Author: Ryan Hamlett

New Life at Central State Part III: The 1899 Building

The 1899 Building, formerly the Men’s Dining Hall for Central State Hospital. (Photo: 1899indy.com) When last RWAV headed west, we visited Central State Hospital’s Administration Building in the middle of its restoration and transformation into “Central State Mansion” by Reverie Estates. In the short time that has past, the Mansion is now a vibrant collection of artist studios, co-living spaces, and micro-offices catering to Indianapolis’ student and young creative professionals. As Reverie was completing the rehabilitation process for the “Admin” Building, it also had its sights on the near-by “1899 Building” and the potential it held. What is now known...

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The Arlington Theater

In between the days of the grand vaudevillian movie houses like the Circle and Indiana Theaters (now Hilbert Circle and Indiana Repertory) and the 23 screen multiplexs of today, small, independently owned theaters sprang up around Indianapolis. One such theater, the Arlington, opened in 1949 at the corner of East 10th Street and Arlington Ave, constructed at a cost of $250,000 ($2.4 million today) and sat 1100 theatergoers. Its first feature, You’re My Everything starring Dan Dailey and Ann Baxter follows two newly-weded actors on their journey from stage to silent films through advent of talking pictures. As television continued to...

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The Scot Butler House and the Office in the Round

The former Board of Church Extension Building or “office in the round” at 110 South Downey Avenue. Photo: courtesy  Irvington Historical Society This edition of A Room with a View is going to be a little bit of a departure from the norm. As I am about to take a little time off from HI to begin a long imagined, finally realized journey– pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation at Ball State, I’d like to take you to one of the first buildings that meant something to me growing up in Indianapolis. My sister and I are first generation...

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New Life at Central State Part Two: Restoring and Repurposing

Window restoration is always a key element to preserving old buildings. This view peers north from the top floor of the Administration Building at the Central State Hospital site, photo taken earlier this year.  This is the second piece of a three part series covering the revitalization of Central State Hospital, the former insane asylum that closed its doors in 1994. The first piece touched upon some of the history of the 160 acre mental health complex on Indy’s near westside. This week, we cover some of the new developments at Central State, focusing on the restoration of a...

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B. F. Keith’s Grand Opera House

A closed Keith’s Theater advertises “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” at the nearby Indiana Theater  Today, scaffolding surrounds the Consolidated Building at 115 North Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis as TWG Development, LLC restores the 1910 high-rise into apartments and retail space. But did you know that long before the last tenants, Downtown Comics, moved out of the R. P. Daggett & Co. designed building in 2000, its front doors once led the way to a theater that featured Indy’s first peek at a moving picture? On September 13th, 1875, on ground that once was the location...

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New Life at Central State Asylum

Editor’s Note: These sprawling grounds on Indianapolis’ near west side will be the subject of a three-part series focusing on Reverie Estates‘ restoration of the surviving Administration and Recreation buildings. First, we will focus on the background history of Central State Hospital. Not long after Indiana moved its capital from Corydon to Indianapolis in 1825, the fledgling city found it needed a place to house and care for its citizens deemed unfit for the general population. A few log cabins in an area of town identified as “section 22” (bordered by Alabama, New Jersey, New York and Vermont Streets)...

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Karl Bitter, Elmer Taflinger, and the Holliday Park Ruins

Last episode, we learned of the short but prolific life of Austrian born, Indianapolis transplant Rudolph Schwarz, sculptor of the Soilders’ and Sailors’ Monument. After his untimely death, his art school friend and fellow Austrian ex-pat, Karl Bitter, came to Indianapolis for his friend’s funeral and to make sure Schwarz’s family was provided for. It was to be the last visit Indianapolis by Bitter, before he too met a sudden death. But some four decades later, some of Bitter’s finest works would echo his journey from New York to Indianapolis to face an uncertain fate of their own. Karl...

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Indiana’s S & S War Memorial Sculptor

A close up view of “The Dying Solider” on the east side of the Solider’s and Sailor’s Monument. Every day, thousands of people pass the Soliders’ and Sailors’ Monument at the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It stands in remembrance and honor of the scores of Hoosiers who fought in the war between North and South. Did you know, however, that the man responsible for the grand scenes depicted in Indiana Limestone was a fresh art school grad from Vienna, Austria who was born a year after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox? Rudolph Schwarz was born in Vienna,...

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Metropolitan Hall: Indianapolis’ First Theatre

While the Hilbert Circle Theatre and the Indiana Repertory Theatre are the last remaining structures of what was once a vast network of downtown theaters, neither can boast as having been the city’s first. That distinction goes to Metropolitan Hall, which once stood on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Tennessee Street (now Capitol Avenue). For the first few decades of Indianapolis’ existence, regular theatrical entertainment wasn’t on the top of most Hoosiers’ priority lists. When the occasional traveling production would make its way through town, it set up in a tavern, private home, or — after 1850 — the city’s first Masonic...

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Riverside Pumping Station

Citizen’s Water Co. Riverside Pumping House at 1201 Waterway Boulevard – Photo by Ryan Hamlett Looking north from West 10th Street by the IUPUI/Eskenazi Health campus, a lonesome, grand municipal building peers back from the other side of Fall Creek. What was once the crown jewel of the Indianapolis Water Company is now as forgotten as the dynamic man behind its construction. The construction of the Riverside Pumping Station (completed in 1900) was overseen by then Indianapolis Water Co. president Thomas Armstrong Morris. Thomas, one of three boys of Indianapolis pioneers Rachel and former Indiana State Auditor Morris Morris...

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Indiana City Brewery (Home Brewing Company Bottling Building)

In case you missed it the first time we published it… Early last year, our own Joan Hostetler featured the Home Brewing Company for a February 2013  “Indianapolis: Then and Now” feature. Today in A Room with a View, we revisit the remaining Bottling and Distribution building which is once again responsible for creating delicious libations for circle citizens. The men behind one of Indianapolis’ first major breweries spread far and wide throughout the history of the city. Organized in 1891, Home Brewing Company’s first brewmaster and principal organizers was a German immigrant named August Hook, father of the John Hook who...

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The Indianapolis Chain and Stamping Co.

Photo courtesy of Diamond Chain Co. There is a building on Indianapolis’ near southwest side that is easily forgettable as one drives into downtown on Kentucky Ave. Yet, the story behind this century old factory has roots in America’s bicycle, motorsports and aeronautical industries, plus, another relocated cemetery to boot. Though the “high-wheeled” or “penny-farthing” bicycle had been all the rage since its 1869 premier, it was a dangerous and unwieldy contraption. By the 1880s, the more rider friendly “safety-bicycle”  with a rear wheel that was similarly sized as the front and chain driven by a crank replaced the...

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The Devil in the Old Northside

The first official home of the People’s Temple led by the notorious Reverend Jim Jones – Photo: Ryan Hamlett As time passes, any city of size will accumulate ghosts of those who have passed through it, and Indianapolis is no different. Whether it be Teddy Roosevelt speaking from the Circle in 1902, the Beatles performing at the State Fairgrounds in 1964 or Elvis’ final performance at Market Square Arena in 1977, Indy has its share of sites where the famous, or in this case, infamous, have tread. Scattered about the Circle City are a handful locations touched by an...

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Indianapolis Fire Station Two

Ever suddenly “discover” an interesting detail or other gem–even though you’ve passed it countless times? Station Number Two Fire Museum, situated between Mass. Ave. and St. Clair Street is indeed a gem worth discovering. It is worth making a visit to the museum when it reopens in the spring. Until then, here’s a glimpse into Indianapolis’ firefighting past. By 1872, Indianapolis had grown too large to be adequately protected by its network of volunteer fire brigades. To better protect a city still consisting of predominantly wood buildings, four fire stations were built within the mile square of downtown Indy. Wedged...

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Indy Indie Artist Colony, the Former St. Regis

The Indy Indie Artist Colony and former St. Regis Apartment building at the Corner of Pennsylvania and 14th Streets – Photo: Ryan Hamlett It seems that everywhere you look, there are new, high-end condos and apartments springing up in and around downtown Indianapolis. As transportation costs rise, the time for a resurgence in downtown living has come. However, for those in the market for something a bit more modest with more character than crisp sheetrock and granite countertops have to offer, the search is a bit more challenging. One such option is a building that has seen its own...

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History of the St. Vincent Hospital Fall Creek Building

There were an improbable number of mustard bottles littering the kitchen table as we poked our heads through the doorway. In some ways, this apartment was just like every other in the crumbling edifice most recently known as Weyerbacher Terrace. Every kitchen featured an upturned refrigerator, unceremoniously stripped of its compressor. Every interior wall sported massive holes punched into the sheetrock where the pipes were removed prior to their trip to one of the city’s less reputable scrapyards. Still, regardless of its impressive assortment of condiments, this particular apartment stood out from the others. Giant stacks of newspapers, magazines,...

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Return to the Mysterious Tombstones at Kessler and Keystone

This past August, we ran a feature on the tiny cemetery at the southeast corner of Kessler Boulevard and Keystone Avenue. Its purpose and origins had been something that had intrigued me for ages, though I never acted upon the impulse to pop out of the car and take a peek until this year. Judging by the response, I wasn’t the only one curious about how such a tiny but well groomed grave ended up next to such a highly trafficked intersection. However, as is sometimes the case when one goes trudging through the history of other peoples families, there...

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The Thomas Askren House

I have to admit, I am guilty of being too downtown-centric when it comes to thinking about Indianapolis’ historic buildings. Simply because there is a higher concentration of old buildings doesn’t make the rest of the county any less worthy of recognition, it simply requires a bit more effort to scope out the hidden gems that rest far from Monument Circle. On Indy’s eastside, where Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive ends at East 16th Street, one such hidden gem sits at the end of a long, tree lined drive. While Indy’s oldest surviving house (the James Ray-Buscher House) sits,...

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Christian Theological Seminary

Christian Theological Seminary at 42nd and Michigan Road With a not-so-subtle tie-in to this week’s What’s in a Name, we travel up Michigan Road, across the street from the north gates of the Indianapolis Museum of Art for a quick stop at the Christian Theological Seminary. As the nation grew with westward expansion in the 1800s, colleges and universities popped up nearly as frequently as new towns and cities. Often, these fledgling institutions of higher learning had religious affiliations, created both to serve a public good but also to create new leaders within the communities. Catholics had a foothold...

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Frances Farmer Will Find Her Peace in Fishers

A newly discovered Frances Farmer in 1935 The internet. In 1994, almost none of us had heard of it, even fewer of us had reason to use it. Twenty years later, it’s how we communicate, shop, and learn. For many of us, the internet’s greatest potential is an insanely grand tool for procrastination. Whether it be keeping up to date on celebrity gossip, scrutinizing fantasy football stats or seeking out one piece of information that links to another and another and another until you’ve realized that you’ve intended to look up a pumpkin pie recipe for a family get...

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