Month: June 2013

Sunday Adverts: Max Katz Bag Company

According to the Company History for the Max Katz Bag Co., Max Katz spoke not english when he came to the United States from Russia.  He spent some time in New York in the butcher trade, until he decided travel a little further west and settle in Indianapolis.  In 1911, Katz opened the Max Katz Bag Company, a retailer in repurposed burlap and osnaburg (flour sack) bags.  The New Jersey Street location listed in this 1925 advertisement was home to the Max Katz Bag Company from the moment it opened until 1977. The Max Katz Bag Company still exists,...

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Sunday Prayers: The Gladden-Stempfel House

The Gladden-Stempfel home, located at 1564 N. Park Ave., was constructed in 1898. This undated photo shows the home in pristine condition. (Copyright IHPC Collection, IHPC, courtesy Digital Collections of IUPUI University Library. Photo used with permission.) The wooden giant on the corner of 16th and Park has always intrigued me. Its curved windows draw my eyes up and around to each detail. The modillions, the columns, the arch on the second floor, even the “cornerstone” in the brick chimney. From what I can see, the roof is intact. And from what I know, there isn’t mold. It doesn’t...

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Flats Lost & Saved: Honorable Mentions

What happens to buildings that never receive historic protections?  Is it the kiss of death?  Interestingly, there is a list of ten buildings downtown in the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for apartments that are specifically singled out with justifications.  You may be surprised by how many buildings on this list of honorable mentions are still around today.  The first half of the list includes: The Avondale, 545-551 North Senate Avenue; The Celeste, 402-404 East New York Street; The Coburn, 205 East New York Street; The Deauville, 548 North Senate Avenue; The Eugenia, 302-310 West New York...

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Friday Favorites: The American Building

The University Park Building, The Architects and Builders Building and the American Building (2013) 333 N. Pennsylvania Street Some people you never forget. Some places you miss like old friends. Such was the case with me at 3:00 a.m. on April 17, 2013 — insomnia notwithstanding. The previous October, I had for the final time, departed the back door of the American Building at 333 N. Pennsylvania where I’d worked for nearly five years. Though it had some notable blemishes, I loved that old building. The smells… the creepy basement… the drafty stairwells… the inconsistent elevators… the sudden, unsettling spectral...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Kraft’s South Side Baking Company, 915 S. Meridian Street

Today a drive on South Meridian Street between McCarty and Morris Streets gives few hints that this stretch was once a vital commercial corridor heavily populated by the Jewish community. In the past one could buy nearly any product or service desired, from live chickens, to dry goods, to some of the city’s best pastries and rolls sold by local restaurants and hotels. Kraft’s South Side Baking Company is one of the long-time businesses that occupied the 900 block of South Meridian Street (about one block south of Shapiro’s Deli and across the street from the Greek Islands restaurant)....

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WTH Wednesday: Polyglot Plot

You see this and you think?… First of all, you’re likely having trouble even figuring out what to look at first? Windows: Wrong Various forms of siding: Disaster Was this a version of patch testing paint colors–try a spot of this siding over here and another over there to see which is most preferred? Same with windows? Whatever the case: poor house. Bet it was a sparkler at one time, complete with rocking chair on the porch that once...

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Pan Am Plaza

Over 26 years ago, Indianapolis was making huge strides in changing its struggling, rust-belt image out of that of a dusty blip in fly-over country into a mecca for amateur and professional sports. The national image of Indianapolis at the time was bleak. A Los Angeles Times article from 1986 about our preparations for the 1987 Pan Am Games begins with: Question: “What do you do for excitement in this town?” Answer: “You go down to the nearest Roselyn Bakery and smell hot bread.” Surely a pretty condescending way to begin an piece highlighting city improvements (though, truth be...

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What’s in a Name? – Spring Mill Road

Spring Mill Rd. Seth Bacon’s grist mill, called “Spring Mill” Once know as the Spring Mill-Williams Creek Gravel Rd., Spring Mill was named after an old mill site located roughly where present day Spring Mill Road meets Kessler Blvd and the White River. Seth Bacon was an early resident and businessman of Indianapolis and built the first mill in the town of Millersville around 1824.  He also helped found the town.  Bacon also operated a mill was located at the top of Crows Nest Hill on the west side of “Mill Road,” just south of what is now Holliday...

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Sunday Adverts: Indiana National Bank of Indianapolis

Courtesy of the Private Collection of Bradley Keen Before the days of online banking and tooth fairies who pay $1.00 or more per tooth, local banks like The Indiana National Bank of Indianapolis passed out dime (or quarter) savers, like the one featured here from 1959.  An account at the bank wasn’t required, though the bank hoped the user would open an account after accumulating enough dimes to fill the dimesaver. Indiana National Bank of Indianapolis was chartered as Second State Bank of Indiana in 1834.  When its charter was up in 1857, some of the same investors requested...

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Indianapolis Collected: The Hume-Mansur Roof Garden

Like every family, mine has it share of old stories that are hard to believe but difficult to disprove.  There’s the one about a distant uncle who supposedly froze to death on his married lover’s lawn in December 1924.  And another about a great aunt who may have murdered her husband with a lethal dose of heart medicine.  But one of the more interesting tales I’ve heard in recent years involves my grandfather’s first wife and the roof of the Claypool Hotel. As the story goes, she became deranged one day, climbed on the roof of the Claypool Hotel, and tossed money to the sidewalk below. This...

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Friday Favorite: Woodruff Place Home Tour

One week from tomorrow, one of Indy’s keystone historic neighborhoods throws open many a door of hospitality, showcasing the beauty and variety of Woodruff Place. Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 from 12-5, see one of seven homes, three gardens and the restored old Town Hall in the Woodruff Place semi-anual Home and Garden Tour. Dear Woodruff, always a go-to destination for visitors to Indianapolis–showing variety of style, scale and levels of restoration. Remnants of yesteryear: fountains, statues, a petite gazebo–all tickle the imagination. Originally purchased and platted in the early 1870’s, the park-like neighborhood was the vision...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Waverley Company, 139 S. East Street

Indianapolis made national news last week with the announcement that by 2014 the city will have the largest electric car-sharing system in the country. The Bollore Group, a French company, plans to replicate their Paris car-sharing program by investing $35 million into 500 cars and 1200 charging stations in Indianapolis. The phrase “everything old is new again” came to mind as I remembered the charming circa 1915 photograph of African-American millionaire Madam C. J. Walker driving her Pope Waverley electric car on the streets of Indianapolis. As early as 1896 the Indiana Bicycle Company on S. East Street began...

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WTH Wednesday: Irreplaceable

The first line of Beyonce’s song “Irreplaceable” comes to mind: “To the left, to the left.” Move that window to the left, to the left, for Pete’s sake. Bad enough the rectangular window has been replaced with an inappropriate tiny vinyl stock window. In the wrong place. Add to that the half circle window above and you start to read the past of this little cottage: it’s been tortured to within an inch of its life. Add the vinyl and odd configuration of life-size tinker toys (reprise: “to the left”) and we have the recipe for a perfect WTH....

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Albert R. Worm Building

Albert R. Worm Building at 1223 West Oliver Avenue – Photo by Ryan Hamlett A day after the Nationwide OTR Recycling plant at 220 S. Belmont pelted downtown and the near southwest side with toxic smoke and ash, I thought it would be a swell idea to get myself a closer look. However, IPD had (wisely) blocked off Belmont between Washington and Oliver Avenue, diverting lookie-loos with self-preservation deficiencies, such as myself, away from the smoldering mass of steel and huge, scrapped, earthmover tires. Heading east on Oliver, away from the site of the blaze, I came across a...

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HI Mailbag: Northside Chinese Restaurants

Reader’s Question: Back in the Fifties and Sixties, my family sometimes dined at a Chinese restaurant called the Mandarin Inn, which was as well-known for its steaks as it was for its Chinese food.  There were also several other popular Chinese restaurants on the north side of Indianapolis at that time, including Lotus Garden and Jong Mea.  Can you provide any information about these establishments?  ~  Ralph Drybrough, Tucson, Arizona HI’s Answer: Most people who lived on the north side of Indianapolis in the second half of the 20th century were familiar with one or more (usually more!) of the Chinese restaurants in the area.  There were not as many options for dining out in those days as there are now, so the Indianapolis eateries that did exist enjoyed considerable popularity.  They were family-owned businesses, typically employing multiple generations of the same clan, as well as their extended relations and friends of the families.  In addition to dine-in facilities, the Chinese restaurants were famous for their take-out service, long before restaurants with other kinds of cuisines got on board with carry-out. The Mandarin Inn was located in the Ma-Co Building on the southeast corner of E. 38th Street and N. College Avenue.  The original name of 38th Street was Maple Road, so the Art Deco building got its name from the first two letters of the intersecting streets, Maple and College.  The Ma-Co Building was the subject of a “Then and Now” article by Joan Hostetler...

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What’s in a Name? – Sargent Road

Sargent Rd. Jacob Sargent family, early landowners Sargent Road was named after the Sargent family, a prominent family of landowners in and around Lawrence Township.  John Sargent was born in Kentucky in 1818 and moved to Marion County in 1850, where he farmed land about a mile east of Malott Park. He was married to Tabitha Jane Sowers in 1850 in Marion County.  He died in 1901, and she died in 1917. They were the parents of Jacob Sargent, who was born in Marion County in 1851.  Jacob married Druzilla Harper in Marion County in 1873.  He died in 1935...

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Automobiles in University Park in July 1913

Twenty Indiana-built cars and trucks plus almost 100 people gathered around the south side of University Park for the departure of Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour on July 1, 1913.  At that time, the IAMA Tour was one of the largest transcontinental tours attempted in the United States.  Planning for this 3,600 mile trek took over eight months to coordinate all the logistics for the 20 vehicle caravan from Indianapolis to Los Angeles. The trek was more than an adventure.  It was making history.  At the time, most travel was in urban areas with nicely paved streets.  Otherwise,...

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Sunday Adverts: Indianapolis Engraving Company

The Indianapolis Engraving Company, featured here in a Chamber of Commerce advertisement from 1933, was founded in 1894 by H.W. Ballard and Ernest C. Ropkey as the Indianapolis Engraving and Electrotyping Company.  Ropkey was originally the treasurer of Indianapolis Engraving, but as evidenced in this ad, had risen to the role of president by the early 1930’s.  Indianapolis Engraving provided typesetting services for many local publications, ranging from yearbooks to the 1933 compilation of the songs of Stephen Collins Foster, compiled by Josiah Kirby Lilly for display at the Foster House. Ballard and Ropkey were both early Irvington residents,...

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Sunday Prayers: Rivoli Theatre

Downtown Indianapolis. Noon. At most tables, the lunchtime chatter was of clients, projects and “the kids.” But at our table—which was crowded with soup, a sandwich and notebooks—there was talk of an empty, dilapidated property. One on the Near Eastside, to be exact. The Rivoli Theatre, to be exacter. Jim Kelly, president of the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., tilted back in his chair, his hands folded. “When was the last time you saw a movie?” he asked me. I furrowed my eyebrows. “It’s been awhile, unfortunately.” “Well, let me ask you this,” he said. “How would...

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Flats Lost: I-65 Construction

Do you remember the Indiana highway construction of the 1960’s and 1970’s? Many apartment buildings, and even more homes, were demolished during the construction of I-65 – impacting all areas, but particularly Fountain Square and the Old Northside. Both areas were severed from downtown and their close neighbors, Fletcher Place and St. Joseph, respectively. Entire blocks were erased. In 1957, the state announced that it would plan freeways connecting downtown Indianapolis to the outer belt system (I-465) that was also being planned. In the early 1960’s, the state began purchasing homes, commercial buildings, and every other structure in the...

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