Month: March 2015

Sunday Ads: Button It!

 Colonel Mustard… in the Library… with a Button Hook. Wait. What’s a button hook?  Long before the invention of spandex and Velcro, our ancestors wore a number of button-up garments, such as shoes, dresses and gloves. A Victorian era lady could take hours to dress. Without the assistance of a button hook (such as the one above recently found on eBay) to assist her with buttoning her garments, a corseted lady who didn’t have a maid to help her dress might never get downstairs to dinner. The basic design of a button hook was comprised of a handle and a...

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At Your Leisure: Why is that a Parking Lot?

The rooms and lobby appear to be very well appointed for 1960s standards. (Image: eBay) When enjoying a spring day on the War Memorial Mall, it is easy to become mesmerized by the vast island of green space in the middle of the city. Stretching for five blocks, this oasis is surrounded by various high and mid-rise buildings that create what appears to be a miniature Central Park, when observed from a high vantage point. Unfortunately there are some missing teeth in what should be a continuous wall of buildings surrounding the park. One of the more bothersome gaps...

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Then & Now: Zeunik’s Grocery, 777 Haugh Street

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, P69 Haughville Collection In the early 1900s, hundreds of eastern Europeans moved to a near westside neighborhood known as Haughville. The Zeunik family, with Slovenian roots, immigrated in the 1880s or 1890s and settled in Indianapolis by the early 1900s. Parents Joseph and Ursula (Radez) Zeunik appear in the 1910 census as natives of Austria-Slovenia and lived with their seven children in a house at 753 Haugh Street. The 40-year-old Joseph worked as a molder in a foundry (probably the nearby Haugh Foundry) and his wife managed their boarding house. Although the Sanborn...

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In the Park: 61st & Broadway Park

Just west of College Avenue in Broad Ripple, you’ll find 61st & Broadway Park. This quaint 2.7-acre neighborhood park opened in 1928.  The park’s amenities include a playground, picnic shelter, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, paved walking paths, and a spray park. Broad Ripple began as quiet farming settlement during Indiana’s early years of statehood.  Travelers crossing the state on horseback and by wagon found passage across the White River here when waters were low.  Grocery stores, saloons, churches, a sawmill, and a post office sprang up in the village.  In the mid-to-late 1800s, railroad and streetcar service brought...

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At Your Leisure: Rebirth Along Tinker Street

The neighborhoods bordering Sixteenth and Meridian Streets are some of the next “in” places to be. Much like Massachusetts Avenue a decade ago and Fountain Square more recently, years of reinvestment in housing is paying off as restaurants and other new businesses locate in old storefronts and abandoned gas stations. Although always an important corridor, the area stagnated in more recent history after the Herron School of Art relocated to the IUPUI campus and the recession stalled planned residential projects. Today this historic road, once known as “Tinker Street,” looks to be the hub of commerce for the historic...

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Then & Now Revisited: The Massachusetts Avenue Passenger Depot

The Massachusetts Avenue Passenger Depot, 1907 (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, William H. Bass Photo Company Collection) This week’s Indianapolis Then and Now column was originally published on October 13, 2011 and now includes updates. Although a psychic once told me that I “don’t have a psychic bone in my body,” as a local historian I sometimes see ghosts of Indianapolis’ past. Such was the case in October 2011 as I watched an army of red-shirted Lilly Global Day of Service workers paint murals near Massachusetts Avenue and E. Tenth Street. I couldn’t help but wonder what Hilton...

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Sunday Adverts: Keeping Indianapolis Beautiful

Let’s Face It Around the early 20th Century, there was a developing beauty industry in Indianapolis. And, as the whole country emerged from the ravages of WWI, there came a dramatic acceptance and use of cosmetics. The 1920s also saw the arrival of a particular beauty craze – complexion clays. Until the 1920s, the use of beauty clay was largely restricted to spas, salons, and barber shops, but around 1922, a number of companies in the US began to promote clay as a complexion purifier, each promoting its particular clay and aiming their advertisements at the individual consumer. The claims made by...

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At Your Leisure: From Films to Film Festivals

A 1940s view looking northwest on Virginia Avenue shows this recognizable building as the Granada Theatre. (Image: W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society) With spring approaching, many are looking forward to spending quality time outdoors. The development of the Cultural Trail over the past decade has succeeded in connecting once hard-to-access neighborhoods. With the introduction of the bike sharing program last summer, the stream of people enjoying the city is nonstop on nice days. When the trail finally made its way down Virginia Avenue, the long-proclaimed “up and coming” Fountain Square neighborhood finally...

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Then & Now: American Legion Mall, East North Street

Courtesy of the Indiana Album: Elizabeth Laslie Collection Uniformed members of Greenfield Knights Templar Commandery No. 39 pose on E. North Street in Indianapolis, looking north toward the Indiana Institute for the Education of the Blind. This undated photograph dates to ca. 1910-1920. The building was demolished in about 1930, when the school moved north to its current location at 7725 N. College Avenue and was renamed Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired.  Surprisingly, the Greenfield Commandery, chartered in 1897, is still active. (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) About thirty years later at the same...

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Sunday Ads: Raggedy Indy

 A Sweet Little Raggedy Doll and a Sweet Little Raggedy House at 537 N. Tacoma Avenue Raggedy Ann Once again, eBay serves as the source of inspiration for historical discovery! Last week, a rare 1915 Raggedy Ann doll in good condition with original dress was listed for sale at $1600 — a steep price for a doll that sported the name “Raggedy” from the get-go. The century-old legend of Raggedy Ann was the creation of Indianapolis native, John Barton “Johnny” Gruelle (1880-1938) who moved with his family to Indianapolis from Arcola, Illinois when he was a young boy. His father,...

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In the Park: Bethel Park

Bethel Park opened in 1935 Welcome to Bethel Park!  This 14.5 acre community park on the city’s southeast side is located at 2850 Bethel Avenue, and features athletic fields, horseshoe pits, a running track, and an outdoor swimming pool. Bethel Park is located in the Greater Southeast Neighborhood.  In Indianapolis’s early years, the area was sparsely settled.  The completion of the Citizen’s Street Railway turnaround at the intersection of Virginia, Shelby, and Prospect streets in 1864 brought new residents to the area.  Immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Eastern Europe made their homes near the rail yards, where jobs...

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At Your Leisure: Hoosier Hysteria in Indianapolis

It’s the first week of March in Indiana. Snow covers the ground in what will hopefully be the last stand of winter. This also marks the beginning of the Indiana State Tournament in boy’s basketball. Over the coming weeks, fans will crowd gyms across the state in hopes of watching their team play for a title in Indianapolis. The tournament began in 1911 and helped coin the phrase “Hoosier Hysteria.” For the first ten years of the state tournament, a champion was crowned in Bloomington, with the one exception of the 1919 finals played in West Lafayette. In a...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Charles E. Emmerich Manual Training High School

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection (ca. 1900-1910) In the early 1890s the old Indianapolis High School (later known as Shortridge High School) was overcrowded and had spilled over into a temporary High School #2.  School board members knew there was a need for a high school on the south side and gave their blessing for a new type of curriculum known as the Manual Training Movement that taught practical hand skills along with the traditional classes.  And so on February 18, 1895, 526 students and their teachers marched from the temporary high school to...

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Sunday Ads: Hot Product

Advertising postcard recently offered on eBay. The circa 1905 rendering depicts the manufacturing plant of the Home Stove Company.  Located at 501-535 Kentucky Avenue, it was bounded by Henry, Aug, Merrill and Eckert (later, California) Streets. Conquering winter has been more than a pastime in this region throughout all of its human history. One Hoosier made it his passion. The Cast Iron Stove Many of us lick our lips at the thought of waking up to a farm-style breakfast made on a cast-iron kitchen stove. After the 1850s, stove manufacturers produced large models upon which a farmwife might cook bacon, eggs, ‘taters,...

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