Month: June 2014

Sunday Adverts: J. I. Holcomb Manufacturing Company

Business: J. I. Holcomb Manufacturing Company Year of this Advertisement: 1939 Location:  Barth Avenue and Palmer Street, former home of the Leedy Manufacturing Company (located there from 1903-1930) Neighborhood: Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood What they did: Developed and sold cleaning products Years of operation: 1896-1964 (purchased for $10 million by Premier Industrial Corporation) Notable: J.I. Holcomb was also part owner of Holcomb & Hoke, and vice president of the Board of Trustees for Butler University. Additionally:  In 1953, J.I. Holcomb and his wife donated $250,000 to Butler University to build an observatory, which is still a popular Indianapolis destination.  Have you ever been to the Holcomb Observatory and...

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Indianapolis Collected: The Fall of the House of Fletcher

When the youngest son of pioneer leader Calvin Fletcher graduated from Phillips Academy in 1865, he asked his classmates to sign an autograph book. “Dear Al,” one faded inscription reads, “As we hope to meet at ‘old Harvard,’ I need not bid adieu…..your friend and classmate, Richard T. Greener.” Greener would later go on to become the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University and the dean of the Howard University School of Law. But despite Greener’s optimistic inscription, Albert Fletcher never made it to Harvard, at least not as a full-time student. After repeatedly failing the mathematics portion of...

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In The Park: Fall Creek Greenway

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning.  I’m weaving in and out of traffic on Fall Creek Parkway en route to an 8 am meeting downtown and as usual, I’m running late.  I attempt to squeeze through an intersection before the light turns red, unsuccessfully.  I stomp on the brakes, nearly spilling coffee in my lap. I glance to my left and catch a glimpse of the newly remodeled leg of the Fall Creek Greenway where joggers give each other knowing smiles.  Butterflies and bees dance among the purple coneflowers and coreopsis blooms.  Passing cyclists are clearly enjoying their commute...

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Friday Favorite: History… Taking It Personally

What Is History? It’s a right and wonderful thing to save a venerable old building from the wrecking ball of “progress.” It gives great pleasure to saunter down halls provided by the craftsmanship and industry of our forefathers. Buildings are tactile, tangible. But, while historic structures and records and maps and streets provide the framework of our past, they aren’t History. History is stories. Experiences. Experience. We’re Losing This War… Every day a memory of the 20th Century – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappears. Yielding to the inalterable advance of time, our grandparents and parents are departing — often leaving us with no notion of...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: College Hall and the Daguerreotype of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Fletcher

1856 daguerreotype of Calvin and Keziah Fletcher. This is the only known image of Fletcher’s second wife. Note that the brass mat is embossed in the corners “W. H. Weeks” and “Indianapolis.” Click for larger image. (Indiana Historical Society, P120 Fletcher) This well-executed daguerreotype portrait, made at Weeks’ Daguerrean Gallery in College Hall in 1856, shows the prolific diarist Calvin Fletcher (1798-1866) and his second wife, Keziah Price (Backus) Lister (1813-1899). It is one of the gems of early Indianapolis photography and is preserved at the Indiana Historical Society. The industrious Fletcher, who settled in Indianapolis in 1821, seems...

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Penny Post: Write the letter to win the nickel

Union Station, Indianapolis, IND. Indianapolis’ clock tower railway station, designed by Thomas Rodd, opened in 1888 at 39 Jackson Place. The tower section of the station still stands in the original location, today’s 350 South Illinois Street. Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND – FEB. 22, 1923 – 4 PM Message: Indianapolis, Ind. 2-21-23 Dear Folks: Rec’d your card. Glad you both escaped the flue; so have we this winter – Mother not well but keeps going. We can’t keep her still. I am still gaining strength and weight too. We did not know about Sam Burford’s stroke. We may go over...

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HI Mailbag: Tab Recreation

Reader’s Question: I played several different sports at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church back in the 1950s.  I remember hearing that Tab’s recreation program was one of the oldest and largest church-sponsored athletic departments in the country.  Can you provide a little history?  ~ Becky in Florida HI’s Answer:  Tabernacle Presbyterian Church’s Recreation Ministry can be traced back to the 1920s, soon after the church relocated to its present site at 418 East 34th Street.  Prior to that time, the congregation had been located at 1101 North Meridian Street for more than thirty years. Founded in 1851 as Third Presbyterian Church, the congregation first worshipped in Temperance Hall on the north side of Washington...

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Misc. Monday- It wasn’t just zoning…

…that kept the use of the southeast corner of Illinois and Georgia Streets the same for so long. It was proximity to our transit hub–Union Station. Before the Severin Hotel was built in 1913, The Normandie, European Hotel stood one block from Union Station. It was opened in September, 1894 and room rates were 50 cents and up. One of the “finest appointed cafés in the city” was also found on the premises. Where and what is the shortest distance you’ve traveled between the transit hub and your lodgings? And the longest? Do tell, dear...

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Sunday Adverts: The Marott Hotel

Image courtesy of Evan Finch Business:  The Marott Hotel Year of this Advertisement:  Based on the fashions, circa 1960? Location:  2625 North Meridian Street Neighborhood:  Mapleton-Fall Creek What they did:  Hotel/ Apartments Years of operation:  November 25, 1926 – 1981, as  hotel + apartments; 1983 – present, as apartments only Notable:  Among those who reportedly once slept here: Clark Gable, Winston Churchill, Jane Mansfield, President John F. Kennedy Additionally:  George J. Marott also owned Marott Shoes and the Marott Department Store.  If you visited the Marott in years past, what do you recall about it? Marott Park was named for...

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Friday Favorite: Tech History Heroes

The Arsenal Technical High School Centennial Museum at 1500 East Michigan Street It’s part of the Historic Indianapolis ethos… helping Indy fall in love with its own rich and fascinating history, and applauding those who lovingly, and tenaciously preserve it. The latter is the case with the intrepid supporters of the Arsenal Technical High School Centennial Museum (ATHSCM), located on the campus of Arsenal Technical High School, in the original Arsenal Building, second floor, Room 8. As indicated by the name, the museum displays artifacts from the school’s better than 100 years of operation at the same location — but there are also items from the...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church – Schools and Rectory, Georgia Street and Capitol Avenue

View of the NW corner of W. Georgia Street looking east from Capitol Avenue (IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis History Collection, 1913 Indianapolis Streetcar Strike Scrapbook loaned by Deedee Davis) While documenting the increasingly angry crowds during the 1913 streetcar strike, a photographer captured the corner of W. Georgia Street and S. Capitol Avenue–a block that played an early role in Catholic education in Indianapolis. This view looks northeast at W. Georgia Street from the intersection of S. Capitol Avenue. Located directly south of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, these buildings served as Catholic schools and offices between 1859...

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Penny Post: Indianapolis Orphan Home

Indianapolis was home to three orphan asylums at the beginning of the 20th century, including the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum. When this Penny Post was mailed in 1909, the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum was located at 4107 E. Washington until it merged with the German General Protestant Orphans and the Evangelical Lutheran Orphans homes in 1941. Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND., AUG 16, 1909 – 2 PM Message: Aug. 15th This shows only a small portion of the “Home.” Cottages back. My Division is marked with X. With love LMC Addressed to: Miss Myrta Ware Belleville West Va A penny for your thoughts …...

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B. F. Keith’s Grand Opera House

A closed Keith’s Theater advertises “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” at the nearby Indiana Theater  Today, scaffolding surrounds the Consolidated Building at 115 North Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis as TWG Development, LLC restores the 1910 high-rise into apartments and retail space. But did you know that long before the last tenants, Downtown Comics, moved out of the R. P. Daggett & Co. designed building in 2000, its front doors once led the way to a theater that featured Indy’s first peek at a moving picture? On September 13th, 1875, on ground that once was the location...

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Sunday Adverts: Fendrick’s Restaurant

Matchbook scan courtesy of Evan Finch. Business: Fendrick’s Restaurants Year of this Advertisement: 1950’s Location:  110 N. Illinois Street and 231 s. Illinois – the two restaurants were four blocks apart and catered to travelers passing through Indianapolis Neighborhood: Downtown What they did: Restaurant Years of operation: 1930’s – 1950’s Notable: In 1955, Fendrick’s hosted the State Champion Crispus Attucks High School basketball team, of which basketball great Oscar Robertson was a member.  The entire team was African-American, and, at the time, this was a great step forward in promoting racial equality in Indianapolis. Additionally:  Fendrick’s, located near Union Station, was designed by the architectural...

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Indianapolis Collected: “Ghosts wept” as the Maennerchor fell

More than 1,000 members and friends of the Maennerchor gathered at its old hall on Washington Street in June 1906 to march through downtown Indianapolis to the site of the German singing club’s future headquarters at Michigan and Illinois. Following a lively cornerstone-laying ceremony featuring remarks by Mayor Charles Bookwalter, the group returned to its old clubhouse for several hours of activity that The Indianapolis Star described as “enthusiastic jollification.” Nearly seven decades later, however, the mood was neither jolly nor enthusiastic when the cornerstone was pulled from the rubble of the freshly demolished landmark and loaded on a flatbed truck along...

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In the Park: Marott Park

Welcome to Marott Park! Long before Indiana became a state, it was a lush forest filled with elm, ash, and oak trees.  It was said that a squirrel could travel from Ohio to Illinois by jumping from tree to tree, never touching the ground.  While 97% of Indiana’s pre-settlement forests are gone, either cut down by humans or killed by Dutch Elm disease, there are a few locations around the state where you can catch a glimpse of what the landscape might have looked like prior to the 1820’s. Indianapolis residents don’t have to travel far to reach one...

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Friday Favorite: Zig-Zag Cycling Club

What Goes Around, Comes Around… The recent surge in bicycle popularity, designated traffic lanes for cyclists, and issues of “sharing the road,” are not new to Indianapolis. Indeed, this “new” phenomenon is a REsurgence — more than 100 years after the first wave of bi-pedal preoccupation. BikeCentennial History… It’s commonly agreed that the first bicycle was invented in 1817 by a German named Baron Karl von Drais. The metal and wood confabulation was more of a “running machine” which the operator could sit upon while his legs pushed the apparatus along. It originally had no pedals. Von Drais’s first commercially successful two-wheeled, steerable, human-propelled machine came about a...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Vienna Flats, 300-308 E. New York Street

Vienna Flats, 3 March 1910 (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, W. H. Bass Photo Company, negative 18755) This view from 1910 shows the Vienna Flats, a 3 1/2 story brick, steel, and concrete apartment building constructed on the northeast corner of E. New York and Alabama Streets in 1908. Brandt Brothers and Company constructed the building for real estate developer and former shoe store owner George W. Brown. The flats had twelve residential units with businesses in the basement, including the New York Tailors. In the early 20th century, flats usually had four to seven rooms with a kitchen, while apartments of...

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Penny Post: St. Agnes Academy to Saw Lumber

From 1893 until a 1970 merger with Ladywood, the St. Agnes Academy was an all-girls college preparatory high school operated by the Sisters of Providence. Six years later, the Sisters sold the Ladywood-St. Agnes property to Cathedral High School under the condition that the new school would be co-ed. How did this week’s Penny Post early-1900 image of this prominent Indianapolis Catholic girl’s school find its way from Missouri to West Virginia? Postmarked: MAR 6, 1911, Flaxton, W. VA., 6-AM Message on Front: Elizabeth got the hare barrets (or bands), likes it well From dad 1911 Message on Back:...

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HI Mailbag: Lux Laundry Fire

Reader’s Question:  I have recently moved back to Indianapolis after living most of my adult life in Virginia.  I still have vivid memories of a fire in a business near my family’s home, when I was about three or four years old.  I am haunted by memories of the charred remains of the building and the smell of smoke that hung in the air for days afterward.  I don’t know the exact date or the exact location of the fire, but it would have been in 1950 or 1951 and in the Meridian-Kessler area.  The name of the business was Lux Laundry.  Can you provide any information on that...

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