Month: August 2014

Sunday Adverts: Don’t Read This

Why, you little rebel! Well since you’re here, read on… J.D. Adams, King of the Road In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, the state of Indiana’s roads was deplorable: bumpy, pitted, rutted and treacherous. Spring rains would hinder not only travel but commerce. Consider these average travel times: – Indianapolis to Noblesville, 4 to 6 hours – Indianapolis to Lawrenceburg, about 3 days. – Indianapolis to Richmond on National Road (now US 40) 2 1/2 days – Indianapolis to Fort Wayne 5 days – Indianapolis to Westfield 54 hours Enter Indianapolitan Joseph D. (J.D.) Adams who cleverly invented the first...

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College Football in the Circle City Derailed: The 1903 Purdue Wreck

The 1903 Purdue football team of which fourteen members perished in a train wreck in Indianapolis. (Courtesy Purdue University) For many, this weekend marks the true beginning of autumn as college football kicks off across the Hoosier State. Thousands of fans will converge on college campuses across the state to take part in an afternoon of tailgating and cheering on the home team. Although Indy lacks a team that competes at football’s top collegiate level, we have housed plenty of memorable and significant college games. Though it is important, as we anticipate another season of excitement, to remember a...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Bird’s-Eye View North from Marion County Courthouse

Photographs of Indianapolis buildings prior to the 1890s are difficult to find. Clients typically requested portraits, so most photograph galleries specialized in capturing the likenesses of individuals. Fortunately a few local photographers added landscape and architectural photography to their repertoire in the 1870s and 1880s and some of their stereoviews have survived, including this rare ca. 1876 bird’s-eye view looking north at the city from the tower of the Marion County Courthouse, then under construction. In 1876, photographer John W. Pendergast (1851-1928) had connections allowing him access to the not-yet-finished courthouse. His uncle John Pendergast served as general contractor...

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Misc. Monday: Map Your Way Home via Trolley or Bus

1939 Indianapolis. Some of the streets have changed, but not the names–check out this map with street car, trackless trolley and bus stops in the epicenter of Indy. You could easily navigate from here to Broad Ripple or Mars Hill or other suburbs of old. In a recent conversation about how ‘The Circle’ could have more activity outside business and symphony hours, one person–quite rightly–asserted that without a higher concentration of immediate downtown residents, a constantly bustling circle didn’t seem likely. But what if we had a circulating trolley that dipped into the nearby neighborhoods, even two to five...

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Sunday Adverts: The Nose Knows

The Nose That Knows Kingan’s Meats! If you enjoy stories of a bygone time, there’s nothing better than losing yourself in an antique shop, at the library — or on eBay where this trade card was found. Trade cards were a form of advertising that began as early as the 17th Century and peaked in popularity in the late 19th Century. Trade cards ranged in size between a modern-day postcard and business card. They usually displayed a colorful scene on the “beauty side” of the card and store information on the opposite, “business side.” Today, these bits of ephemera are frequently mistaken for outdated...

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Indianapolis Collected: Mission Accomplished

The recent death of Lauren Bacall brought to mind the movie magic she made over the course of four films with Humphrey Bogart, her co-star and real-life husband. But while Bacall may have had Bogey’s love to herself when the cameras were turned off, she was not the only woman to capture his heart on the big screen. In The African Queen, Bogart and Katharine Hepburn charmed audiences with the unlikely romance between a middle-aged spinster and a codgy boat captain who takes her on a danger-filled trip down the Congo.  Bogart won the Oscar for his performance as Charlie...

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In the Park: Douglass Park

Indianapolis is a city rich in sports tradition.  We have the Indianapolis Indians, minor-league baseball’s second oldest team; the Indiana Fever, who won their first WNBA title in 2012; the Pacers, three-time American Basketball Association champs between 1967 and 1976; and our beloved NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts.  Let’s not forget the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts “the greatest spectacle in racing” each May, or the NCAA Hall of Champions, a museum celebrating the achievements of collegiate athletes.  But historic athletic events have taken place throughout the city, though most on a much smaller scale.  Many of these took...

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Out on the Town: An Evening at the Embers

Mid-century Indianapolis may have had the reputation for being kind of a snooze; the era spawned the less-than-complementary terms of endearment such as India-no-place and nap-town. For fun, you could always participate in the bi-weekly pigeon hunts held downtown on Sunday afternoons, but if that wasn’t exactly your speed, you’re still in luck, because the 50s were the heyday of the lavish nightclub scene. The hub of high-end entertainment was centered along Meridian Street, north of downtown. Many establishments featured elegantly appointed cocktail lounges and dining rooms that showcased live entertainment. One of the most prominent of these venues...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Gatling Gun Club, 707-709 N. Illinois Street

If you’ve ever wanted to own a post-Civil War era house with a rich history, now is the time to buy the Tousey-Nichol house, better known as the Gatling Gun Club. After serving as a home (ca. 1869-1909), Knights of Columbus lodge (1909-1919), and the Gatling Gun Club (1919-2008), the structure is again on the market for $345,000 and awaits a developer with vision and the funds to turn back time and poor remodeling decisions that a century as a private men’s club can have on an old house. A definitive date for the Italianate double is unknown and,...

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HI Mailbag: The Esplanade Annex

Reader’s Question: Our company has been renovating the Esplanade Annex for the past two-and-a-half years.  We are interested in learning a little of the building’s history, as well as who some of its past residents were.  ~ Christopher C.,  Fishers, Indiana    HI’s Answer:  If its walls could talk, the Esplanade Annex would no doubt have many interesting stories to tell about the people who have lived in the building since it was constructed more than a century ago.  As its name and physical proximity to The Esplanade Apartments and Flats imply, the name of the Esplanade Annex was derived from its slightly older sibling just across the street.  Both were built by the...

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Sunday Adverts: Did You Like Ike?

Lego-saurus Rex? Do you remember KangarIke, Ike Hopper, the Ikerville Flyer, Crockod-ike, Ikasaur, and Schmike from your childhood? Introduced in the late 1920s by the Knapp Electric and Novelty Company (1895-1940s), Krazy Ikes were a wooden construction set from which the manufacturer promised children would “build a thousand funny things — all different.” Krazy Ikes consisted of various pieces that could be assembled to make people, animals and silly-somethings best called… Ikes. The slender connector pieces were about pencil-thickness and one to two inches long. These could attatch to knobs on the body, head or foot pieces. As the popularity of Krazy Ikes endured, the...

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Behind the Scenes at HI: Optimistic Talk

If you didn’t yet know, we’ve cracked the door open to an awesome new….weekly HI newsletter. We want to make sure our loyal readers don’t miss out on new ways to fall in love with Indy through its history. Newsletter readers may be privy to exclusive offers, advance notice (and a deal or two) on local events–and some extra Indy history exclusives we won’t feature elsewhere. HI Team member Anne Schneider pulls together our weekly love letter to your inbox. (Thank you, Anne!) What else is included? Weekly highlights (and HI-5’s) for restoration work going on around town; a (sometimes obscure)...

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At Your Leisure: The Year of the Coliseum

The exterior of the coliseum shortly after construction. (Courtesy of eBay) If you’ve been living under a mound of red velvet funnel cake, you may not know it is the “Year of the Coliseum” at the Indiana State Fair.  The dominating structure bestowed with this year’s titular honors has been recently revived and reinvented after an extensive two-year renovation. The interior of the building was made current, now meeting the standards of a modern day visitor, while maintaining its austere, traditional appearance. But did you know that this wasn’t the first incarnation of the State Fair’s coliseum? The practice...

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Indianapolis Then and Now REVISITED: Harry W. Moore Peace Chapel, 2050 E. Michigan Street

Harry W. Moore (1902-1970) grew up in the family funeral home business in Brightwood and opened his first funeral home in 1927 at 25th and Gale Streets. In the early 1930s, he hired architect Leslie F. Ayres to design this charming chapel, located at 2050 E. Michigan Street just east of Woodruff Place. This photograph probably dates to the 1940s and shows firemen congregated outside of the funeral home in honor of a fallen comrade.   This Harry W. Moore branch closed in the late 1990s, and most recently housed Clubhouse 2050, a members-only club for singles and...

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The Arlington Theater

In between the days of the grand vaudevillian movie houses like the Circle and Indiana Theaters (now Hilbert Circle and Indiana Repertory) and the 23 screen multiplexs of today, small, independently owned theaters sprang up around Indianapolis. One such theater, the Arlington, opened in 1949 at the corner of East 10th Street and Arlington Ave, constructed at a cost of $250,000 ($2.4 million today) and sat 1100 theatergoers. Its first feature, You’re My Everything starring Dan Dailey and Ann Baxter follows two newly-weded actors on their journey from stage to silent films through advent of talking pictures. As television continued to...

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Sunday Adverts: It’s in the Cards…

A classic 7.5 by 3.5″ advertising trade card from an 1880s-era boot & shoe store on the Historic National Road in Indianapolis. Image credit: Ebay Trade cards: Predecessor to the business card, the trading card and the postcard At the beginning of the 17th century in London, businessmen began distributing small, decorated cards (similar to the visiting cards exchanged in social circles) to potential customers. These “trade cards” functioned as maps to help the public locate their stores, as no official address system existed then. This was the birth of the modern business card. In order to stand out from the crowd, some...

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In the Park: Washington Park

There’s nothing better than a sunny summer day at the park and there’s no better place to enjoy the summer’s most beloved activities than at George Washington Park.  When arriving at this 128-acre community park at 3130 East 30th Street, you’ll hear the laughter and joyful shouts of neighborhood children splashing in the spray park or climbing across playground equipment.  In one direction, an intense pick-up basketball game is underway.  In the other, a group of college students compete on the 18-hole disc golf course, while a walking group heads down a nature trail. Washington Park is more than...

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Nothing Beats a Day at the Ballpark

Panorama of Washington Baseball Park (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society) There are few greater summertime joys than an evening at the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and the intermingling scents of beer and freshly mowed grass paints a living portrait of a quintessential American Experience. The Indianapolis Indians have been entertaining fans for over a century as one of the five oldest continually operating franchises in minor league baseball. Most Indianapolis citizens are familiar with the beautiful surroundings of Victory Field, and lifelong residents of a distinctive vintage may recall attending their...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Better Babies Building and Hook’s Drug Store Museum, Indiana State Fairgrounds

Better Babies Building during the Indiana State Fair, 1926. (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, 99329-F) Had you visited the Indiana State Fair between 1920 and 1932, not only would you have seen the usual judging of livestock, you could have also viewed the scientific judging of babies in the “Better Babies Contest.”  This very popular event, and the ongoing work of the Indiana State Board of Health’s Division of Infant and Child Hygiene, helped achieve a major accomplishment by lowering the state’s infant mortality by one third during the 1920s. However, the...

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Penny Post: Your Home City

Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND., MAR 15, 1909 – 5:30 PM Received: CAMPO, CAL., MAR 22, 1909 – AM Message: Dear Katie – Are spending a few days in Indianapolis so send you a card that will remind you of your home city. This city is a beautiful one, I think and will have a population of 300,000 they say the next census. Lovingly, Marissa Addressed to: Mrs. A. H. Hollenbeck Campo, Cal. San Diego Co. A penny for your thoughts … According to the 1909 R.L. Polk Indianapolis City Directory, Indianapolis’ population was 240, 150. The 1910 City Directory reports...

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