Author: Sharon Butsch Freeland

HI Mailbag: 1701 Gent Avenue

Reader’s Question: Can you provide the history of who owned the property at 1701 Gent Avenue and the businesses that occupied it over the years?  ~ Jeff C. HI’s Answer:  For readers who may not be familiar with its location, Gent Avenue is a relatively short street on the near northwest side, extending from Indiana Avenue at its south end to West 22nd Street at its north end, between Fall Creek on the east and White River on the west. Prior to the establishment of building lots in the area, which was late in the nineteenth century, the land was for many years farmed by...

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HI Mailbag: St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild

Reader’s Question: My daughter-in-law recently became a member of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild. Could you provide some history of the organization and its activities? ~ Carol C., Carmel     HI’s Answer: St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild is an Indianapolis area volunteer organization that is now into its second century of supporting the city’s oldest hospital. The guild was founded in 1907 by a handful of young women who were members of  St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. At that time, St. Paul’s was located downtown on the southeast corner of West New York Street and North Illinois Street. Today, St. Paul’s is located just north of Kessler Boulevard, at 6050...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis Public Library

Reader’s Question: I heard that the CEO of the Indianapolis Public Library was conducting tours of IPL facilities all around the city. I’m curious to know when Indianapolis first opened a public library and where the early library branches were located. ~  David B., Indianapolis      HI’s Answer:  Within a few years after Indianapolis was founded, libraries began to be established in various locations around town. However, their collections were limited in subject matter and availability.  The Indiana Law Library and the Indianapolis Bar Association Library contained legal volumes.  The Indiana Medical Society’s books pertained to medicine.  Many churches had libraries,...

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HI Mailbag: Trinity Episcopal Church

Reader’s Question: I live in the neighborhood of Trinity Episcopal Church. I understand that it was not originally called Trinity. Can you provide its previous name, as well as a little of the church’s history?  ~ Jay van S., Historic Meridian Park   HI’s Answer:   The congregation that has been called Trinity Episcopal Church for the last 65 years was actually established nearly a century ago. However, it was not given its current name until April of 1951, and the present building was not completed until December of 1952. From 1919 until 1951, the church on the southeast corner of 33rd and Meridian Streets...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis Victim on the USS Maine

Reader’s Question: Last week, I tweeted some photos that I took at Crown Hill Cemetery of the grave of Harry Keys, an Indianapolis resident who was on the ill-fated USS Maine. My tweets got the attention of a high school history teacher who had done research on the mass burial of the casualties.  She had discovered that there was only one person on board from Indiana, and that he is not buried at Arlington National Cemetery with the other sailors. I wondered if this might be something you’d want to investigate further.  ~ Tom D., Indianapolis    HI’s Answer:  The USS Maine...

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HI Mailbag: Warfleigh

Reader’s Question:  I have lived on the south side of Indianapolis my entire life, so I am not very well-acquainted with other parts of the city.  Recently, I had an appointment on the north side and was driving through an area just off North Meridian Street.  I noticed that a number of the homes had signs in their front yards that said, “SAVE WARFLEIGH.”  Who or what is Warfleigh?  ~ Beverly W., Greenwood   HI’s Answer: Warfleigh is the legal description of the lots in a popular neighborhood in the center of Washington Township. The area has a long and interesting history, going back to the...

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HI Mailbag: Stone Bridge Over Pleasant Run

Reader’s Question:  There is a beautiful stone bridge over Pleasant Run Parkway near Colorado Avenue.  Would you have any idea when it was built?  Local historians have researched to no avail, but they believe it was early to mid-1800’s. Would appreciate any information you might have. ~ Lisa L., Indianapolis   HI’s Answer:  The stone structure that arches over Pleasant Run Parkway, Pleasant Run Creek, and Pleasant Run Trail did not always appear as it appears today.  Originally, there was a bridge that simply supported the train tracks as they crossed over the creek in its rural setting.  The farmland...

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HI Mailbag: 1215 Kessler Boulevard East Drive

Reader’s question: There is a large white frame house on Kessler Boulevard, a couple of blocks east of the Monon Trail, that I have admired for years.  It appears to be much older than the homes around it, as well as on a bigger lot.  Would you have any information on its history? ~ Lois H., Indianapolis      HI’s Answer:  The address of the house to which you refer is 1215 Kessler Boulevard East Drive. At approximately 130 years of age and with more than 4,100 square feet on nearly two acres of land, it is definitely older and larger than most of...

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HI Mailbag: Christmas, A Century Ago

Reader’s Question: Could you provide some details about the ways in which Christmas was celebrated in Indianapolis, a century ago? ~ Mary A., Indianapolis  HI’s Answer: Many of the facets of Christmas as it is celebrated today existed a century ago. Although the holiday customs observed in 1915 have gone through some changes, current-day practices can be recognized in their erstwhile forerunners. The greeting cards, decorations, carols, toys, games, food, advertising, entertainment, philanthropy, and church functions that are part of modern Christmas celebrations all had analogous precursors one-hundred years ago. The popular song, “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas,” wasn’t composed until a quarter of a century later, but...

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HI Mailbag: 1037-1039 East Tabor Street

Reader’s Question: My brother and I have purchased 1037-1039 East Tabor Street and are completely redoing it.  We would like to know when the structure was built, who built it, and any information you might have about people who lived in it over the years. ~ Louis M., Indianapolis   HI’s Answer: The property that your brother and you are renovating is located in a residential area known by the legal description of Metzger’s Garfield Park Addition.  The building sites were laid out in 1905 by Albert E. Metzger (1865-1931).  At the time, Metzger was a relatively young businessman who sold real estate and insurance, made...

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HI Mailbag: The Meadows

Reader’s Question: I grew up in Ft. Wayne in the 1950s and 1960s, but I often spent weekends and holidays in Indianapolis with my grandparents.  I have fond memories of visiting their apartment in The Meadows, as well as walking to the nearby Meadows Shopping Center.  Can you tell me when the area was built?  ~ Cyndi T., Ft. Wayne, Indiana    HI’s Answer: The area on the northeast side that has generically been called “The Meadows” since the mid-1900s actually consisted of a number of different adjacent developments that were built over a period of more than 20 years. These separate projects included the...

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HI Mailbag: Martindale-Brightwood Families

Reader’s Question: I was wondering if you had any information on prominent families in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, from the late 1800s to the 1940s?  Can you provide any names and addresses?  ~ Jerome J. HI’s Answer:  The near northeastside neighborhood that is known today as Martindale-Brightwood was originally two separate entities. Each area can trace its beginnings to the 1870s, and each settlement can be attributed to its proximity to a railroad.  It wasn’t until the formation of the Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation in 1992 that the two neighborhoods were linked together. Brightwood, the further east of the two, was platted in 1872.  It was incorporated as...

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HI Mailbag: Tee Pee Restaurants

Reader’s Question: When I was in grade school, my older sisters always raved about the Tee Pee.  By the time I was a teenager, though, it was gone.  Can you give me a little history of the establishment?  ~ Donna K.     HI’s Answer: You didn’t indicate the time frame in which you grew up, or the part of town in which you lived, so I don’t know which Tee Pee your sisters might have frequented.  I will therefore provide a little information on all of the Tee Pee Restaurants.  There were three Tee Pee Restaurant locations over its years of operation, which spanned...

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HI Mailbag: Old Settlers Reunion

Reader’s Question:  I saw a post on a Facebook group’s page about an Old Settlers Reunion.  Would you have any information on that event?  ~ Catharine T. HI’s Answer:   The Old Settlers Reunion was an annual gathering celebrated by Marion County residents for more than eight decades.  It became a well-established feature of the community’s social life during the period of its existence. By the 1860s, State of Indiana was approaching its half-century mark, and the City of Indianapolis was only a handful of years behind the state in reaching that milestone.  Some of the earliest settlers had already passed away, and the ones who...

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HI Mailbag: 2147 North Talbott Street

Reader’s Question: I own several properties in the vicinity of 22nd and Talbott.  I am intrigued by a building at 2147 N. Talbott Street, which has the word “POWER” carved in a stone above its entrance.  Can you provide me with any information on the significance of this word or the history of the building?  ~ Jeff C., Indianapolis HI’s Answer:  The building at 2147 North Talbott Street was completed in 1929.  The one-story commercial structure was not the first improvement on that site.  There was previously a two-family dwelling on Lot 89 in Meridian Place.  The two-story frame property had the addresses...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis’ First Public Schools, Part Two

Reader’s Question:  In your recent article on schools, I did not see any information about the Calvin Fletcher School.  Wasn’t it one of IPS’s earliest grade schools?  ~ Peggy H., Indianapolis HI’s Answer: In the previous Mailbag column that discussed Indianapolis’ first public schools, only the seven primary schools that opened immediately upon the establishment of a school system were featured.  There were seven wards in the city at that time, and one school was located in each ward.  As it turns out, the school about which you have asked was the very next school to open after the first seven were in...

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HI Mailbag: Indianapolis’ First Public Schools

Reader’s Question: What were the first public schools in Indianapolis, and where were they located?  ~ Ann F., Indianapolis HI’s Answer:  From the time non-native settlers began to populate the area that in 1821 became the City of Indianapolis, people met in churches and homes to learn about subjects that were of interest to them. However, these study groups were private assemblies.  Various seminaries and institutes also operated in the early and mid-1800s, but they charged tuition, and none of them survived for any length of time. It wasn’t until 1847 that Indianapolis voters overwhelmingly supported a local referendum asking for free public schools,...

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HI Mailbag: Boulders Alongside Fall Creek

Reader’s Question: There once were two large boulders on the shore of Fall Creek, just west of College Avenue.  Bronze plaques were embedded in the boulders, commemorating two drowning victims.  Was there once a swimming beach at this location? ~ Jay H., Indianapolis   HI’s Answer: After checking old maps, early city directories, and historical newspaper archives, I could find no indication that a swimming beach ever existed on Fall Creek near College Avenue.  As that location is only a couple of miles from downtown, it was probably not far enough out in the country to have as much appeal as other more remote recreational...

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HI Mailbag: Union Park Place

Reader’s Question:  Since moving into my home two years ago, I have occasionally heard the neighborhood referred to as Union Park Place.  It was my understanding when I bought the property that it was in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood.  Can you provide any information about Union Park Place and its relationship to Mapleton-Fall Creek?    ~ Keith B., Indianapolis      HI’s Answer:     I am pleased to inform you that you live in both Mapleton-Fall Creek and Union Park Place!  Mapleton-Fall Creek is the name of the neighborhood association that was founded by local residents in the 1960s to address the challenges that arose after many...

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HI Mailbag: Wood Lawn and Fletcher Place

Reader’s Question:  I am interested in the history of Wood Lawn, Calvin Fletcher’s farm.  By all accounts, the Fletchers came to Indianapolis in the 1820s, and the land that had been their home was known as Fletcher Place as early as 1860.    ~ Glenn B., Indianapolis    HI’s Answer:  Calvin Fletcher Sr. was among the earliest settlers of Indianapolis.  Born into a Vermont farming family in 1798, he left home at the age of 19 to seek employment.  His travels took him first to Boston, Massachusetts, and then to Urbana, Ohio, where he studied law in the office of an established attorney.  Fletcher was...

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