Author: Jeff Kamm

Sunday Ads: The Paper House that Felled a Landmark

Business:  Stationers Incorporated Date of Ad:  March 11, 1956 Location:  Downtown, 38 North Pennsylvania Street Years of Operation: 1932-1997 Notable: Before Office Depot or Staples there was a local leader in office supplies called Stationers. The Ober family-owned company opened in 1933 on North Pennsylvania. Two years after its founding, the store moved across the street to the When Building where it remained for nearly its entire existence. The company grew in the post-war era and had eight area locations by the early 1980’s. The company sold to a Dutch firm in 1995 and quickly began losing its market. The...

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Sunday Ads: Your Savings Store

Business:  S.S. Kresge and Company Date of Ad:  October 28, 1923 Location:  Downtown, 41 East Washington Street–at the southwest corner of Washington and Pennsylvania Years of Operation: 1911- 1987 Notable: Founded by Sebastian Spering Kresge, the company began as a five and dime in Detroit Michigan in 1911. In fifty years, the company would grow to over 750 stores putting them in third place behind Woolworth and Grant’s in the variety store segment. Despite the large portfolio of stores, the company remained primarily an east coast and Midwestern operation. This would all change in 1962. The company began researching...

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Sunday Ads: Goodbye City Life!

Business:  Glendale Shopping Center Date of Ad:  December 2, 1958 Location:  Keystone Avenue and 62nd Street Years of Operation: 1958-present Notable: Even though it’s only Halloween, shoppers around the Circle City will notice Christmas decorations beginning to pop up any minute now. In 1958, a new way to buy goods promised shoppers all of the finest stores in town without any of the hassle. The 500,000 square foot Glendale Shopping Center featured L.S. Ayres, Blocks and a host of other stores surrounded by acres of asphalt insuring a parking spot for everyone. Additionally:  Glendale thrived through the 1980’s. Times...

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Sunday Ads: Be a Secret Agent and Win the Jackpot!

Business:  Burger Chef Systems  Date of Ad:  April 6, 1966 Location:  1300 West 16th Street, and across the nation Years of Operation: 1958-1996 Notable:  Over a dozen years before the Happy Meal, local fast food stalwart, Burger Chef was in the game of enticing youth and their parents’ wallets to area restaurants with the secret agent contest seen above. Burger Chef was an industry leader in gimmicks to attract children. The Fun Meal, established in the early 70’s, featured the cartoon characters Burger Chef and Jeff and included colorful boxes and toy prizes. Their Star Wars toys remain a sought after...

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Sunday Ads: Music to Your Ears

  Business:  Wilking Music Company Location:  120 East Ohio Street, near Massachusetts Avenue Years of Operation: 1922-1995 Notable: For over 70 years, Wilking Music Company was the place to go if you wanted that glamorous Steinway and Son’s grand piano. Founded in 1922 by Frank Wilking in a small storefront in the 200 block of Massachusetts Avenue, the business grew to occupy the entire building. Many ads list the business at 120 East Ohio Street. Anticipating a big boom after World War II, the company moved to the Vajen Building at 114 North Pennsylvania in 1946. The company was...

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Sunday Ad’s: Hook’s for Drugs

Business:  Hook’s Drugs Date of Ad:  July 29, 1906 Location:  Various Locations, Originally Prospect and East (demolished) Years of Operation: 1900- 1994 Notable: A drugstore that became a household name across Indiana had humble roots. Started by a German immigrant named John A. Hook, his first pharmacy opened at 1101 South East Street not far from Fountain Square. Another early location stood at 318 East Washington Street. In 1950, the company opened their fiftieth store at the corner of Meridian and 38th Streets. By the mid-1980s, the Hoosier company dominated the pharmacy industry in Indianapolis and countless small towns in the...

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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 1950’s and Em-Roe’s took full advantage, offering customized uniforms and equipment to area high schools. You might find a...

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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...

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Sunday: 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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Sunday Ads: Antiseptic Refrigeration? A National Craze

  Business:  National Furniture Company Date of Ad: August 6, 1916 Location:  335-343 West Washington Street, downtown Indianapolis Years of Operation: 1899- 1958 Notable: The dog days of summer have everyone looking for a way to cool down. A hundred years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to keep the butter from melting and the milk from spoiling. The technology of the day consisted of the icebox: wooden cabinets featuring a zinc lining where food could be stored with a large block of ice. Ice was delivered by “icemen,” who would haul chunks harvested from the arctic regions and kept in large warehouses known as...

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Sunday Ads: We’re All Nuts

Business:  Morrow’s Nut House Date of Ad:  December 30, 1945 Location:  50 North Pennsylvania Street, 46 West Washington and various downtown locations Years of Operation: 1933- 1989 Notable: If you grew up in Indianapolis in the 1940’s, 50’s or 60’s, a day’s shopping often included hopping on a bus and going downtown. Believe it or not, city buses dispersed their riders directly on Monument Circle. If you were good, chances are you received a treat from Morrow’s Nut House located in the Test Building. The purveyor of hot cashew nuts and sweet candies had a multitude of locations, including...

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Sunday Ads: Burlesque at Empire

Name of Business: The Empire Theater Date of Ad: April 13, 1913 Date Established: 1892 Neighborhood: Downtown Notable: Promising a bevy of pretty and sprightly girls, the star attraction, Zallah, featured her own company. A review from George Slaughter republished in the Indianapolis Freeman shortly before the engagement promised “the most meritorious and original show to ever be performed on the burlesque circuit.”A Cabaret Rehearsal” and “The Un-kissed Oriental” where the titles of the two musical reviews performed. Zallah was an Egyptian dancer who’s act catered to African American audiences. Also of Note: The Empire Theater had a fitting...

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Sunday Ads: More Than Just Jewelry

Goodman Jewelers at 30 West Washington Street dabbled in “slenderizing” equipment back in the 1950s (Courtesy Indiana State Library) Business:  Goodman Jewelers Date of this Advertisement:  April 12, 1959 Location:  30 West Washington Street Neighborhood:  Downtown Goods:  Jewelry and more Years of Operation: 1949-1999 Notable: Believe it or not, swimsuit season is just around the corner.  These days, it seems most everyone is a fan of instant gratification. Who wants to bother with exercising, when you could just have a machine do all of the work? It appears a long-standing jeweler saw the sales potential in such a promotion and began...

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Sunday Adverts: Saving for a Rainy Day

Name of Business: Fidelity Trust Company Date of Advertisement:  April 1, 1956 Neighborhood:  Midtown Service Provided: Banking Notable:  The Fidelity Trust Company began banking in Indianapolis in 1909, with William Fogerty serving as the first president. The organization had an eight-story building constructed in 1915 at 148-150-152 East Market Street, which still stands today. By 1956, the local institution had grown to eight branch locations scattered across the city. In July of 1959, Fidelity was absorbed by local banking heavyweight American Fletcher National Bank. AFNB became a part of Bank One in the mid 1980’s before succumbing to national giant...

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Sunday Adverts: Mad for Millinery

Courtesy 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 headwear without the logo of a local sports team on it, but unique custom hats were prized by many women up until the early 1960s–thank you, Jackie Kennedy. Although a few independent milliners still exist, this trade has largely gone the way of the silversmith....

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Sunday Ads: Shaping a Skyline

The Pearson Piano Company in the Exchange block circa 1928 (Courtesy 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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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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Sunday Ads: Selig’s

When considering Indy’s shopping legacy, many think of longtime institutions, L. S. Ayres, William. H. Block’s, or Wasson’s. While those venerable names are still remembered fondly by many, other retailers offered similar experiences and had a fine reputation not only in the circle city, but across the country. Unfortunately, many stores did not survive the Great Depression. One of those was the Selig Dry Good Company, which offered fine women’s apparel and other items from 1890 until disbanding in 1932. In 1908, the store moved into the high rent retail district along West Washington Street. After the move, the...

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At Your Leisure: On Tour

The La Tour dining room in all of its swanky seventies glory (Courtesy eBay) Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Many a couple enjoyed a romantic dinner downtown on the holiday of love. Wonder what options you might have had in years past? In the Seventies, you had several options for skyscraper dining, including The Eagles Nest atop the Hyatt Regency and the Carousel overlooking Monument Circle in the Hilton. Probably the most notable locale for budding lovers was La Tour, perched high above the Indiana National Bank Building. The French restaurant was a go-to destination for nearly two decades....

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At Your Leisure: Hamming it Up

Indy natives believe that Shapiro’s is the first, last and only name in delicatessen dining. First timers may walk away disappointed, however, if they are craving a certain Hoosier-beloved pig-filled sandwich. No Kosher deli worth its salt would carry ham on its menu. For over seventy years, there was an alternative to the south side favorite. Weiss Deli was a staple for downtown lunch goers for years, dishing out succulent ham sandwiches with a sweet, crispy glaze, on chewy egg buns. The business began in 1920. Ironically enough, it was a German Jewish immigrant by the name of Martin Weiss who created this...

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