Month: December 2014

Sunday Adverts: Happy New Year 1915

The more things change, the more they stay the same.” In exploring a local newspaper from 100 years ago, one thing seems obvious: not much has changed. Oh sure, the photographic and type styles are different, and the vocabulary varies a little. But, we appear to find the same things interesting as did our counterparts of the early 20th century: feats of sporting heroism, sage advice, the newest gadgets, the most audacious tragedies, obituaries, personals, foreign wars, local society… and of course, commerce. Please enjoy some of these New Year’s Day advertisements from the 1915 Indianapolis Star and let the...

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In the Park: Willard Park

One mile east of downtown Indianapolis on Washington Street, you’ll find Willard Park.  The land of this eleven-acre park had many identities in its history, but has always played an important role in uniting the community around it. Willard Park is named for William Willard, founder of the Indiana School for the Deaf.  Willard and his wife taught the school’s first class of twelve students in 1843.  Enrollment flourished and the school quickly outgrew its meeting space.  The state agreed to build a residential campus where Willard Park stands today, which opened in 1850.  The Indiana School for the...

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At Your Leisure: Post Christmas Movies

The exterior when the building was known as the Loew’s State in the 1920’s. The storefront to the south of the main entrance is Brosnan’s, which specialized in outfitting women’s fashion. (Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society) After the leftovers are packed in the refrigerator and the last of the wrapping paper has been picked up off the living room floor, it’s time to kick back and relax. The stress of the holidays is finally over. It has been tradition for many families to head out to the movie theater post-Christmas dinner for years, so much so...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ayres Clock Cherub

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, L. S. Ayres and Company Records, 22 November 1947 The L. S. Ayres cherub, one of the city’s most beloved little sculptures, makes its appearance every Thanksgiving eve and looks out over shoppers until Christmas. The sculpture has its roots in drawings created for the 1946 catalog of L. S. Ayres, the city’s premier department store. Advertising artist Virginia Holmes used angel illustrations to fill space in the somewhat sparse, post-war catalog and they became a hit. With their 75th anniversary approaching in 1947, the store commissioned sculptor and Herron School of Art...

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Penny Post: Yuletide Joys

Postmarked: IND., 1916 – 6 PM Message: My dear little Granddaughter, I have been wondering id you are going [to] hang up your stockings, like the little folks on this card & see what Santa will bring you. Of course he is not — to forget, little Elizabeth. We are coming up Christmas day if nothing happens to prevent. I wish you a —- happy time this Christmas. Much love, Grandmother   Addressed to: Miss Elizabeth Carr 63 N. Irvington Indianapolis,...

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HI Mailbag: Wood Lawn and Fletcher Place

Reader’s Question:  I am interested in the history of Wood Lawn, Calvin Fletcher’s farm.  By all accounts, the Fletchers came to Indianapolis in the 1820s, and the land that had been their home was known as Fletcher Place as early as 1860.    ~ Glenn B., Indianapolis    HI’s Answer:  Calvin Fletcher Sr. was among the earliest settlers of Indianapolis.  Born into a Vermont farming family in 1798, he left home at the age of 19 to seek employment.  His travels took him first to Boston, Massachusetts, and then to Urbana, Ohio, where he studied law in the office of an established attorney.  Fletcher was...

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Indiana during the Holidays: Celebrating through Trees

Three Indiana women and two children with a Christmas tree, circa 1900. Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society. The holiday spirit is in the air.  All over Indianapolis, people are preparing for the upcoming holiday celebrations– stringing twinkling lights on the outsides of their houses and brewing hot cocoa to accompany every meal.  Along with traditional holiday jitters, people all over the city are simultaneously preparing for the Polar Vortex 2.0 that Indianapolitans just know is right around the corner.  Despite the approaching weather, the defining factor of the holiday spirit is not the extreme cold.  Instead, the glistening,...

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Sunday Adverts: Iceman Cometh (with Coal for your Stocking)

Coupon book recently for sale on Amazon.com Irvington Ice & Coal Company Icemen and coalmen made door-to-door deliveries by wagon or truck in the days when the Irvington Ice and Coal Company began its operation at 412. S. Ritter. The company was founded in 1916 within the city of Irvington (now an Indianapolis neighborhood) by local businessmen (the Swartz and Thompson families) who were eager to fulfill a growing need for ice in the summer and coal in the winter. Though considered a bit of an aesthetic albatross amid the winding tree-lined neighborhoods of Irvington, the operation located near...

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At Your Leisure: The Hotel Washington

The Hotel Washington as it appeared in 1913, shortly after completion. (Image: Bass Photo Collection, Indiana Historical Society) Towering 17 stories over east Washington Street, The Symphony Center stands out gracefully among the other early twentieth century buildings nearby. Today, the building houses an array of offices, but did you know that at one point in history the building boasted the most modern amenities to guests of Indianapolis? The Hotel Washington at 32 East Washington Street was a dream come true for local hotel developer J. Edward Krauss. The former newsboy previously developed several smaller hotels in the area, but...

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Then & Now: White Castle No. 3, 660 Fort Wayne Avenue

White Castle No. 3, located on the northwest corner of Fort Wayne Avenue and Delaware Street, is the nation’s third-oldest surviving White Castle building. The small castle-shaped brick building, and hundreds of others across the country, primarily served small, inexpensive burgers known as “sliders” because the grease helps the love-em or hate-em burgers glide down the throat. Just two years before the Great Depression, this store opened  a wee bit smaller than seen here. Within a few years an addition was added to the back. Located just south of an Indianapolis Public School (Benjamin Harrison No. 2), former students...

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Sunday Adverts: Long gone Regal Guitar Mfg. STILL has the perfect gift for you!

I wonder what name they finally settled on! Advertisement from early 1901. Probably from a newspaper. eBay Regal Manufacturing Company was a division of the Wulschner-Stewart Music Company. Emil Wulschner (b. 1847)  immigrated to Indianapolis from Germany in 1875.  In 1888, he founded the Emil Wulschner Music Company and then shortly thereafter, he added his stepson, Alexander Stewart, as a partner so the business name was changed to Wulschner & Son Music Company.  (The name would change for a third time to Wulschner-Stewart Music Company after Emil’s death in 1900.) The Wulschner-Stewart Music Company printed sheet music, published original compositions,...

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Indianapolis Collected: Camp Ida Wineman

Sylvia Dichner Weiss grew up on the near-southside of Indianapolis, in a neighborhood she called the “ghetto.” When she was about seven years old, a public health nurse sent Sylvia and her brother to a camp on the banks of the White River that served sickly and malnourished Jewish children who were at risk of developing tuberculosis. Initially homesick, Sylvia soon thrived in the outdoor environment. She returned the following year, and the year after that, and each year thereafter until she was grown. “It changed my life,” Sylvia told me earlier this week when I reached her at home in New Jersey....

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In the Park: JTV Hill Park

A cold wind whipped through the bare trees as I walked the perimeter of JTV Hill Park.  There was no denying it: winter had arrived in the Circle City.  Temperatures are dropping, Indy Parks remain open.  Though JTV Hill Park’s baseball, softball, and soccer fields stood empty during my recent visit, peels of children’s laughter came from the playground equipment as a group gathered under a nearby picnic shelter. JTV Hill Park spans ten acres in the 1800 block of Columbia Avenue.  The neighborhood park was established in 1921 to serve the residents of the Martindale-Brightwood community.  It is...

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At Your Leisure: Jackets Required

1930s postcard showing the interior that became the King Cole. (Image: eBay) Do you have a special occasion coming up or just want to impress a first date? What would be your go-to destination? For nearly seventy years, the answer to that question could be found at Seven North Meridian Street in a building that is, to this day, nicknamed for the legendary restaurant that once occupied the basement: The King Cole. The ten-story building at the northeast corner of Washington and Meridian Streets is substantial for more than its prime location. The building was designed by Vonnegut, Bohn,...

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Then & Now: Kern Bicycle Shop/Crayton Confectionery, 1900 Block Howard Street

James W Kern’s Bicycle and Motorcycle Repair Shop at 1921 Howard Street, ca. 1915-1920. (Can anyone date these motorcycles?) This view looks southwest toward the intersection of Hiatt Street. James W. Kern is 2nd from the right. (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Nancy Netter) Strict zoning laws, while necessary to protect residential districts from incompatible businesses, have perhaps deprived us of one aspect what makes neighborhoods interesting and walkable…the corner store. In the early part of the 20th century, most neighborhoods were dotted with drug stores, taverns, house parlors converted into restaurants and shops, and small grocery stores. Reader Nancy...

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HI Mailbag: Musical Families in Early Indianapolis

Reader’s Question: I noticed a promotion for an upcoming concert by the DePue Brothers Band.  It made me wonder if Indianapolis has any history of musically talented families in earlier times.  ~ Steve L., Indianapolis     HI’s Answer: Indianapolis does indeed have a number of musically talented families in its history.  Among the surnames of musicians who performed with relatives in the late 1800s and early 1900s were Bassett,  Berthelson,  Danner,  Ernestinoff,  Floyd,  Frenzel,  Hendricks,  Jose,  Ketcham,  Krull,  McGibeny,  Lieber,  Mueller,  Pierce,  Recker,  Schellschmidt,  Steffen,  Willard,  Woodbridge, and  Woollen.  In most cases, they were duets made up of husband and wife, parent and child, or two siblings....

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At Your Leisure: A Night of Theater

This exterior shot from the 1967 Butler yearbook must have been taken shortly after completion due to the fresh pavement and lack of landscaping (Image: Butler University) An annual holiday tradition takes the stage when the Butler Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” over the weekend. Crowds will flock to the 2,200 seat Clowes Hall to see and hear yet another interpretation of this holiday favorite. Throughout the years, this unique structure has hosted a variety of performances and served as the home of The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Designed by Evans Woollen III in 1963, the whopping sum of $3,500,000 (nearly...

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Then & Now: Brightwood Hall, 2345-2347 Station Street

Indianapolis Free Kindergarten class in front of the Brightwood Hall, ca. 1904 (Butler University, Irwin Library, Special Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives, Eliza Blaker Collection) Life would be much easier for archivists and historians if everyone would simply label their photographs. But since our lives are busy or we’re just not motivated when we already know the people and places captured, many photographs end up unidentified in our albums, attics, and archival collections. When we’re lucky, photographs provide enough to clues to solve the mystery. Dozens of kindergarten class photographs are available online at Butler University as part...

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Penny Post: The Highest Building in Indianapolis

…Well, at least in 1916! Postmarked: INDIANAPOLIS 2 IND., MAR 12, 1916 – 5:30 PM Message: Indpls, Ind. Mar 12 – 16 Dear Parents, I arrived here all OK. I got here at 3:55 this morning. It was 1 hr late at Paris. I am feeling so fine when arrived here. Ha! Will write soon. Your L.S. Fred   Addressed to: Mr. & Mrs. C.H.Surber Malden Missouri A penny for your thoughts … Built in 1909, Merchants National Bank Building (currently home to Barnes and Thornburg) is 17 stories (245 feet) tall. Today, the Chase Tower is Indianapolis’ tallest...

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