dad’s side of the family was German, and I remember being told something about German prejudice in Indianapolis during the war. The gym used be called Turnverein (sp???), but it was changed as a way to make it sound more American.  Does this strikering a bell?  ~ Esther Shir, Albuquerque, New Mexico HI’s Answer: The German immigrants who came to the United States of American in the mid-1800s established organizations in their adopted country that were similar to the ones to...

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Road Trip: Vintage Fashion in Pattern

“Want to write about fashion from a historical perspective…?” Pattern  Editor-in-Chief, Polina Osherov queried this past fall. If you weren’t aware, Indy has an emerging interest in fashion and Pattern is an organization dedicated to “Uniting and growing creators and consumers of fashion in Indianapolis.” They have also just published their third issue of Pattern Paper. Upon learning the current issue’s overall theme was ‘transit,’ I knew just the angle to share: how the location of Indy’s beloved retail palaces was based on access and proximity to transportation (Beep beep, toot toot). William H. Block moved his business from a...

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