Month: March 2016

Then & Now: Independent Turnverein, 902 N. Meridian

Postmarked 1917 Independent Turnverein Post Card, (courtesy HistoricIndianapolis.com) How lucky Indianapolis is that such detailed and well-crafted buildings still stand today–an unapologetic and ornate vestige of  yesteryear. This one, a magnificent red brick and limestone building started life as the clubhouse for the Independent Turnverein, on the northwest corner of Meridian and 9th streets, just north/across from another historic building much in need of an equally sympathetic restoration. But we digress. The Independent Turnverein hit the local news in January 1913 with a rendering and announcement that a $120,000 new clubhouse would be built on Meridian and Pratt (now 9th) Streets,...

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Sunday Adverts: Mad for Millinery

Image: Indiana State Library Name of Business: African Ostrich Feather Company Date of this Advertisement: March 26, 1916 Location:  State Life Building, 15-23 East Washington Street, Fourth Floor Neighborhood: Downtown, Wholesale District Service Provided: Millinery, Makers of custom women’s hats Notable: Millinery: a description of the service/product provided. Today, it is tough to find anyone donning head wear without the logo of a local sports team on it, but unique custom hats were prized by many women up until the early 1960’s — thank you, Jackie Kennedy. Although a few independent milliners still exist, this trade has largely gone the way of...

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Friday Favorite: Herman Lieber House, Lockerbie Square

Herman LIeber Cottage Indianapolis has so many fabulous neighborhoods, and much to love in each. Most Fridays, we will point to a favorite place in an Indy neighborhood, so that next time you are wandering in that area, you can see the HI pick for yourself, see if you agree and/or make a selection of your own. The Herman Lieber Cottage is a gem of a home in Lockerbie Square. With a broad gable, unusual second floor window and hexagonal attic vents with pediment hoods. The house was built circa 1860 on Liberty Street, which stretched south from Massachusetts...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis Public Library

Reader’s Question: I heard that the CEO of the Indianapolis Public Library was conducting tours of IPL facilities all around the city. I’m curious to know when Indianapolis first opened a public library and where the early library branches were located. ~  David B., Indianapolis      HI’s Answer:  Within a few years after Indianapolis was founded, libraries began to be established in various locations around town. However, their collections were limited in subject matter and availability.  The Indiana Law Library and the Indianapolis Bar Association Library contained legal volumes.  The Indiana Medical Society’s books pertained to medicine.  Many churches had libraries,...

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Gunned Down Grocer

As a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, during the “golden age of fraternalism” (circa 1860-1920), for one “brother” to shoot another sounds unlikely. All the more when the organization was founded to promote philanthropy, charity and with the ethic of reciprocity (a.k.a. “The Golden Rule.”) Unfortunately for Indianapolis grocer, Frederick Simon, who lived and operated his small business in what is now Lockerbie Square, beginning in the 1860’s, the implausible became the actual. Just like society in general, every social group is made up of a variety of personalities and propensities. In Mr. Simon’s case, participating...

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Sunday Ads: Shaping a Skyline

The Pearson Piano Company in the Exchange block circa 1928 (Image: Bass Photo Company Collection, Indiana Historical Society) You can always count on being inundated by a small forest’s worth of furniture advertisements in the Sunday newspaper. These days, acquiring that perfect furnishing may involve driving to a sea of strip malls in all four corners of the city, but for many years, Indy residents could head to 128 North Pennsylvania Street. That site also links to our modern skyline. The Vajen Exchange Block is one of the oldest facades left downtown.  Constructed in 1872 by German immigrant John Vajen,...

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Then & Now: Southside Synogogue, 609 South Meridian

Merrill Street didn’t always dead end into Meridian Street. The unassuming lot dabbed in trees today betrays no hint of its bustling former life. Merrill Street continued east, all the way to Noble (Noble later became College). That’s not all– what was 601 South Meridian once welcomed untold throngs to Congregation Sharah Tefilla. “Sharah Tefilla” translates to “Gates of Prayer,” and membership for this south side Jewish Orthodox synagogue was officially chartered in September 1882, though further south on Meridian. A number of Jewish communities and congregations were a key part of the culture on Indy’s south side.  What might be referred...

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HI Mailbag: Trinity Episcopal Church

Reader’s Question: I live in the neighborhood of Trinity Episcopal Church. I understand that it was not originally called Trinity. Can you provide its previous name, as well as a little of the church’s history?  ~ Jay van S., Historic Meridian Park   HI’s Answer:   The congregation that has been called Trinity Episcopal Church for the last 65 years was actually established nearly a century ago. However, it was not given its current name until April of 1951, and the present building was not completed until December of 1952. From 1919 until 1951, the church on the southeast corner of 33rd and Meridian Streets...

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Sunday Ads: Barney’s at The Lincoln

Ever wonder what Alexander Ralston might say if he strolled around downtown Indianapolis today? What was once a precisely planned city has been slowly butchered throughout time. The broad, diagonal streets that angled towards the Circle, giving the city many unique wedge-shaped, flatiron buildings and six-pointed intersections, have been neutered, mostly for fortress-like structures that kill street level activity. Today’s ad looks at a business that took the primo spot of a once grand hotel that stood at the sharp point of Illinois Street, Washington Street and Kentucky Avenue. The Hotel Lincoln opened in June of 1918 with only eight floors, not long...

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Learned something new? Question answered? New connection made? Generally inspired or entertained? Love Indy more?

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