Author: Nathan Bilger

Sunday Prayer: Oliver and Warren Buildings

As the final Sunday Prayer for July, we’d like to offer these buildings in the 1200 block of Oliver Avenue. With the right owners and tenants, they could have the potential for futures as interesting as their pasts. One hundred years ago, the corner of Oliver and Warren Avenues was a commercial haven, with a dozen or so stores, two saloons, and a movie theater on both sides of the street. Notably, on the second floor of the Albert Worm building, 1229 West Oliver, was Worm’s Hotel. What a name. The hotel was above four store fronts in two...

Read More

Sunday Adverts: Hotel Harrison

Today’s advertisement is actually stationary from the Hotel Harrison. Of course, stationary emblazened with the image of the hotel had to have been pretty effective advertising. Hotel Harrison was built in 1928, one of the last old guard hotels in Indianapolis, at the southeast corner of Market and Capitol. It lasted into the 1970s before being converted to an office...

Read More

Hotel Edward

103 years ago today, this postcard from the Hotel Edward was mailed to Evansville… The Hotel Edward was built at the corner of Illinois Street and Chesapeake Street (126-130 S. Illinois) in 1907, along with the Majestic Theater behind the hotel. At the time, it was one of seven hotels facing onto this one block of Illinois Street. The entrance to the theater fronted onto Illinois through the hotel building, as seen in this 1914 Sanborn map clipping… By 1950, the hotel’s name had changed to the Earle Hotel, and the Majestic became the Mutual Theater. Between 1956 and...

Read More

Indianapolis Hotels of 1933

The convention map, showing major hotels and landmarks. In October 1933, the American Public Health Association held their annual meeting/convention in Indianapolis at the Claypool Hotel. While I am sure there were many very important topics discussed at the convention, of particular interest to us now is the convention’s program. In the program, they generously provided the attendees information about the city, including a map of downtown Indianapolis showing the landmarks and major hotels, and rates for those hotels. Here are the rates for the convention hotels–not all of the above hotels are listed, nor are all the listed...

Read More

Illinois House

From an 1883 directory of Indianapolis hotels is this listing for the Illinois House, located on the east side of Illinois Street, just south of the Union Depot. ILLINOIS HOUSE, WILLIAM ESSMANN, PROPRIETOR, 181, 183 AND 185 ILLINOIS ST. This is one of the most popular and well kept houses of its class in the city. Mr. Essmann established the Illinois House more than a score of years ago in a modest, unpretending frame structure on the site of his present commodious edifice, and to accommodate his steadily increasing business has from time to time made additions and improvements,...

Read More

An Englishman’s Stay in Indianapolis, 1851

In the early 1850s, Englishman J. Richard Beste and his family came to America and toured the interior, including Indianapolis. As was popular at the time, he wrote a travelogue “The Wabash: or Adventures of an English Gentleman’s Family in the Interior of America” upon his return in 1855. The family had come to Indianapolis via the railroad from Madison, and stayed at one of the city’s early hotels. You might remember seeing an advertisement for Wright’s House in this collection of hotel ads earlier this month. It was located on Washington Street, between Meridian and Pennsylvania. The house was not the fanciest hotel in town, but wasn’t an economy stay either. Here are Mr. Beste’s notes on his hotel stay in Indianapolis in late June, 1851… Mr. Turtle, the proprietor or manager of the Wright’s House hotel at Indianapolis, seemed to think his premises already too full to accommodate my party; but he showed me a wing of the house, running back between yards and gardens, which I could have if the apartment would suit me. There were several bedrooms, side by side, all communicating with an open balcony and trellis-wood shaded by roses and jasmines in full bloom. We were seduced by the freshness of the flowers; and engaged the rooms at once by the week. We did not consider that, there being no second story over...

Read More

Sunday Ads: Hotels of the 1890s and 1900s

Here are just a handful of advertisements of Indianapolis hotels from the 1890s and 1900s. By this time, there were more than 40 hotels in the city. By this time, the Enterprise Hotel, on Massachusetts Avenue, had ads oriented to boarders, and families. In the late 1800s, hotels were some of the earliest telephone customers. Ad years: 1891, 1892, 1899. The Pyle House, 1890 and 1894 The Brunswick Hotel, 1891. The reference to the soldiers’ monument would have been one of the first. The Capitol house, 1890. The fame of the Central Indiana natural gas boom was even used...

Read More

Sunday Ads: Hotels of the 1870s and 80s

Continuing in the vein from last week’s advertisements of the 1850s and 60s, here are some from Indianapolis hotels of the 1870s and 80s.   Circle Park Hotel appeared in Indianapolis in the 1880s. These ads convey the high quality service, and likely expensive rooms, provided by the hotel. The above ad is from 1880 and the top one from 1888. If the term has not changed in 130 years, “European Plan” indicates that meals were not included in the room price, though a dining room was within the hotel. Also using the prestige of the Circle was the...

Read More

Sunday Prayer: 3000 Pennsylvania Street

From the 3000 block of Pennsylvania Street, we have this former four-flat building that is hoping for a better future. Built in the 1900s or early 1910s, it was one among several flats and duplexes built around the intersection of 30th Street, Pennsylvania Street, and Talbott Ave. In 1914, the building contained the homes of Louis Smith, President of W.E. Stevenson & Co Real Estate, Charles Beckett, an actuary for the State Life Insurance Co., Harry Knox, a manager in the auto department of Lyons-Atlas Co., and Clemens Strauss, a lumberman. An interesting mix of middle-class men, and presumably...

Read More

Sunday Ads: Hotels and Boarding Houses of the 1850s and 60s

The 1855 Indiana State Gazetteer and Business Directory reported the following about the lodging in Indianapolis: Indianapolis is noted for its fine and well regulated hotels. Perhaps no other city in the West can boast of as good hotels–being almost all houses of the first class. Among the most prominent are the Bates House, on the north-west corner of Illinois and West Washington streets–a very beautiful building. Little’s Hotel, on the south-east corner of East Washington and New Jersey streets. This House has been in operation for twenty-eight years. Palmer House, on the south-east corner of Illinois and West...

Read More

Room with a View: Garfield Park Pagoda

The 1903 Pagoda (also known by many as the Pavilion) in Garfield Park is a historic outdoor room at the top of the park. Disappointingly, the observation deck is no longer open, but still the main floor has some great views of the oldest city park (yes, Military Park is older, but is a state-owned park). Looking south from the Pagoda, at the wooded parkland that has always comprised most of Garfield Park. The walk seems to lead to an idyllic destination somewhere in the forest. Looking north from the Pagoda, on a vibrantly blue stormy day earlier this...

Read More

Sunday Prayer: Woodruff Place West Drive

Today’s Sunday Prayer is this potentially marvelous home in Woodruff Place, which stood out to us when we were recently out perusing the neighborhood because of its largely still intact original windows, doors, siding and trim. There have been changes made over the years, like replacement siding on the lower story, but fortunately nothing to an irreversible degree. We hope that someone can find this home and lovingly restore it back to its original...

Read More

The Indianapolis-Yosemite Connection

What does our fair industrial city of Indianapolis, Indiana have in common with the majestic Sequoia trees towering in the Yosemite of California? Both places were homes to the “Father of the National Parks” and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir. John Muir was born in Scotland in 1838, the third of eight children. He and his family emigrated to Wisconsin in 1849, starting a farm near Portage. His father was a strict and deeply religious man, and the Muir children memorized the Bible early in their lives. While loosening the strict Christian beliefs as he matured, John...

Read More

Sunday Ad: Father’s Day in the 30s and 40s

Happy Father’s Day! Today, we have a few advertisements celebrating dads. First is a Father’s Day 1945 advertisement for the Meridian Furniture Company. As the ad says, “Furniture makes a GREAT GIFT…one he can enjoy every day in his leisure hours at home.” Despite the world war still going on, they had great deals on All-Metal Lamps, Dandy Desks, and “Genuine Early American Style” (images of a smarmy salesman saying that come to mind) Secretaries. 1712 N. Meridian Street is now the location of a modern office building and a PNC bank. In 1940, Harry Levinson was advertising soft...

Read More

History of Military Park

Our monthly theme for June is the “Great Outdoors”, and it seems that we’ve been more enjoying the great outdoors than writing about it. So, to help rectify the dearth of in-depth coverage, today we’ll take a look at Indianapolis’ oldest park, Military Park. 1910s photos of the shelterhouse, gardens, and park walks (Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society) Military Park is located south of New York Street, west of West Street. In use since the time of the first settlers, the park was sited just outside the original Mile Square owing to its origin as the city...

Read More

Sunday Prayer: Bush Stadium/Victory Field

While the most recent plans for the former Victory Field, also known as Bush Stadium, are apparently progressing forward, its current condition and the potential for the plans to fall through still makes it today’s Sunday Prayer. Detail views of the Art Deco facade. Check out this Indianapolis Star article for details on the current plans to conver the stadium to apartments. We hope that the stadium can retain its historic architectural integrity in whatever scheme that finally takes place....

Read More

Sunday Advertisement: Hobbs & Dunn–Landscape Architects

From the 1913 Blue Book comes this ad for Hobbs & Dunn: “Landscape Architects and Engineers”. And they also advertised in the 1913 City Directory… Not too many landscape architects were around the city in the early 1900s, so Oliver Hobbs was one of the first. Mr. Hobbs lived at 1426 N. New Jersey, despite the family nursery being in Bridgeport, meaning that he was apparently earning a fair income in the landscape design business. Cooper Dunn may have been the engineer of “landscape architects and engineers”. He lived at 320 E. Walnut Street at the time. The rest of the Hobbs family seem to be more on the nursery and plant growing, based on their occupations listed in the directory. Surprisingly, I cannot find much about Hobbs & Dunn or the projects they would have completed. Any one know more?...

Read More

The Ginkgo behind Apparatus at 14th and Meridian

Since June’s monthly theme is about the great outdoors, we’ve been looking around at trees a lot: in parks, along streets, in plazas, in yards. The topic of this article is an historic vestige of the Meridian Street mansions. The tree is a Ginkgo tree located behind the former WFYI building at 14th and Meridian, now home to Apparatus. It is approximately 50″ in diameter and likely 100-125 years old. The tree is surrounded by parking lot, and is unfortunately overshadowed by power lines and a transmission tower. However, somehow it has survived–thrived even–in the face of adverse conditions....

Read More

Preservation Affirmed: Stout Field Terminal

Stout Field, located on south Holt Road between Minnesota and Raymond Streets, was Indianapolis’ first municipal airport. Originally known as Mars Hill Airport, for the suburb it is located in, and also simply known as Indianapolis Municipal Airport, the airfield was opened in the 1926, with the terminal and hangars built around 1927. During its time as the city airport, the runways were apparently not paved. The airport’s name came from WWI veteran Lt. Richard Stout, who had died in a plane crash at Fort Benjamin Harrison. The terminal building, April 2010 It was soon realized that a bigger...

Read More

Sunday Prayer: Alfred Glossbrenner Mansion

Alfred Glossbrenner, prominent early 1900s Indianapolis citizen and president of Levey Printing, built this grand mansion at 3202 (or 3210) North Meridian Street in 1910. Like other mansions on North Meridian, Glossbrenner’s home was ornately detailed inside and out. The mansion as seen from Meridian Street. In 1949, Joseph Walther bought the mansion and used it for his medical practice. In 1966, he founded Winona Memorial Hospital, the vacant shell of which now surrounds the mansion. After selling the hospital in 1985, Walther started the Walther Cancer Foundation, and they owned the mansion until Walther’s death in 2005. With...

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