Month: September 2014

HI Mailbag: New Augusta

Reader’s Question:  Since moving back to Indianapolis, after living out west for a number of years, I have enjoyed rediscovering parts of the city I knew when I was growing up.  The other day, I found myself in New Augusta and was overcome by a feeling of having stepped back in time.  Could you give a little history of the area? ~ Pam M., Indianapolis    HI’s Answer:  The area of Pike Township that would later be named New Augusta was purchased from the federal government in 1834 by Thomas Reveal Jr.  Reveal lived in Highland County, Ohio, at the time of the land purchase.  He and a number of...

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Sunday Adverts: Symphony on the Prairie (Literally)

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, photo Fabien Sevitzky, vintage booking Ad, 1938 Culture Comes to the Capital… While the roots of Indianapolis’s musical heritage trace back to the region’s earliest inhabitants, there is no question that performing arts, as we know them today, were boosted by an infusion of German immigrants that escaped the various European revolutions in the 1840s to settle in Marion County. Germans, who would comprise 25% of the city’s population by the 1890s, brought with them a traditional continental music training previously unknown on the Midwestern prairies. Traveling musicians visited the “capital in the wilderness” as early...

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At Your Leisure: Rene’s French Restaurant

What comes to mind when you think of French cuisine? Could it be an elegant dining room with tables draped in white adorned with intricate place settings? Perhaps an image of meals served with loaves of warm, crusty bread and an endless parade of wine pairings? Or could it be a plethora of glistening meat, game and fish coated in flavorful sauces whisked to perfection by chefs wearing the old uniform of all white, capped with tall white hats? Whatever comes to mind, if it involves Indianapolis, it must be a memory from long ago. The city no longer boasts one of...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Circle Park and Meridian Street

  Although faded and discolored, this extremely rare stereoview shows Meridian Street looking south from the middle of Circle Park (now Monument Circle) prior to 1870. Photographers and stereoview publishers Salter and Judd worked together for a short period from 1873 through early 1875, helping to narrow the date of this pair of albumen prints mounted onto a flat stereograph mount. They specialized in landscapes and views and most of their surviving stereoviews include a handwritten print or plate number and description. However, one must be cautious when assigning dates based solely on the name and dates of the...

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Baseball of Yesteryear

Did you know that the Indianapolis Indians have been around for over 100 years?  Or that Indianapolis hosted the Toledo Blues, a team with two African American players, all the way back in 1884, 60 years before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line?  Have you heard of the short-lived, third major baseball league, the Federal League; and did you know that Indianapolis’ Federal League won the Federal League championship back in 1913? Indianapolis baseball history is richer than most people may perceive.  This city has been a part of many major events in the baseball world that have...

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Misc. Monday: What to do in Indy, 1966

At the heart of any one of the weekly printed thin copies of “This Week in Indianapolis,” readers would find a map of Indianapolis, touting “key points of interest.” While we are better served today by multiple pages of maps, so much is there to do in Indianapolis of 2014, 50 years–more and less ago– the city’s attractions could be whittled down to a page. Check out this one from 1966: Or if you prefer it by list: Any surprises here? Any you miss, wish were still around, or that  need to make a comeback? Do...

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Sunday Adverts: Nuts for Holcomb and Hoke

Holcomb and Hoke made a fortune selling Popcorn machines from the 19-teens through the 1930s. Many of the machines had a peanut toasting attachment. Vintage peanut bag, ca 1920, eBay Just a Couple of Nuts… James I. Holcomb and Fred Hoke hardly knew each other in 1894 when they first contemplated becoming business partners after a chance meeting in a Sunday School class. Two years later, they established a partnership and business that would exceed their lifetimes —  The Holcomb and Hoke Company —  initially a brush manufacturer in Sullivan, Indiana.  This dynamic business-duo continually looked ahead for new, specialized products...

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Indianapolis Collected: Statehouse Eye Candy, Circa 1879

A small firestorm erupted last year when President Obama called his old friend Kamala Harris the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” And it wasn’t sparked by the 49 other attorneys general who may have felt slighted by the President’s off-hand compliment to their California colleague. Media commenters on all sides of the political spectrum either decried Obama for setting a “disgraceful example” or defended him for giving a harmless compliment.  Even Liza Minnelli weighed in on the controversy. A few days after the President issued the inevitable apology to Harris, his detractors’ concerns were validated by a survey released by the nonpartisan...

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In the Park: Spades Place Park and Brookside Parkway

Just down the street from Brookside Park, you’ll find Spades Place Park.  This thirty-one acre neighborhood park at 1800 Nowland Avenue is one of the Windsor Park neighborhood’s most picturesque features.  But it’s not Spades Park’s amenities that attract visitors so much as its simplicity. If you’re a long-time reader of HI, you know that Spades Park was named after Michael H. Spades, who made his fortune in real estate.  In 1898 he donated six acres of land straddling Pogue’s Run to the city and funded the construction of a shelter house and a bandstand on the property  Two...

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At Your Leisure: The Red Gables

It’s unclear what made this the “Most Streamlined Restaurant in the Middle-West” but it was clearly a point of pride. (Image: Evan Finch) When your travels lead you to the intersection of Lafayette Road and Sixteenth Street, you may notice the odd little building with a faded sign, promising “packaged liquor, cold beer, and carry-out.” The high-pitched roof gables and covered porte cochere are not indicative of a seedy liquor store, dive bar, or whatever occupied this space in it’s final incarnation, but if you look closer you can see large picture windows long since covered by siding and...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Meadowbrook Diner, 5151 E. 38th Street

Undated linen postcard of the Meadowbrook Diner (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) With three operating traditional diners and the recent explosion of food trucks zipping around town, Indianapolis is enjoying a diner revival with a nostalgic cult following among roadside architecture fans. Purists define a diner as a prefabricated building constructed specifically as a restaurant. Others broaden the definition to include old trolley and railroad cars later converted into restaurants (such as the Barge Fish ‘n Chips). The mobile restaurants have roots dating to the 1870s, when horse-drawn lunch wagons provided meals near factories. The later prefabricated...

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HI Mailbag: Pentalpha Lodge

Reader’s Question: In a couple of obituaries I’ve read, the people were listed as having been members of the Pentalpha Club.  What was the significance and history of the group?    Was it connected with the Columbia Club?  Only for business women? ~ Carol G., Woodridge, Illinois HI’s Answer: The organization about which you have inquired is a club in a manner of speaking, but the word “club” is not part of its name.  Pentalpha is a Masonic lodge.  Its full name is Pentalpha Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons #564.  It was founded in Indianapolis 133 years ago, next month. Masonic lodges were instituted in Indianapolis in 1848. ...

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Sunday Adverts: Norways for Nerves

Advertisement: eBay Concierge Doctoring… In the second half of the 19th century, organic and psychological causes of mental illness began to be identified. This led to an increase, nationwide, in the number of institutions dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment mental illness as a disease. Until the early 20th century, the state assumed the primary responsibility for the care of the mentally ill in Indiana — a situation that was constantly fraught with controversy. During this time, two institutions served the needs of the mentally ill in Indianapolis: the Indiana Hospital for the Insane (forerunner of Central State Hospital)...

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At Your Leisure: More than a Night at the Symphony

On September 14, 2014,  The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will hold its opening night gala at the Hilbert Circle Theater. It looks to be a fantastic evening as renowned Polish conductor Maestro Krzysztof Urbański takes the podium to lead the symphony in selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Indianapolis is fortunate to still have access to a large-scale symphony, especially considering such is only enjoyed by 16 other cities in the U.S. The special and sophisticated aspect of Indianapolis culture has grown and developed over time to become a staple of the Indy arts community. Considering as much, it’s sometimes hard...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Southeast Corner of Pennsylvania and Market Streets

Half of a circa 1876 stereoview looking south on Pennsylvania Street from Market Street (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) Merely a decade after the end of the Civil War, photographer John W. Pendergast placed his camera on a tripod at the intersection of East Market and North Pennsylvania Streets, then dirt streets traveled by horse-drawn carriages and streetcars,  positioned the camera to look southeast, and captured this view of the east side of Pennsylvania Street. Based on his other stereoviews advertised on the back of the mount, the date was probably about 1875 or 1876. Prominent buildings...

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Sunday Adverts: Van Camp’s Cookin’ Up Some History

History on the Hearth: Will translating A 90-year-old Van Camp’s cookbook into the modern day kitchen cause contemporary cooks some heartburn? Today’s cook has many ways of finding a recipe — books, magazines, web sites, television, packaging labels and, of course, Pinterest. But not that long ago, recipes were passed from relative to relative by word of mouth and rarely written down; “cookbooks” were rare. In the twentieth century, there was a tremendous burst of new technology in the kitchen (gas ranges replaced wood stoves, refrigeration, electric appliances, etc.). Food companies nurtured a middle class interest in cooking and entertaining by publishing pamphlets advertising the...

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Indianapolis Collected: Where Everyone Knows your Name

When he was 12 years old, Michael Hanrahan decided to run away.  For two weeks during the summer of 1907, he survived by selling newspapers on the street, making deliveries at City Market, and sleeping in the hallway of an empty building on Kentucky Avenue. When he was finally apprehended, the sobbing boy told a juvenile court judge that he ran away from home because he was afraid he would be sent to jail for not attending church. As The Indianapolis Star later reported, Hanrahan’s plan to avoid prison backfired when the judge ordered him to spend two weeks at the Juvenile...

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In the Park: Brookside Park

One of my favorite things about Indianapolis is that the city has something for everyone.  Whether you’re looking for unique cuisine, world-class art, kid-friendly activities, or the thrill of a sporting event, you can find it in the Circle City.  If you’re in search of a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, there’s no better place to play than Brookside Park. This 108-acre community park is located at 3500 Brookside Parkway South Drive.  In the summer months, Brookside’s pool and spray park are popular destinations for families attempting to beat the heat.  Kids can enjoy the playground while their caregivers...

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A Day in The Park: White City Amusement Park

A panorama from atop the boat ride. (Image: Indiana State Library) As Labor Day 2014 hits the history books, and fall has officially started, it’s only obvious to ask: how did Indy spend it’s summer? Some may have gone camping, some far away on an extravagant vacay, and many may have taken a day trip to one of the amusement parks scattered about the region. Unfortunately, the word “trip” truly rings accurate, as the closest oasis for thrill-seeking Indy residents stands hours away from Monument Circle. Believe it or not, there was a time when a closer options were...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Fountain Square Police Station No. 4 / Radio Radio, 1117-1119 Prospect

As Indianapolis expanded, it was necessary for the Indianapolis Police Department to move into the neighborhoods and by 1912 four substations had been established. This one-story cottage, located at 1117 Prospect Street in Fountain Square, housed Police Precinct Station No. 4. Two uniformed bicycle patrolmen pose on the front sidewalk. (Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company #27561) According to a report prepared for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1917, the four substations were leased to the city for about $1,000 per year. “Desk men” (possibly the man standing on the step) were paid $3.25 per day...

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