Author: Rudy Schouten

Sears, Roebuck and Co., 333 N. Alabama Street, Part I

Sears, Roebuck and Company, 333 North Alabama Street, in 1929. Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society   Sears, Roebuck and Co. opened its first location in Indianapolis on July 25, 1929, just three months ahead of the stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression.  The timing was not ideal, but store manager M.C. Penticoff was confident his new store would do well. “Indianapolis has the potential to take its place among the commercial centers in the Midwest.”  The exact place, as far as Penticoff was concerned, would be the southeast corner of Vermont and...

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Then & Now: Shellhouse Building, 2455 N. Central

Post Card of the newly constructed Frank Shellhouse Fireproof Storage Building at 2455 N. Central. Image:   Frank Shellhouse was born in New Palestine, Indiana in 1863. As a young man, he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, where his hard work in the business of transporting people and their possessions led him to start his own business—the business of storing people’s possessions, including the ones they left behind in their travels. In 1901, he opened a storage facility at Market and Alabama Streets, at 105 N. Alabama Street, specializing in household goods and unclaimed freight. It was a simple...

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Climax Coffee and Baking Powder Company, 31-37 S. Davidson Street

The Climax Coffee and Baking Powder Building at 31-37 South Davidson Street, as it appeared in 1924.   Industrialists settling Indianapolis in the early twentieth century built their factories as closely as possible to the new railroads coursing the city. Most of those buildings, of course, are long gone, and in some cases, even the ground on which they stood seems to have disappeared; progress had a way of brushing it off the beaten path. One example of such a piece of property was the Climax Coffee and Baking Powder Company. In 1901, H.B. Gates gathered his new stockholders...

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Cole Motor Car Company, 730 E. Washington Street

The Cole Motor Car Company property as it appeared in 1920. This view, the corner of Washington and Davidson Streets, is from the southeast, as you would see it today traveling north on I65. Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society.    Joseph J. Cole and his son took their first shot at building a car in 1903. They called it the Rockford, the name of the Illinois town in which they developed their four-cylinder touring car.  But the Rockford failed to gain much traction, so they opened a Rambler dealership instead.  A year later, Cole bought into...

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Guaranty Building, 20 N. Meridian Street

Guaranty Building, 20 N. Meridian Street (southwest quadrant of Monument Circle), under construction in 1922. Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society   “The great fire of Chicago—the earthquake of San Francisco—gave both of these cities the opportunity needed for long deferred development and growth. Indianapolis does not wait for fires, earthquakes or calamities.  Every new development in recent years has been built upon the man-made ruins of something not as good.”  Those are the spirited, if not subjective, first words of an Indianapolis News tribute to the “Builders of Greater Indianapolis” in 1922. The editorial urged readers to...

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L.S. Stockman Drug Store, 501 N. Illinois Street

The L.S. Stockman Drug Store on the northeast corner of Michigan and Illinois Streets as it appeared in 1908. Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society   People who live or work downtown are accustomed to buying their aspirin from one of those big box pharmacy chain stores. The kind with another big box competitor across the street. The L. S. Stockman Drug Store proves half of that hasn’t always been true. Louis Soyez Stockman moved from Lawrenceburg, Indiana to Indianapolis in 1883 in search of a brighter future in the big city. His entrepreneurial journey began by clerking for...

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Then & Now: Knickerbacker Hall, 1545 Central Avenue

Knickerbacker Hall (misspelled) from a post card mailed in 1910 If you have ever driven south of 16th Street on Central Avenue, you may have noticed a big church on the southeast corner. What you may not have noticed is the more recent recessed addition and long lawn south of the historic church. If your family tree stretches back 100+ years, one of your ancestors may have been educated in the building that used to stand there. It was September 1891 when the four-story “Saint Mary’s Hall” opened in what is now Old Northside. Built for $20,000 on the...

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Ambassador Apartments, 39 E. 9th Street

Ambassador Apartments, July 2017 (Image: Tammy C. Millott) Despite efforts to the contrary, the Ambassador is standing after 93 years and firmly set on its original foundation. Sixteen years ago, planners, architects, preservationists, neighbors and members of the St. Joseph Historic Neighborhood Association debated proposals to raze or move the Ambassador Apartments at 9th and Pennsylvania Streets. The building stood in the way of plans for a 267,000-square-foot addition to the Marion County Public Library. Not everyone was satisfied with the decision, but on July 19, 2001, library officials voted to modify blueprints for the $100 million expansion: The...

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Then & Now: Canterbury Apartments

The Canterbury Apartments, 1603 Central Avenue, as they appeared in 1919. Looking at northeast corner of 16th and Central. (Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society.) In 1914, the vicinity of Sixteenth Street and Central Avenue was dominated by boarding houses and low-rise apartment buildings. The house that stood on the northeast corner belonged to J. Guy Haugh, an executive in the men’s clothing industry in Indianapolis. Four years later, Haugh traded his house for a new complex of buildings on the same lot: the Canterbury Apartments. The Canterbury held its ground for eight decades, a lifespan that began...

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Then & Now: Schrader Building, 101 S. Pennsylvania Street

C.A. Schrader Building, 101-105 South Pennsylvania Street, home of C.A. Schrader Wholesale Grocer from 1901 to 1953.  (Image: Bass Photo Collection, Indiana Historical Society) The American Civil War had yet to begin when C. F. Schrader opened a grocery store at Virginia Avenue and McCarty Street. His four sons, Edward, Charles, Christian A., and Henry, helped in their father’s shop every day after school. This is how one local multigenerational family business was born. Edward and Charles spent their careers in their father’s store. Henry and Christian A. Schrader ventured into another aspect of the grocery business. In 1883, they...

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