Month: September 2016

Downtown Prices, 1821

Northwest corner of Delaware and Washington Streets, circa 2012 You already knew that Indianapolis became the capital of Indiana back in 1821. Any guesses as to how much dinero downtown real estate fetched back then? Picture this: October 1821, and this forested and muddy brand-spanking-new capital city needed to start selling the freshly platted Indianapolis lots. What would do wooded lots in a newly platted city go for, anyway? Check out this sampling of real estate sales in the first days of what would become our burgeoning metropolis: The lot on the northwest corner of Washington and Delaware Streets...

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Sunday Ads: Be a Good Sport!

Business: Em-Roe Distributors Date of Ad:  July 29, 1906 Location: Downtown – 209-211 West Washington Street Years of Operation: 1913-2015 Notable: Em-Roe’s, incorporated in 1914 by Lee Emmelman, was the leading name in sporting goods in Indianapolis for over a century. The company began as a wholesale distributor dealing in everything from clothing to appliances. Early on, they specialized in outfitting the weekend outdoorsman specializing in an assortment of tackle and rifles. Hoosier Hysteria was at its craziest in the 1950s and Em-Roe’s took full advantage, offering customized uniforms and equipment to area high schools. You might find a vintage...

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Then & Now: Laycock Manufacturing

Recognize this view? If you frequent the canal, it will look familiar, as a view from Bugg’s Temple. Ever wonder what may have preceded the current shiny newer business buildings? For this site, it was once “The Industrial Building”, built by Thomas B. Laycock in the late 1800’s. This booklet, published by the owners, has floor plans and interior photos of this entire complex. And what a fabulous place it was. It burned down before 1920 when it was home to the T.B. Laycock Manufacturing Company, maker of  iron beds. This was a model business, far ahead of its...

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Deja Vu Tuesday: A Tree Falls in Indy

Pioneer leader James Blake was a man of many firsts.  During the early years of the 19th century, he brought the first piano to Indianapolis, built the first plaster and frame house, opened the first mill, started the first charity, and supervised construction of the first Statehouse. Although others soon followed his lead, James Blake may also have been our city’s first “tree-hugger.” As plans were being made to build the first courthouse in the early 1820s, Blake was determined to save at least 200 of the majestic sugar maples that stood on the courthouse square.  Workers hired to thin out the...

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New Life at Central State Part III: The 1899 Building

The 1899 Building, formerly the Men’s Dining Hall for Central State Hospital. (Photo: When last RWAV headed west, we visited Central State Hospital’s Administration Building in the middle of its restoration and transformation into “Central State Mansion” by Reverie Estates. In the short time that has past, the Mansion is now a vibrant collection of artist studios, co-living spaces, and micro-offices catering to Indianapolis’ student and young creative professionals. As Reverie was completing the rehabilitation process for the “Admin” Building, it also had its sights on the near-by “1899 Building” and the potential it held. What is now known...

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Sunday Ads: Tip of the Hat

This Sunday ad from 1966 targets the “back to school” crowd. Who doesn’t want to dress to impress for the new semester? (Image: Indiana State Library) Business: Harry Levinson Date of Ad: August 18, 1966 Location: Downtown, Northeast corner of Market and Illinois Years of Operation: 1905-1995 Notable: Many can probably still hear the radio jingle “Harry Levinson is the place” in their head to this day. The Indianapolis men’s clothier was the place to stock up on the latest fashions for the preppy set for generations. The business, founded by Harry A. Levinson, specialized in men’s hats when they...

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Deja Vu Tuesday: Dear Indy – Please tell us your real birthday

In May 1920, The Indianapolis Star published a special edition commemorating the city’s Centennial celebration.  Then, in February 1936, The Indianapolis News came out with its own special edition in honor of the city’s 100th birthday. Now, I’m no mathematician, but based on everything I’ve ever heard or read, a Centennial only comes round once every hundred years. It’s always been my understanding that 1920 was the date firmly fixed by city leaders for the Centennial celebration; in fact, I’d written an HI article about the week-long festivities in June 1920 that literally involved a cast of thousands.  So I was understandably...

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Sunday Ads: Refreshment Delivered

Business: Robert’s Dairy  Date of Ad: September 2, 1956 Location: 4201 Millersville Road Years of Operation: 1877-1988 Notable: Do you remember home milk delivery? Or have you heard of it? Until refrigeration and supermarkets, most folks received frequent delivery of dairy products directly to their doorsteps from a local dairy. One of the bigger names in Indianapolis was Robert’s Dairy, which began operating in 1877. In 1930, they opened a vast new bottling operation on Millersville Road on the northeast side of the city. They even featured a giant cow mascot. Robert’s remained a dominant supplier of dairy products to...

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