Month: September 2013

Want to own some Indy History? Salvage of Schwitzer mansion

Exquisite Schwitzer Mansion, razed earlier this year. Some elements you see here are available for purchase. You could have owned a beautifully crafted piece of architectural history… Art and architectural treasures from the recently razed 1930s Art Deco mansion built by Louis Schwitzer were available to become part of your home the weekend of  of October 5, 2013. You may recall from Libby Cierzniak’s article in May, that Louis Schwitzer was a legendary figure in the history of auto racing, as well as automotive design and engineering. In addition to winning the first automobile race held at the Indianapolis Motor...

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What’s in a Name: Neal Avenue

Neal Ave. John Stetson Neal, landowner, former steamboat captain Neal was born in 1820 in Pittsburgh and spent much of his early life there learning the machinist trade and becoming a master engine builder. He also was fascinated by rivers and water and desired to make a career in the nautical world. He took his machining talents and applied it to ship building, where he would spend decades in the business. In 1841, he became a part owner and engineer of the ship Arcade, followed by the Revenue. He then built the Andrew Fulton, which sunk near St. Louis....

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Sunday Adverts: Van Sickle Radio Supply Company

I. Eugene Van Sickle, the owner of the Van Sickle Radio Supply Company, was born in Illinois in 1907.  He arrived in Indianapolis sometime later, and graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1925.  Before he graduated, he earned his Amateur Radio License, which was just the beginning of his career in the “ham” radio industry.  In 1932, when Van Sickle was in in his mid-twenties, he founded the Van Sickle Radio Supply Company. Van Sickle installed many of the early sound systems in famous Indiana venues: in 1939, he installed the sound system in the Indiana State Fairgrounds...

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Vintage Vittles: Booth Tarkington’s Lemon Pie

“He began to eat; he continued to eat; in fact, he did well. So did his two comrades. Not that the melancholy of these three was dispersed — far from it! With ineffaceable gloom they ate chicken, both white meat and dark, drumsticks, wishbones, and lives; they ate corn-on-the-cob, many ears, and fried potatoes and green peas and string-beans; they ate peach preserves and apricot preserves and preserved pears; they ate biscuits with grape jelly and biscuits with crabapple jelly; they ate apple sauce and apple butter and apple pie. They ate pickles, both cucumber pickles and pickles made...

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Friday Favorite: Growing up in Broad Ripple

Have you ever contemplated writing down your life story? If you’re like most of us, you entertained the thought for all of 10 minutes before saying to yourself, “Who would be interested in MY life?” Writing for HI, brings personal memoirs written by Indy area residents out of the woodwork. They vary in era, length, style and… “writership,” but what they have in common is this: fascinating contents. The eras of our great-grandparents, grandparents and even our parents were quite different than the era we inhabit now… but in reading these personal stories of strangers, you can better appreciate just how differently...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: West Indianapolis at W. Morris Street and Blaine Avenue

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was  A time of innocence, a time of confidences  Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph  Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you –Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel Boxes of family photographs for sale in flea markets and antique shops both excite and sadden me. As a collector and archivist I’m happy to rummage through and buy the discarded images, yet sad to know that they somehow slipped out of family hands. I wonder: Did the family die out with no descendants to claim the pictures?...

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WTH: Case of the Blahs

WTH? Will this hurt? Will this help? Located: north of 2200 block of Meridian Remove economic motivations, remove excuses, and ask yourself how far has this strayed from its original design? From an aesthetic point of view: is this compatible or incompatible, good or bad, worthy or unworthy  of the fine capital city of Indianapolis? Please bear in mind: the only purpose of this series is to stand for the appropriate renovation and redevelopment of the built environment of Indianapolis. No malice, no hostility, just an observation and inquiry. For those who need help or guidance in how to...

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The Graham Stephenson House

The Graham-Stephenson House in Irivington – Photo by Ryan Hamlett As the nights grow crisp and cool, the coming fall always reminds me of my childhood in Irvington. Though the October festivities at Connor Prairie are always a favorite, for me, Irvington has the market cornered in the Halloween department. And in an area with its fair share of history and haunts, there is a single building that stands alone in my mind as an example of something both beautiful and ominous. Riding in the back seat to pick up my father from work on Downey Ave., I always...

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HI Mailbag: Canary Cottage Restaurant and Cafe

Reader’s Question: I was wondering if in your research you’ve come across a restaurant or tea room called the Canary Cafe?  My grandmother lived on the west side and worked downtown in the Aetna Building from the late-1930s to the mid-1950s.  She would often have lunch at a place called the Canary Cafe.  She mentioned wonderful stories about how distant cousin Kurt Vonnegut Sr. would come downtown and take her to lunch.  Thanks for any information you may have. ~ Amanda G., Indianapolis HI’s Answer: The Canary Cottage Restaurant and Cafe was located at 46 Monument Circle, in the southwest quadrant of the city’s celebrated signature centerpiece. ...

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What’s In a Name: Oscar Robertson Boulevard

Oscar Robertson Blvd. Oscar Robertson, Hall of Fame Basketball Player Oscar Robertson, who grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from Crispus Attucks High School, is one of the greatest high school, college, and professional basketball players in world history. Born in 1938 in Tennessee, his family moved to Indianapolis where he grew up in the poor black neighborhoods on the city’s near westside. He was drawn to basketball, since it was known as the “poor kids’ sport,” and he learned how to shoot by tossing tennis balls and rags bound with rubber bands into a peach basket behind his...

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Sunday Adverts: City Cigar Store

This advertisement, from the 1859 Indianapolis City Directory, features the City Cigar Store, whose proprietor was Charles M. Raschig.  Mr. Raschig was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was born in 1836.  He came to Indianapolis in 1855, and opened the City Cigar Store the same year in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.  He had to briefly relocate his business while the Citizen’s Bank Building was built.  The business started small at first, but by 1883, it posted annual sales of $60,000 to $75,000 (roughly $1.5 – $2 million adjusted to today’s inflation rate). Raschig was noted as...

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Indianapolis Collected: The Ravages of the Road

“But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us suspect. They are here, and almost all things are going to be different because of what they bring.” Booth Tarkington, “The Magnificent Ambersons.” Novelist Booth Tarkington was living at the northwest corner of 11th and Pennsylvania streets when he wrote these words, in the red brick house where he grew up.  The year was 1919, and although “The Magnificent Ambersons” centered around the changes to downtown Indianapolis wrought by the advent of the automobile, it’s doubtful that even Tarkington could imagine the degree of...

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Flashback Fridays: Mary

Mary’s Senior Photo at Arsenal Technical High School, 1935. (From Archive.org). Indianapolis history is not just made up of buildings, historic homes, and age-old events. After all, it IS people who make history happen, so what better way to know Indianapolis history than to hear from life-long Indy residents? Every other Friday, HI is featuring some of Indianapolis’ oldest residents to unlock the personal memories and nearly forgotten stories of this great city. _ Some Indy folks are wary of having their stories floating in the internet cloud, and sweet, 95-year-old Ms. Mary is one of them. So, we’ll just keep...

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Friday Favorite: Driven to the Grave

  The Chevrolet Brothers – Louis, Arthur, and Gaston – were destined for greatness in automotive history but sadly, not wealth. Louis Chevrolet Unless you’re a racing enthusiast, Lois Chevrolet is probably best known to you as one of the founders of the Chevrolet Motor Company. He was born on Christmas Day 1878 in Switzerland.  As the son of a watchmaker, he showed an early interest in mechanics but little aptitude for school work, preferring instead to work for his father. Like most young boys, Louis Chevrolet became caught up in the popular hobby of the time: bicycling. He rode, repaired, and raced bikes — winning 28...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Bass Photo Company, 308 S. New Jersey Street

Much of Indianapolis’s visual history from the past century is known due of the  foresight of one commercial photography studio: The W. H. Bass Photo Company, located at 308 S. New Jersey Street from 1897 to the present. Because of the weight of hundreds of glass negatives, not to mention the space taken up by images that no customer is likely to order again, many nineteenth-century photographers either discarded or sold off their old glass plates to companies that specialized in reclaiming the silver from the photographic emulsion and reusing the glass (reportedly for greenhouses, but this use is...

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WTH: Give Me Gas.

WTH? Will this hurt? Will this help? Remove economic motivations, remove excuses, and ask yourself how far has this strayed from its original design? From an aesthetic point of view: is this compatible or incompatible, good or bad, worthy or unworthy  of the fine capital city of Indianapolis? Please bear in mind: the only purpose of this series is to stand for the appropriate renovation and redevelopment of the built environment of Indianapolis. No malice, no hostility, just an observation and inquiry. This gas station recently opened at 22nd and Delaware Streets, smack between two wonderful neighborhoods, Herron-Morton Place...

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HI Mailbag: Building at 122 East 22nd Street

Reader’s Question: Can you tell me about the businesses that have been located in the building at 122 East 22nd Street over the years?  ~ Jeff C., Indianapolis    HI’s Answer: In the years prior to the construction of the commercial building that is located at 122 East 22nd Street, the land on which it was built was the back yard of a single-family residence that sat on the northwest corner of East 22nd Street and North Talbott Avenue, facing Talbott.  The home was built about 1891 by Howard H. French.  He was a travel agent with Severin, Ostermeyer & Company.  After French’s death in 1894 — at the relatively young...

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What’s in a Name: Senour Road

Senour Road Edward Senour, early settler of Warren Township Edward Senour was born November 25, 1799, in Boone County, Kentucky to Phillip and Mary Senour who both hailed from pre-Revolutionary War Virginia.  Edward was one of their ten children.  Edward was married to Cassandra Wells in 1833 in Campbell County, Kentucky.  Edward had eleven children, and seven were raised on his land in Indiana.  With Cassandra, he had seven children:  Joseph, Richard, William, Mary, Nancy, Robert and James, all of whom were born in Indiana. Edward was an original land patentee of Marion County in acquiring 80 acres of...

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Sunday Adverts: Hoosier Coal & Oil Co.

Hoosier Coal & Oil, founded in 1917, used the above-pictured telephone index as an advertisement in the early 1960’s, and eventually copyrighted the  index in 1965.  The index included not only numerous references to Hoosier Coal & Oil’s contact information and quality fuel, but also useful household advice such as, “Oil Heating Hints,” “Public Warning Signals,” “Precautions Against Tornadoes – Strong Winds,” First Aid,” counterdoses for the ingestion of poison or overdoses of certain drugs, kitchen measurements and conversions, a “Transcontinental Mileage Chart,” information on the value of Social Security Benefits, and the caloric values of some common foods....

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Vintage Vittles: James Whitcomb Riley’s Jelly Cake

Returning, with a letter, which she laid Upon the kitchen-table while she made A hasty crock of “float,”-poured thence into A deep glass dish of iridescent hue And glint and sparkle, with an overflow Of froth to crown it, foaming white as snow.- and then-poundcake, and jelly-cake as rare, For its delicious complement,-with air Of Hebe mortalized, she led her can Of votaries, rounded by The Hired Man. – Excerpt from James Whitcomb Riley’s “The Child-World.” Read in full here.  There’s much to read more about our poet laureate James Whitcomb Riley and his Lockerbie home in the Historic Indianapolis...

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