Month: February 2015

At Your Leisure: The Hotel Antlers

The Scottish Rite Cathedral looms large on the northern fringes of downtown. Aside from the towering neo-Gothic architecture, a primary reason for its great presence is the existence of vast parking lots surrounding the building. Things were not always this way. A nine-story hotel served as a neighbor to the north for nearly fifty years, featuring some famous and infamous milestones throughout its life. The Hotel Antlers seems like a strange name but makes perfect sense knowing the building’s history. The 1920s were a booming time for private clubs downtown. Nearly everyone is familiar with the Columbia and (former)...

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Then & Now: Buddenbaum Grocery / Santorini Greek Kitchen, 1413 Prospect Street

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library Fountain Square neighborhood on the southeast side is becoming one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Indianapolis with a mix of affordable housing, a thriving commercial district, interesting cultural events, and many popular restaurants and bars. But to many of us, it’s the area’s history and older structures that give it character. Next time you visit the Santorini Greek Kitchen on the southeast corner of Prospect and Laurel Streets, try to envision a visit to the Charles H. Buddenbaum Grocery in the 1880s. Fountain Square’s two main commercial corridors–Virginia Avenue and Prospect Street–developed...

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Sunday Ads: Beef Tea for Beefcake

A beefy gentleman. Does anyone else find this 1901 Armour’s Vigoral advertisement a little… revealing? Perhaps you knew that Beef Tea was as popular as Darjeeling or Earl Grey in Indianapolis around the turn of the last century. It was news to me. Indeed, bouillon, a “concentrated protein beverage extracted from the essence of beef,” has been used to restore human health since the 18th century. Florence Nightingale used beef tea to restore fallen Crimean War soldiers. American Civil War soldiers were likewise treated. In the 1880s, commercial beef extracts were employed to make a quick beef tea. Some...

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In the Park: A Baaaaa-a-a-d Idea Turned Good

  The Indianapolis Parks system history is filled with delightful stories of united communities, honored heroes, and family fun. But there are a few tales in our city’s annals that might also raise an eyebrow or cause a chuckle. At the turn of the 20th century, the City of Indianapolis experienced a population boom. Plentiful jobs and an excellent quality of life attracted new residents to the Circle City, which in turn caused a demand for amenities and services. Mayor Thomas Taggart, who served as Mayor of Indianapolis from 1895-1901, urged the city to invest in parks and green...

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At Your Leisure: We Gotta Get Out of This Place

On these colder-than-cold winter days, one’s mind tends to wander to locales with a more temperate climate. Hawaii, the Caribbean, or… Utah. Anywhere the sun is shining and the weather is above 70.  Although Indianapolis is definitely a wonderful place to live, even the most ardent of city boosters begin to question their sanity as the cold weather stretches into February. Luckily, points further south are readily accessible, thanks to our modern airport located on the southwest side of town. The gleaming terminal that opened in 2008 provides a relatively hassle-free environment for travelers. Significantly, those who refer to this...

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Then & Now: Twente Upholstery Company, 1010 Central Avenue

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library Among the thousands of businesses to call Indianapolis home was the upholstery shop of L. G. Twente located at what was then 8 Central Avenue (today 1010 Central Avenue in the historic St. Joseph Neighborhood). Louis G. Twente (probably pronounced Twenty based on the number of times city directories and census takers misspelled the name) stuck close to the Fort Wayne Avenue and Central Avenue area as he operated upholstery, furniture repair, and antique furniture stores between the early 1880s and his death in 1909. The second-generation American was born in Louisville in...

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Sunday Ads: Measure of Success

Hundred-year-old medicine dosing glass advertising the Joseph T. Stokes Pharmacies, once in Indianapolis. Item recently sighted on eBay. The Joseph T. Stokes Pharmacies – 226 N. Meridian Street – 607 Hume-Mansur Building  As the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis tells us, the first pharmacist in the territory was undoubtedly a native healer, dispensing comfort and hope in the form of compounded indigenous roots, berries, and leaves. Early European pioneers relied on traditional remedies, superstitions, and nostrums brought with them from their place of origin, since there were few physicians to prescribe medicines in this region until the mid-19th century. An apothecary of the time...

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At Your Leisure: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

A promotional magazine ad from the late 1950s. (Image: Indiana State Library) Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and for many romance is, literally, on the menu. Few things set the mood more than a candle-lit dinner at an Italian restaurant, and Indianapolis is blessed with a fine selection of locally-based purveyors of pasta. One special institution, lasting over 40 years, was known just as much for its colorful owner as it was for its food. Macri’s Italian Village opened in 1951 at 2343 North Meridian Street in a former residence. This was prime real estate where much of post-war social...

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Indianapolis Then and Now Revisited: Zaring’s Egytian Theatre, 2741 Central Avenue

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company Collection #94388, 1925. This view looks east toward Central Avenue from 28th Street. After witnessing people jamming into packed movie theatres and sensing a good business opportunity, Indiana native Anzi Zaring sold his laundry company, bought a neighborhood theatre in 1910, and never looked back. He steadily expanded his business in the ‘teens and early 1920s, until finally constructing his dream building:  Zaring Egyptian Theatre. Zaring’s unique theater, located just north of Fall Creek Boulevard at 2741 Central Avenue, opened on November 2, 1925. Wanting an out-of-the-ordinary structure, Zaring hired Indianapolis...

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Sunday Ads: We’ve Got You Covered

Do-It-Yourselfer… Prior to the 1840s, this is how the world worked:  If you wanted to mail something in an envelope, you had to make it yourself. It wasn’t until 1840 that a Brit by the name of George Wilson patented a method of tessellating (tiling) a number of envelope patterns across a large sheet of paper. Then, in 1845, Edwin Hill and Warren De laRue obtained a British patent for a steam-driven machine that not only cut out the envelope shapes, but creased and folded them, as well. Hill and De laRue displayed their machine at the Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition of...

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In the Park: Fall Creek & 30th Park

Welcome to Fall Creek & 30th Park! Welcome to Fall Creek & 30th Park!  This seven-acre neighborhood park is nestled into a quaint corner on the north side, where Fall Creek Parkway angles northeast.  It features benches, two full-sized basketball courts, and picturesque views of Fall Creek.  With ample parking, it makes a great location for bikers and joggers to access the Fall Creek Trail. It’s hard to believe that one of the busiest thoroughfares in Indianapolis was once a dirt road. In the 1840s, the rural area was a place for travelers to stop for picnics as they...

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At Your Leisure: The Cyclorama Fad Hits Indianapolis

The northwest corner of Ohio and Illinois. The Cyclorama towered over the neighboring Rink Store. (Image: Bass Photo Company Collection, Indiana Historical Society) The first buildings that always stuck out when driving into Indianapolis in the 1980s and 1990s were the two large domed structures that hosted our professional sports franchises. Surprisingly enough, if one stumbles across a photograph of Indianapolis from the end of the nineteenth century or beginning of the twentieth century, another dome hovered majestically above the cityscape. The building belonged to an attraction known as the Indianapolis Cyclorama. It’s hard to imagine constructing a building for the sole purpose of housing...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Intersection of St. Clair Street and Massachusetts & College Avenues

With its prominent angling avenues creating many three-street intersections, it’s rather surprising that Indianapolis does not have any neighborhoods known as “Six Points.” But, newspaper searches and perusals of older history books reveal no such nicknames for intersections, such as this one at Massachusetts Avenue, N. College Avenue, and E. St. Clair Street. If not for the distinct tower of the Murat Shrine Temple in the distance, younger residents would not recognize this view of Massachusetts Avenue looking southwest toward downtown. The street beyond Haag’s Drugs is E. St. Clair Street and seen beyond the people to the right...

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Sunday Ads: Loveliest Logo – Dauner Coal

Coal company logo: surfaced recently among a pile of materials in a Carmel, Indiana, antique store. Dauner Wholesale Coal and Coke Company Bituminous coal has been one of Indiana’s most valuable natural resources since its discovery along the banks of the Wabash River in 1736. These resources began to attract industry around 1804, when public land surveys identified a number of outcrops. Indiana coal was part of the first cargo taken by Robert Fulton in the maiden trip of the steamer “Orleans” down the Ohio river in 1811.” It seems reasonably certain that coal was mined for local consumption...

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