Author: Joan Hostetler

Indianapolis Then and Now: Askren-Rice-Eichacker House, 625 N. Edmondson Avenue

Thanks to local residents for submitting this historic photograph of their house, located just west of Shadeland Avenue at 625 N. Edmondson Avenue (formerly Rice Road) in Warren Township. The brick 1860s house  was part of the Askren dairy farm. In the circa 1900 photograph, members of the Askren and Rice families (including Carolyn “Carrie” Leona Rice on the far left) stand in front of the home’s picket fence.  Carrie married George Washington Askren in 1917 and they lived here for many decades. [Askren was the great-grandson of pioneer John Thomas Askren, who owned over 1,000 acres north of...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: National Surgical Institute / Imperial Hotel, Northwest Corner of W. Ohio Street and Capitol Avenue

The Imperial Hotel, 1904 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, 1904 glass plate negative made by the Detroit Publishing Company) This opulent Queen Anne/Romanesque Revival building, located north of the Indiana State House, has received little attention in historic circles, yet photographs commonly draw strong reactions. People either love it or they hate it. It was built in the mid 1890s as an internationally known surgical institute, serving this purpose less than a decade before housing various hotels until its demolition in the late 1940s. Dr. Horace R. Allen first established the National Surgical Institute in Charleston, Illinois...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Columbus Day Parade on Massachusetts Avenue

Cabinet card looking south on Alabama Street, October 21, 1892. The house-like float is on Massachusetts Avenue and Vermont Street runs east and west at this intersection. (Courtesy of the Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) This unidentified image by photographer Kreitlein appeared on eBay recently and luckily clues within helped pinpoint the location to the intersection of Alabama and Vermont Streets and Massachusetts Avenue. Playing photo sleuth we were even able to determine that the event was the Columbus Day parade held on the afternoon of Friday, October 21, 1892. Photographs can usually be dated within a five-year...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Wilmer F. Christian House, 404 N. Alabama Street

Architects such as Vonnegut and Bohn, Francis Costigan, and Rubush and Hunter are well remembered and celebrated in Indianapolis, but how many of us can name a contractor from times past (other than Jungclaus-Campbell, a family-owned business on Massachusetts Avenue dating to 1875)? Contractors and carpenters are the unsung heroes of our built environment since they interpreted the architectural drawings and made them a reality. Wilmer F. Christian (1838-1929), along with James E. Shover (1841-1911), deserve recognition for their 24-year partnership between 1866 and 1891 when they constructed dozens of houses and buildings in central Indiana.  They began with...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Circle Park and Meridian Street

  Although faded and discolored, this extremely rare stereoview shows Meridian Street looking south from the middle of Circle Park (now Monument Circle) prior to 1870. Photographers and stereoview publishers Salter and Judd worked together for a short period from 1873 through early 1875, helping to narrow the date of this pair of albumen prints mounted onto a flat stereograph mount. They specialized in landscapes and views and most of their surviving stereoviews include a handwritten print or plate number and description. However, one must be cautious when assigning dates based solely on the name and dates of the...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Meadowbrook Diner, 5151 E. 38th Street

Undated linen postcard of the Meadowbrook Diner (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) With three operating traditional diners and the recent explosion of food trucks zipping around town, Indianapolis is enjoying a diner revival with a nostalgic cult following among roadside architecture fans. Purists define a diner as a prefabricated building constructed specifically as a restaurant. Others broaden the definition to include old trolley and railroad cars later converted into restaurants (such as the Barge Fish ‘n Chips). The mobile restaurants have roots dating to the 1870s, when horse-drawn lunch wagons provided meals near factories. The later prefabricated...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Southeast Corner of Pennsylvania and Market Streets

Half of a circa 1876 stereoview looking south on Pennsylvania Street from Market Street (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) Merely a decade after the end of the Civil War, photographer John W. Pendergast placed his camera on a tripod at the intersection of East Market and North Pennsylvania Streets, then dirt streets traveled by horse-drawn carriages and streetcars,  positioned the camera to look southeast, and captured this view of the east side of Pennsylvania Street. Based on his other stereoviews advertised on the back of the mount, the date was probably about 1875 or 1876. Prominent buildings...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Fountain Square Police Station No. 4 / Radio Radio, 1117-1119 Prospect

As Indianapolis expanded, it was necessary for the Indianapolis Police Department to move into the neighborhoods and by 1912 four substations had been established. This one-story cottage, located at 1117 Prospect Street in Fountain Square, housed Police Precinct Station No. 4. Two uniformed bicycle patrolmen pose on the front sidewalk. (Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company #27561) According to a report prepared for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1917, the four substations were leased to the city for about $1,000 per year. “Desk men” (possibly the man standing on the step) were paid $3.25 per day...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Bird’s-Eye View North from Marion County Courthouse

Photographs of Indianapolis buildings prior to the 1890s are difficult to find. Clients typically requested portraits, so most photograph galleries specialized in capturing the likenesses of individuals. Fortunately a few local photographers added landscape and architectural photography to their repertoire in the 1870s and 1880s and some of their stereoviews have survived, including this rare ca. 1876 bird’s-eye view looking north at the city from the tower of the Marion County Courthouse, then under construction. In 1876, photographer John W. Pendergast (1851-1928) had connections allowing him access to the not-yet-finished courthouse. His uncle John Pendergast served as general contractor...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: The Gatling Gun Club, 707-709 N. Illinois Street

If you’ve ever wanted to own a post-Civil War era house with a rich history, now is the time to buy the Tousey-Nichol house, better known as the Gatling Gun Club. After serving as a home (ca. 1869-1909), Knights of Columbus lodge (1909-1919), and the Gatling Gun Club (1919-2008), the structure is again on the market for $345,000 and awaits a developer with vision and the funds to turn back time and poor remodeling decisions that a century as a private men’s club can have on an old house. A definitive date for the Italianate double is unknown and,...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now REVISITED: Harry W. Moore Peace Chapel, 2050 E. Michigan Street

Harry W. Moore (1902-1970) grew up in the family funeral home business in Brightwood and opened his first funeral home in 1927 at 25th and Gale Streets. In the early 1930s, he hired architect Leslie F. Ayres to design this charming chapel, located at 2050 E. Michigan Street just east of Woodruff Place. This photograph probably dates to the 1940s and shows firemen congregated outside of the funeral home in honor of a fallen comrade.   This Harry W. Moore branch closed in the late 1990s, and most recently housed Clubhouse 2050, a members-only club for singles and...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Better Babies Building and Hook’s Drug Store Museum, Indiana State Fairgrounds

Better Babies Building during the Indiana State Fair, 1926. (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, 99329-F) Had you visited the Indiana State Fair between 1920 and 1932, not only would you have seen the usual judging of livestock, you could have also viewed the scientific judging of babies in the “Better Babies Contest.”  This very popular event, and the ongoing work of the Indiana State Board of Health’s Division of Infant and Child Hygiene, helped achieve a major accomplishment by lowering the state’s infant mortality by one third during the 1920s. However, the...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Indiana State Fair, 1202 E. 38th Street

Among a group of old photographs found in the attic of an Indianapolis home were these three faded snapshots identified as the 1900 Indiana State Fair. Many people might have tossed the small, poorly processed, dog-earred prints, but luckily Elizabeth Robb saved them and when assembled through the magic of Photoshop they blend together to become the earliest known panoramic photograph of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Indiana State Fair had only been held at the new location at E. 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway for eight years when this unknown amateur photographer attended on September 20, 1900....

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: First Moravian Episcopal Church, 2502 N. College Avenue

Moravian Church and house at 666 E. 25th Street (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Dortha C. May) Us local history lovers frequently drive by empty lots in older neighborhoods and wonder what stood there before the current gas station or parking lot. Photographs and postcards help us envision the buildings that have long since disappeared. Thanks to Dortha C. May for sharing this ca. 1920 postcard of the First Moravian Episcopal Church that once stood on the northwest corner of N. College Avenue and E. 25th Street. Dortha’s mother had saved this undated photographic postcard of a church captioned...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Freund’s Pharmacy, 502 N. Highland Avenue

Freund’s Pharmacy as it appeared in about 1907-1908. The man in front is possibly William C. Freund. (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) Just east of Pogue’s Run sits a nondescript little triangle of land containing a rickety block building. It is bordered by E. Michigan Street, Michigan Place, and Highland Avenue between Holy Cross and Cottage Home Neighborhoods. The property was developed in the 1860s by the heirs of Governor Noah Noble who owned farmland from College Avenue (then Noble Street) east to Arsenal Avenue, and between Washington and St. Clair Streets. This area had been the...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now UPDATE: The Grand Hotel and Circle Centre Mall, Illinois and Maryland Streets

The Grand Hotel, circa 1876 stereoview by Indianapolis photographer John Pendergast (The Indiana Album: Loaned by Joan Hostetler) Shortly after the expansion of the Grand Hotel in 1875, photographer John Pendergast set up his camera and tripod near the busy intersection of Maryland and Illinois Streets and made a stereoview of the new building, then the most elegant hotel in the growing city. Since originally writing about the hotel in late 2011, I have acquired one of Pendergast’s nearly 140-year-old stereoviews and uncovered a newspaper article about the construction of the building. The Grand Hotel, on the southeast corner...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Court Street and Anthony’s Tavern, 128-134 E. Court Street

Court Street is one of those funny downtown alleys that became a street. A city ordinance prohibited taverns and saloons from operating in Indianapolis alleys, so the easy work-around was to reclassify some of the alleys as streets. The short east-and-west oriented street, located just north of Washington Street, only runs three blocks: one block between Capitol and Illinois Streets and two blocks between Meridian and Delaware Streets. The photograph shown below hints at the thriving street life somewhat hidden from view. This stretch of the 100 block of East Court Street hosted businesses such as restaurants, a barber shop,...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: College Hall and the Daguerreotype of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Fletcher

1856 daguerreotype of Calvin and Keziah Fletcher. This is the only known image of Fletcher’s second wife. Note that the brass mat is embossed in the corners “W. H. Weeks” and “Indianapolis.” Click for larger image. (Indiana Historical Society, P120 Fletcher) This well-executed daguerreotype portrait, made at Weeks’ Daguerrean Gallery in College Hall in 1856, shows the prolific diarist Calvin Fletcher (1798-1866) and his second wife, Keziah Price (Backus) Lister (1813-1899). It is one of the gems of early Indianapolis photography and is preserved at the Indiana Historical Society. The industrious Fletcher, who settled in Indianapolis in 1821, seems...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church – Schools and Rectory, Georgia Street and Capitol Avenue

View of the NW corner of W. Georgia Street looking east from Capitol Avenue (IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis History Collection, 1913 Indianapolis Streetcar Strike Scrapbook loaned by Deedee Davis) While documenting the increasingly angry crowds during the 1913 streetcar strike, a photographer captured the corner of W. Georgia Street and S. Capitol Avenue–a block that played an early role in Catholic education in Indianapolis. This view looks northeast at W. Georgia Street from the intersection of S. Capitol Avenue. Located directly south of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, these buildings served as Catholic schools and offices between 1859...

Read More

Indianapolis Then and Now: Vienna Flats, 300-308 E. New York Street

Vienna Flats, 3 March 1910 (Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, W. H. Bass Photo Company, negative 18755) This view from 1910 shows the Vienna Flats, a 3 1/2 story brick, steel, and concrete apartment building constructed on the northeast corner of E. New York and Alabama Streets in 1908. Brandt Brothers and Company constructed the building for real estate developer and former shoe store owner George W. Brown. The flats had twelve residential units with businesses in the basement, including the New York Tailors. In the early 20th century, flats usually had four to seven rooms with a kitchen, while apartments of...

Read More

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

Please consider supporting this community asset.

Pin It on Pinterest