Author: Joan Hostetler

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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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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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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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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Then & Now: Buddenbaum Grocery / Santorini Greek Kitchen, 1413 Prospect Street

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library Fountain Square neighborhood on the southeast side is becoming one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Indianapolis with a mix of affordable housing, a thriving commercial district, interesting cultural events, and many popular restaurants and bars. But to many of us, it’s the area’s history and older structures that give it character. Next time you visit the Santorini Greek Kitchen on the southeast corner of Prospect and Laurel Streets, try to envision a visit to the Charles H. Buddenbaum Grocery in the 1880s. Fountain Square’s two main commercial corridors–Virginia Avenue and Prospect Street–developed...

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Then & Now: Twente Upholstery Company, 1010 Central Avenue

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library Among the thousands of businesses to call Indianapolis home was the upholstery shop of L. G. Twente located at what was then 8 Central Avenue (today 1010 Central Avenue in the historic St. Joseph Neighborhood). Louis G. Twente (probably pronounced Twenty based on the number of times city directories and census takers misspelled the name) stuck close to the Fort Wayne Avenue and Central Avenue area as he operated upholstery, furniture repair, and antique furniture stores between the early 1880s and his death in 1909. The second-generation American was born in Louisville in...

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Indianapolis Then and Now Revisited: Zaring’s Egytian Theatre, 2741 Central Avenue

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company Collection #94388, 1925. This view looks east toward Central Avenue from 28th Street. After witnessing people jamming into packed movie theatres and sensing a good business opportunity, Indiana native Anzi Zaring sold his laundry company, bought a neighborhood theatre in 1910, and never looked back. He steadily expanded his business in the ‘teens and early 1920s, until finally constructing his dream building:  Zaring Egyptian Theatre. Zaring’s unique theater, located just north of Fall Creek Boulevard at 2741 Central Avenue, opened on November 2, 1925. Wanting an out-of-the-ordinary structure, Zaring hired Indianapolis...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Intersection of St. Clair Street and Massachusetts & College Avenues

With its prominent angling avenues creating many three-street intersections, it’s rather surprising that Indianapolis does not have any neighborhoods known as “Six Points.” But, newspaper searches and perusals of older history books reveal no such nicknames for intersections, such as this one at Massachusetts Avenue, N. College Avenue, and E. St. Clair Street. If not for the distinct tower of the Murat Shrine Temple in the distance, younger residents would not recognize this view of Massachusetts Avenue looking southwest toward downtown. The street beyond Haag’s Drugs is E. St. Clair Street and seen beyond the people to the right...

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Indianapolis Then and Now Revisited: The Empire Theatre, 126 Wabash Street

With at least three active burlesque troupes in Indianapolis, we seem to be in the midst of a burlesque revival. While the average person equates burlesque with strippers, the art form started in the late 17th century as a form of parody with humorous dramatic, musical, or literary works mocking and caricaturing more serious works. By the 1860s burlesque came to America and during the height of popularity (1890s through the 1940s) the popular performances were often presented in a variety show format in clubs and theaters. The shows featured bawdy humor, two-person acts, comedians, musical acts, and seductive dances and teases...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Other Benjamin Harrison House, 223 E. Vermont Street

Most everyone in Indianapolis is aware of the Benjamin Harrison’s Delaware Street home, known today as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, but did you know that he once lived in the Lockerbie Neighborhood? Born into a prominent Virginia family (his grandfather William Henry Harrison served as president, albeit for only 30 days), young Benjamin Harrison was raised in North Bend in southwestern Ohio. After attending Farmer’s College in 1847 (where he first met his future wife Caroline Lavinia Scott, the daughter of a professor) and graduating from Miami University in 1852, he became a law apprentice in Cincinnati. The following...

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Indianapolis Then and Now Revisited: Brenneke Dancing Academy Building, 602-606 N. Illinois Street

During the Victorian era when many of Indianapolis’s social elite had ballrooms in their homes, the city’s most popular dance instructor was David B. Brenneke (1855-1918). The German native lived for over a decade in Evansville where he took business classes, but was brought to Indianapolis in 1882 due to the influence of Mrs. Horace Allen, wife of Dr. Allen who ran the National Surgical Institute. Brenneke’s first dancing class in Indianapolis was taught to fifty people in the ballroom of the Allen’s house at 1305 North Delaware Street [the Bates-McGowen-Allen house]. His genial personality won over the upper-class residents, and...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ayres Clock Cherub

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, L. S. Ayres and Company Records, 22 November 1947 The L. S. Ayres cherub, one of the city’s most beloved little sculptures, makes its appearance every Thanksgiving eve and looks out over shoppers until Christmas. The sculpture has its roots in drawings created for the 1946 catalog of L. S. Ayres, the city’s premier department store. Advertising artist Virginia Holmes used angel illustrations to fill space in the somewhat sparse, post-war catalog and they became a hit. With their 75th anniversary approaching in 1947, the store commissioned sculptor and Herron School of Art...

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Then & Now: White Castle No. 3, 660 Fort Wayne Avenue

White Castle No. 3, located on the northwest corner of Fort Wayne Avenue and Delaware Street, is the nation’s third-oldest surviving White Castle building. The small castle-shaped brick building, and hundreds of others across the country, primarily served small, inexpensive burgers known as “sliders” because the grease helps the love-em or hate-em burgers glide down the throat. Just two years before the Great Depression, this store opened  a wee bit smaller than seen here. Within a few years an addition was added to the back. Located just south of an Indianapolis Public School (Benjamin Harrison No. 2), former students...

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Then & Now: Kern Bicycle Shop/Crayton Confectionery, 1900 Block Howard Street

James W Kern’s Bicycle and Motorcycle Repair Shop at 1921 Howard Street, ca. 1915-1920. (Can anyone date these motorcycles?) This view looks southwest toward the intersection of Hiatt Street. James W. Kern is 2nd from the right. (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Nancy Netter) Strict zoning laws, while necessary to protect residential districts from incompatible businesses, have perhaps deprived us of one aspect what makes neighborhoods interesting and walkable…the corner store. In the early part of the 20th century, most neighborhoods were dotted with drug stores, taverns, house parlors converted into restaurants and shops, and small grocery stores. Reader Nancy...

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Then & Now: Brightwood Hall, 2345-2347 Station Street

Indianapolis Free Kindergarten class in front of the Brightwood Hall, ca. 1904 (Butler University, Irwin Library, Special Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives, Eliza Blaker Collection) Life would be much easier for archivists and historians if everyone would simply label their photographs. But since our lives are busy or we’re just not motivated when we already know the people and places captured, many photographs end up unidentified in our albums, attics, and archival collections. When we’re lucky, photographs provide enough to clues to solve the mystery. Dozens of kindergarten class photographs are available online at Butler University as part...

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Then & Now: Billboards in Indianapolis

Billboards have had a long and sometimes controversial place in Indianapolis history and are in the news again as billboard companies lobby for a proposal to lift a decade-long ban on new and digital billboards. Residents will have an opportunity to express opinions before city officials vote on the proposal. The first outdoor advertising in Indianapolis consisted of hand-painted signs or handbills pasted onto the sides of buildings and fences. Color lithography and large-format posters first created for circus advertising in the 1830s paved the way for billboards. The earliest-known recorded leasing of billboard space dates to the 1860s...

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Then & Now: Criswell Mercantile Company/MacNiven’s Restaurant & Bar, 337-339 Massachusetts Avenue

Historic photograph courtesy of the Indiana Album: loaned by Evan Finch. / Modern photograph courtesy of MacNiven’s Restaurant & Bar For every Ayres or Vonnegut or Lilly, there were hundreds of business owners in Indianapolis who set up shop but just did not have the longevity to be remembered today. Some failed due to poor business sense or economic downturns, some moved on to other occupations, while others remained small by choice and made enough money to own a small house and support a family. Fred F. Criswell is one of Indianapolis’s business owners who is likely remembered today...

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Then & Now: Finch Park and the 1700 Block of Fletcher Avenue

Playing football in what became Finch Park, ca. 1915 Finch Park, originally located on S. State Avenue between Spann and Fletcher Avenues, has long served the Fountain Square neighborhood as a playground and park. Photograph lender Elizabeth Laslie shared this ca. 1915 image of her grandfather playing football in the park that was later named after the family of Alice K. Finch. Neighborhood resident Otto Dick is among the athletes in this community football league. A photographer captured them playing in lots that eventually became Finch Park in Indianapolis. It is unclear who owned the lots at this point...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Woodruff Place Gazebo, 800 block West Drive

“Woodruff Place ! … The whole addition is surrounded by a massive, artistically carved stone fence; all the streets laid with Nicolson pavement; all the sidewalks with stone; gas and water pipes to each lot; all the lots front on a handsome plat filled with hundreds of pieces of statuary, copies of the old masters, and large and elegantly designed fountains.” (Advertisement for McKernan, Douglass, and Witt, agents for the sale of lots in Woodruff Place,  Indianapolis People, 13 July 1873, p. 8) Woodruff Place was planned as an exclusive residential suburb on about 80 acres located directly east of...

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Indianapolis Then and Now: Roehm House, 1320 Villa Street

In this circa 1906 photograph, the family of Frank and Emma Roehm stand in front of their home at 1320 Villa Street. This south side street was located in a German neighborhood just north of Pleasant Run and east of South State Avenue. Roehm (1874-1954) , a son of German immigrants, made his living as house carpenter and contractor. He and his wife Emma Leota (Coble) Roehm (1875-1951 ) began their married life in this home where their three children (Robert, Frances Mary, and Dorothy Leota) were born. Typical of the area, the 1 1/2-story Folk Victorian cottage was...

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