Author: Guest Author

100 Years of Allison

September 14, 2015 is a special 100th anniversary day in the history of Indianapolis.  It was on September 14, 1915 that Frank Wheeler, Theodore Myers, Arthur Newby, James Allison, and Carl Fisher, filed the Articles of Association with the Indiana Secretary of State to create the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company.  Allison, Fisher, and Frank Sweet in a separate filing also created the Prest-O-Lite Racing Team Company.  Wheeler, Newby, Allison and Fisher were the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1915, with automobile manufacturers going out of business or curtailing their racing programs, and the lack of participation...

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Misc Monday: Preservation One Artifact at a Time

Ever wonder the worth of that old painting collecting dust in the depths of your attic? Or have you always had the feeling that your grandmother’s heirloom necklace is more valuable than the eye beholds? Historical significance is not always easy to perceive; it is something that people are trained to decipher, but once the true value is known, a simple object may become a most cherished possession. How to learn more about these underappreciated, historical artifacts? National Preservation Week runs from April 26 through May 2. Since 2010, the American Library Association has asked libraries across the country...

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Misc. Monday: Indy’s Most Famous Funeral Train

Abraham Lincoln was shot on Good Friday 1865, and died the following morning.  For three days, the fallen leader’s remains lay in state in the White House as a vast host of mourners filed past.  His funeral was held shortly after noon on April 19, 1865, with 600 guests, including General Grant, the President’s Cabinet, and Vice President Andrew Johnson seated in the candle-lit East Room. Sons Robert and Tad sat beside the casket, but the widowed Mary was too stricken to attend. After the funeral, a hearse drawn by six white horses brought the coffin to the U.S....

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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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Misc. Monday: Reminisces of an Ayres Christmas

Guest Author: Mary Jane Teeters-Eichacher For seventy years, from 1922 to 1992, the place to celebrate holiday traditions in Indianapolis was L. S. Ayres & Co. Animated window displays drew crowds of fascinated onlookers to L. S. Ayres & Co.’s downtown store.  Inside, the store was festively decorated with garlands of greenery spiraling around the massive columns and special trees.  Shoppers could donate to charity by buying a link in a paper chain. The whole first floor of the store was decorated with these chains. One elevator was decorated to resemble a fireplace and chimney, complete to the mantelpiece...

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Misc. Monday: William J. Forsyth’s Irvington Connections

Forsyth Irvington House ca. 1914, photo courtesy of Susan Forsyth Selby Sklar Guest Author: Rachel Berenson Perry Hoosier Group artist William J. Forsyth (1854 – 1935) lived in Indianapolis for most of his life. In 1906, he moved his young family to 15 S. Emerson Avenue in Irvington. The rambling, nine-room house stood on the corner of Emerson and Washington streets in a partially undeveloped area, bordering Center and Warren Townships. Nearby Pleasant Run Creek meandered north through pastures and woodland, providing excellent painting grounds, and a close by interurban bus stop made an easy commute to Herron Art...

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An Indiana History of Craft Beer

Beer—drinking the frothy beverage has been a part of the Hoosier identity for generations. From pre-prohibition production to the rise of craft beer in the 2000’s, the beer industry has been prevalent in Indiana. The first brewing operations in the state were in New Harmony and Richmond, both opening in 1816. In Indianapolis, beer has been made for over 100 years.  In fact, in 1864, Indianapolis had 57 saloons that served its population of 20,000. Seven years later, the number of saloons increased by 126%, as the population doubled. Prior to Prohibition and the 18th Amendment going into effect,...

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The Courtroom Where Jack Daniels “Got Served”

During the height of 1920’s Prohibition, the Federal Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis was home to a trial that exemplified many of the issues surrounding prohibition. It was dubbed “The Jack Daniels Whiskey case.” At the time, the Federal Courthouse was also home to the central post office and housed an array of federal agencies. Though the courthouse has undergone many changes in the decades since the trial, the murals on the walls in the courtroom, the judge’s bench, clerk’s bench, and attorney’s tables all remain the same in what is now the Honorable William E. Steckler’ Ceremonial Courtroom. “The...

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Baseball of Yesteryear

Did you know that the Indianapolis Indians have been around for over 100 years?  Or that Indianapolis hosted the Toledo Blues, a team with two African American players, all the way back in 1884, 60 years before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line?  Have you heard of the short-lived, third major baseball league, the Federal League; and did you know that Indianapolis’ Federal League won the Federal League championship back in 1913? Indianapolis baseball history is richer than most people may perceive.  This city has been a part of many major events in the baseball world that have...

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Misc Monday: Twin Oaks Home & Garden Tour

At 555 Kessler Boulevard, West Drive, Lyman S. Ayres II and his wife, Isabel, built a Colonial Revival style home named “Twin Oaks” in 1941. The Ayres family moved into the house in January 1942, one month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lyman S. Ayres II was the grandson of L.S. Ayres, the namesake of the once-beloved local department store. After World War II, the Ayres family continued to develop the property and hired noted landscape architect Frits Loonsten to design the extensive gardens. In 1955, Josiah K. Lilly Jr., whose grandfather Eli Lilly founded Eli Lilly &...

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Early Indianapolis and Indiana Photography

With the help of smart phones, people have the ability to take decent quality photographs at a moment’s notice–quite different than 100 or so years ago. In today’s technologically advanced environment, it can be difficult to understand the art and science of photography, or to grasp how far the industry has come. Indiana has many rich and interesting stories based in the early stages of photography. In 1897, the James Bayne Company–a photography company known for their photographs and catalogues of local goods from Grand Rapids, Michigan– opened a satellite office in Indianapolis. The company only lasted two years before selling its operation to one...

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What’s in a Name: Charlotte Place

We are delighted to have a first person account and guest contribution from former neighbor and artist, Dick Lutin, relaying the details of how Charlotte Place in Herron-Morton Place got its name. Editor’s note: When The State Fairgrounds were in this neighborhood, this section was named Winter Street, until Morton Place was platted, the name was changed to Boston Street from 1892, changed to 21st Street Annex around 1930. I moved to Indy in 1990 and in 1992 I bought the building at 110 East 21st Street for $13,000.00 from the Joy of All Who Sorrow church.  They were formerly...

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Discovering Alfred M. Glossbrenner

When my great grandfather, Alfred M. Glossbrenner, died on November 13, 1938, at the age of 69, The Indianapolis Star ran his obituary the very next day. The obit was on the front page, above the fold, right next to a story about the latest Nazi atrocity. The obit featured what I have come to think of as great grandfather’s headshot, the kind of eight-by-ten glossy that actors and musicians send out with their clips and reviews when hoping for an audition. It’s the same photo used in all of his obituaries and, during his lifetime, whenever an article by...

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Indianapolis, Lilly Played Key Role in Ending U.S. Polio Epidemics

You Are There 1955: Ending Polio will be open at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis until Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.  Mention you read this HistoricIndianapolis.com article at the Welcome Center and receive free admission through Saturday, September 14, 2013. For more information about Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Experience, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org. Guest contributor- Olivia DePaulis During the 20th century, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the United States.  Annual epidemics became increasingly more devastating, paralyzing and killing...

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A Brief History of Downtown Indy’s Canal

In the early 1800s, transportation and trade in Indiana and the United States as a whole was extremely limited.  People mainly traveled by foot, horseback, wagons pulled by animals or by water when possible.  Hoosiers developed a strong interest in improving water transportation when New York’s Erie Canal was successfully completed in 1825.  This canal served as an inspiration and a model for expanding travel and trade in Indiana. In 1836, the General Assembly passed the Mammoth Improvement Act to provide a general system of internal improvements.  The passing of this act provided funding for eight major projects to...

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A Personal Indianapolis Story of Love, Survival and Inspiration- Part II

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to feature this moving account from one of our readers. To read Part I of this story, featured yesterday, click here.  Again, many thanks to Janie Hensley. By Janie White Hensley When someone finally pulled me out of all the debris I refused to leave until I saw my parents.  Because we lived reasonably close to the coliseum, there were many nearby people who came to help who were friends and neighbors.  It was one such family friend who finally convinced me to go to the hospital with the promise that she would...

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A Personal Indianapolis Story of Love, Survival and Inspiration- Part I

This is the first first-person account written by an Historic Indianapolis.com reader–I hope the first of many. This story is deeply touching and is divided into two parts. The conclusion will run tomorrow, in honor of Mother’s Day. Read both parts, you’ll understand why. We all have stories to tell that connect with significant events in Indianapolis and we’d love to share more. Many thanks to Janie Hensley for her bravery. By Janie White Hensley It’s strange how people remember things. My life is broken into two main areas: before and after an incident that happened when I was...

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