Author: Nathan Bilger

Preservation Denied: City Police Headquarters/City Court

Besides the Marion County Courthouse that we discussed earlier this month, another casuality of the construction of the City-County Building was the smaller, but still architecturally interesting, Indianapolis Police Headquarters (aka City Courts or City Building). Circa 1901 photo from the Journal Handbook of Indianapolis Built in 1897 on the site of the previous police headquarters, the building was located at 35 South Alabama Street, at the southeast corner of Alabama and Pearl, conveniently across the street from the Marion County Jail. The facade was of Indiana limestone, and “City Court” was enscribed just below the cornice. The city...

Read More

History of Indianapolis Union Station, Part 1

May is National Preservation Month and May 7th is National Train Day. So in honor of both of those, over the next couple weeks we will take a look at the history of one of the biggest Indianapolis preservation wins, Indianapolis Union Station. This first part relates the history of Indianapolis Union Depot, the predecessor to the still standing Union Station. The Indianapolis Union Station is a symbol of progressiveness, despite being built by conservative railroads in a moderate Midwestern city. As the first-ever union station in the world, IUS has the longest history of any, and, unlike many...

Read More

Preservation Denied: Bates Building

We’ve featured the Bates Building before, so it probably looks familiar to regular readers. The building at 30-40 North Pennsylvania Street was a haughty example of Victorian architecture when built in 1875, with mansard roof, dormers, flagpoles, and ornate trim everywhere. The long-time home of the When Clothing company and the Indiana Business College (later University), the building was sold and remodeled in the 1940s. It lost much of its Victorian style at that time and subsequently became known as the Ober Building. It was demolished in 1995 for a parking garage. The Bates Block/Ober Building in 1970 and...

Read More

Preservation Denied: the Roosevelt Building

The terra cotta-clad 12-story tall Roosevelt Building at 9 North Illinois Street was constructed in 1922, completed January 1, 1923, and had a major remodeling in 1949. It was designed by the Vonnegut, Bohn & Mueller firm for the Libby Realty Company as speculative office space. The site had previously been the site of the six-story United Building, itself constructed sometime after 1898. Libby Realty had leased the property from Millard Realty, which had leased the property from Edward Claypool (who was presumably related to the Claypool Hotel, which was located across Illinois Street) in 1907 for a term...

Read More

Preservation Denied: Marion County Courthouse

The 1876 Marion County Courthouse, designed by Irishman Isaac Hodgson, is probably one of the biggest losses, literally– and in terms of architectural and historical significance, of Indianapolis Preservation Denied. The building stood for 85 years, but in 1962, the needs of more space and modern coveniences were fulfilled by a new, modern, million square foot office tower known as the City-County Building. Photo from the IHPC files showing the old courthouse under demolition–destroyed in 1963. Where this ornate Victorian jewel once stood is now a concrete and grass plaza....

Read More

Sunday Prayer: Richland Ave house

This home on the 200 block of Richland Avenue is one of the few completely boarded up and vacant houses in the neighborhood, and, unlike many of its neighbors, it also retains many of its architectural detail features. Given the difference in scale and detailing, one wonders if this home predates the neighbors by years. With some TLC, hard work, and capital, the place could be the crown jewel of the neighborhood....

Read More

Sunday Ads: Model Maker, Model Maker, M

From the 1871 directory of Indianapolis comes this advertisement for H.P. Hood, Model Maker. The “maker of patterns of all kinds, & small machinery, etc.” was located at St. Clair and Canal, which was a mixture of industries and dwellings at the time. Anyone know what building is shown...

Read More

WTH Weds: the Importance of Windows

Today’s What the H*ll highlights why historic windows are an important piece of a structure, and why they are on Indiana Landmarks’ Endangered List. I think the photos speak for themselves. The building is located in Herron-Morton Place… P.S. It also is an illustration of why a front door is important to both the house itself and presenting a friendly neighborhood streetscape. You really have to look to find the entrance in these photos....

Read More

Sunday Ad: Easter Shoes, 1904

This advertisement comes from the Indianapolis Recorder, the week before Easter 1904. Even then, the holiday was enough justification for stores to have big sales. George J. Marott was one of the biggest names in Indianapolis at the turn of the century. While the shoe business was how he got his start, he later formed the Marott department store on Massachusetts Avenue in 1906, he was the primary stockholder of the Kokomo, Marion & Western Traction Company, among other business dealings. He was also the Marott who built the Marott Hotel on North Meridian in 1926. Also from the...

Read More

Architectural guide to the Indiana Landmarks Center

Just in time for those of you going to the Indiana Landmarks Center open house (11am-2pm) today, here is a spotting guide to many of the building’s architectural features. Click on the image to see the full size image. Here are downloadable pdf’s as well: Small version (~400kb pdf) Big, printable version (~6mb pdf) We will add these to a forthcoming downloads section in the near future....

Read More

Sunday Prayers: 16th and New Jersey

Today’s hope for the future is this little store located on the southeast corner of 16th and New Jersey. Based on the Sanborn fire insurance rate maps, this shop was built sometime between 1898 and 1915 as an addition to an existing home. The 1915 map labels the addition as an “office”; however, only the northern part of the current L-shaped building was there. By the 1950, the house was gone, the building had become a “store”, and the lot looked much like it does today. Take a look at the foundations. The northern half of the L-shaped building...

Read More

Butler in the Old Northside, Part 2

Following up on some feedback from yesterday’s article, here is some more on the former Northwest Christian College (later Butler University) site at 13th and College. Above, a newspaper article from 1910 describing the demolition of the former main college building. It also gives some history of the university. Being historic in itself, it offers a unique perspective on the university and preservation in 1910. And here are static maps and aerial images of the university grounds, which stretched from at least 13th to 14th and College to Bellfontaine. 1898, after conversion to the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum. Even by...

Read More

Indianapolis Earthquakes

[The earthquake news from Japan is still developing. Find out the latest here.] As most of you know, likely firsthand, earthquakes in Indianapolis and Indiana are not unusual although they are infrequent. The strongest quakes to have hit what would become the Hoosier state occurred in December and January 1811/12. These four quakes were among the strongest earthquakes ever to have hit the US, measuring around 7.1-8.0. As the stories go, the Mississippi River ran backwards for days and changed location, church bells rang in Boston, and squirrels dropped their nuts. The strongest earthquake to strike Indianapolis since becoming...

Read More

Sunday Ads: Reserve Loan Life Insurance

From the 1923 Polk directory, an ad for the Reserve Loan Life Insurance Company, located at 429 North Pennsylvania Street. The building seen was the Knights and Ladies of Honor fraternal lodge at 429 N Penn. The Knights and Ladies of Honor was a splinter group from the Knights of Honor and had formed in 1877 as a reaction to the KoH no longer having a women’s auxiliary. The KLoH was one of the first fraternal organizations to allow women to join at an equal level to men, with the same benefits and rights. They allowed any white person...

Read More

Reminiscences of Amos Hanway

The original Mile Square plat, overlaid with the extents of population in 1823, 1835, and 1850. [The following are from the March 1906 issue of The Indiana Magazine of History.] REMINISCENCES OF AMOS HANWAY. From paper read before the Indiana Centennial Association, July 4, 1900. I came to Indianapolis with my father’s family on the 21st of June, 1821, being then a boy in my fifth year. The family had lived in Vincennes several years before that time. Our voyage here was in an Olean Point flatboat. We went down the Wabash to the mouth of White River and...

Read More

Indianapolis Brewing Company

Image from Hyman’s Handbook of Indianapolis. It should be noted that this image does not appear to match any of the Indianapolis Brewing Company’s breweries in operation in 1896, as they were in mostly residential areas and comprised of much smaller buildings. March 1 is the semi-official Beer Day holiday of Iceland, marking the end of their Prohibition in 1989. It is just one of several official and unofficial beer holidays around the world and a good excuse to discuss Indianapolis’s rich brewing past. We will try to highlight a piece of the history on each of the upcoming...

Read More

The Post Office: 1893

With the news of the West Indianapolis Post Office closing yesterday (see the IndyStar article), here is a look at the Indianapolis Post Office of 1893. The post office was located on the southeast corner of Market and Pennsylvania Streets (Market would be to the left, Penn to the right). A simple neoclassical delight, it was likely already feeling small in 1893. By 1898, the adjacent two store buildings to the south had been converted to postal use and connected to this building by a passageway. Also in 1898, a 30’x30′ bicycle garage was located to the east, probably...

Read More

Knight & Jillson: A House of Pipe

Knight & Jillson Company was a manufacturer and wholesaler of pipes of all kinds. The gas boom of central Indiana made the pipe business very lucrative; at its peak, the company’s revenue totaled nearly $1,500,000. Their office and main plant was located at 121-127 S Pennsylvania St., at the southeast corner of the intersection with Chesapeake St. According to the 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance Rate map, the back 3-story part was used for pipe-fitting and storage. This building was not yet finished on the map, so it was likely built in 1899 or 1900. They also had operations in...

Read More

Pounds and Pets

Today is National Spay Day. We bet you did not know that before now. In recognition of this, we take a quick look at the history of Indianapolis dog pounds, and then some happier vintage views of pets from around Indiana. Indianapolis Dog Pound Like many cities during the City Beautiful movement, Indianapolis created a city dog pound to help control the population of stray animals that were viewed as disease carrying nuisances. The turn-of-the-last-century Indianapolis dog pound was located on the southern edge of Greenlawn Cemetery, adjacent to the River Ave. bridge (now demolished–one bridge pier base can...

Read More

Presidents in Indianapolis

Today is “Presidents Day,” so we look at the US presidents who have paid visits to our city. Since Indianapolis was the railroad crossroads of America, presidents who visited the western parts of the country by rail often went through the city, so we got more than a fair share of presidents through here. Here are just some highlights of presidential visits to Indianapolis… William Henry Harrison. Certainly never visited the city during his presidency, though he probably visited the area of Marion County while governor of the territory or during the Indian campaigns. Martin Van Buren visited Indianapolis...

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