Author: Steve Campbell

What’s in a Name – The Hannah-Oehler-Elder House

Hannah-Oehler-Elder House Location:  3801 South Madison Street Named for: Alexander Hannah, Roman Oehler & Romena Oehler Elder The house was built in 1858 by Alexander Hannah, a harness maker from Wayne County, who earned a small fortune in the California gold rush and used his earnings to purchase property south of Indianapolis. Throughout his life, Hannah served in the Indiana General Assembly, and as sheriff and postmaster. Hannah and his wife Elizabeth had no heirs when they died, so the home and its 21 acres were purchased in 1899 by Roman Oehler a German immigrant, Civil War veteran and successful...

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What’s in a Name? – Propylaeum

The Propylaeum Location:  Old Northside Greek for “entrance” or “gateway” Propylaea are any monumental gateways based on the original Propylaea that serve as the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. When used by the Indianapolis Propylaeum, it means “gateway to culture.”  The Indianapolis Propylaeum was founded by May Wright Sewall in 1888 as a social and cultural center for Indianapolis women. On January 21, 1891, 800 guests attended the opening and dedication of the Propylaeum on North Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets.   In 1924, The Propylaeum–the oldest private club owned and operated by and for women, purchased and moved...

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What’s in a Name? – Hinkle Fieldhouse

Hinkle Fieldhouse at sunset – photo by Ryan Hamlett Hinkle Fieldhouse Location:  Butler University Campus Named for: Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle, multi-sport coach and athletic director, Butler University The iconic Butler fieldhouse takes its name from Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle, whose shadow still looms large over the history of Butler University.  Born in 1899 in Logansport, he attended Calumet High School and graduated in 1916. He also attended the University of Chicago, where he was a three sport athlete, who graduated in 1920. In 1921, Hinkle began coaching baseball at Butler, and remained a coach there until 1970. He also coached basketball...

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What’s in a Name – Larue Carter Hospital

 Photo by Ryan Hamlett Larue Carter Hospital Location: 2601 Cold Spring Road Named For: Dr. Larue Carter, professor, Indiana University School of Medicine Dr. Larue Carter was born in Westfield, Indiana in 1880 and graduated from the Medical College of Indianapolis in 1904.  He interned at the Indianapolis City Hospital and the Philadelphia General Hospital and was a resident at Eastern Indiana Hospital for the Insane in Richmond, Indiana. In the late 1910s, he served in the Army Medical Corps, working on the Mexican border with General Joseph Pershing, and then as a surgeon and commanding officer in France.  After his...

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What’s in a Name? – Heslar Naval Armory

Photo: Ryan Hamlett Named For: Ola Fred Heslar, Chief of Naval Affairs for Indiana, U.S. Navy Reserves Ola Fred Heslar was born in Brazil, Indiana in 1891 and grew up in Brazil, Crawfordsville, and Indianapolis.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1907, serving in the Philippines and the Norfolk Navy Yard and continued a distinguished naval career through both World Wars.  After being promoting to officer rank, he worked for the commanders of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In 1922, he retired from active duty and joined the Naval Reserves, where he was Area Commander of Indiana and Chief of Naval...

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William H. Coleman Hospital

 William H. Coleman Hospital Photo: Ryan Hamlett Coleman Hospital Location: I.U.P.U.I Campus Named For: William Henry Coleman   In 1927, William H. Coleman endowed the hospital for women, in memory of his step-daughter who died from pregnancy complications. Coleman was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in New York.  He moved to Indianapolis in 1880, where he started a booming lumber business that grew to have additional operations in Terre Haute and Tennessee as well, even making barrels for the Standard Oil Company. Coleman married Sallie Downing Vajen, who had a daughter, Suemma, from her previous marriage to John Henry...

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What’s in a Name – H. Lauter Lofts

photo by Ryan Hamlett Location: West Washington and Harding Streets Named for Herman Lauter, Furniture manufactuer The former home of the H. Lauter Company is now condominiums on the city’s near westside. Herman Lauter was a successful furniture manufacturer who founded the Lauter and Frese Furniture Factory, which later became the H. Lauter Company, at the corner of Washington and Harding Streets.  It was the largest furniture company in the city at the time and made an extensive line of office desks, ladies’ desks, center and dressing tables, art dressers, chiffoniers, washstands and music stands. Lauter was born near Berlin,...

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What’s in a Name – The Kemper, Pierson-Griffiths, or Wedding Cake House

Kemper House or (Pierson-Griffiths House) Location:  St. Joseph Historic District, Delaware Street Right Reverend. Jackson Kemper, Indiana first Episcopal Bishop Charles Clark Pierson, the owner of a dental supply company originally built this house as a wedding gift for his wife, Mary Alice Scofield in 1873.  They lived in the home for about nine months before selling it.  Another owner who has lent his name to the house was John Griffiths, a noted orator who served in the Indiana House of Representatives and as a general consul in Liverpool and London. He owned the house from 1897 to 1914. After a...

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What’s in a Name: Lockefield Gardens

Lockefield Gardens Location:  Downtown Locke Street: Erie Locke, Indianapolis City Councilman Before becoming market rate apartments, Lockefield Gardens (designed by William Earl Russ) was one of the first public housing projects in the nation, with construction beginning in 1935. The project takes its name from “Locke Street” which was the western boundary of the site and named in honor of Erie Locke, a city councilman representing the area in the 1860s and 1870s.  “Field” was added to reflect the openness of the project’s site and give the project a bucolic image.     Major Erie Locke was born in 1822 in Cecil County, Maryland to Elam, who hailed from New...

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What’s in a Name: Murat Shrine Theater

Murat Shrine Location:  Downtown Bir Murat, an oasis in the Nubian desert;  Joachim Murat, general in Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. Murat, the name selected for the Shriner’s Temple at 502 N. New Jersey Street in Indianapolis, is of unusual interest.  Although the name “Murat” comes from “Bir Murat,” an oasis in the Nubian desert, it is one of only three in Shrinedom that are not of Arabic origin or connotation.     When Napoleon’s armies were in Egypt between 1798 and 1800, the general who led his forces was Marshal Murat, who later became King of Naples. General Murat invariably made provisions for his troops. One of the desert water...

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What’s in a Name: Barton Apartments

Barton Apartments Location:  Downtown Mayor John Barton, 43rd Mayor of Indianapolis Barton was born in 1906 and graduated from Cathedral High School.  He earned an engineering degree from Purdue University.  He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later joined the Indiana State Police.   He left the State Police and worked for a manufacturing company for several years until 1961, when new Gov. Matthew Welsh appointed him as Superintendent of the Indiana State Police. Two years later, he parlayed his high profile position and a stellar reputation into politics.  Although he was a novice candidate, he won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Indianapolis and...

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What’s in a Name: Benton House

Benton House Location:  312 S. Downey Ave., Irvington Allen Benton, president, Northwest Christian University (now Butler University) Benton House, an iconic landmark in the Irvington neighborhood built in 1873, is named for Allen Benton who was president of Northwest Christian University (now Butler University) when the university was in the eastside neighborhood. Born in in 1822 in Cuyahoga County, New York, Benton graduated from Bethany College in 1847.  He then moved to Rush County, Indiana the following year, where he started a classical school that he ran until 1854.  He left the school to study at the University of Rochester in New York before taking a job...

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What’s in a Name: Vajen Exchange Block

Vajen Exchange Block Location: Wholesale District, Meridian Street- relocated from Pennsylvania Street, between Wabash and Market Streets John H. Vajen, Indianapolis businessman & Indiana’s Quartermaster General John Henry Vajen was born in Hanover, Germany in 1828 to a university professor and his wife. His family came to America in 1836, settling in Baltimore and Cincinnati before moving to Jackson County, Indiana where he helped organize a large German Lutheran settlement. When John’s father died, he returned to Cincinnati to work as a clerk for a family friend and later earned interest in the company. In 1851, Vajen moved to...

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What’s in a Name: Aston Inn

Aston Inn Location: 6620 N. Michigan Rd. George W. Aston, proprietor, Aston Inn When Michigan Road was the main thoroughfare that connected Lake Michigan with the Ohio River, the Aston Inn, owned by George Aston, was an important location for travelers who sought lodging along the route. Aston was born February 6, 1811. He died October 25, 1886, and is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery. He built the Inn along the Michigan Road in 1852 as a stagecoach stop. It was also the last stop on the road for people riding cattle to the Indianapolis stockyards. In addition to...

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What’s in a Name: Flanner House

Flanner House Location: Near Northwestside, 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. St. Frank Flanner, Indianapolis mortician and civic leader Flanner was born in a Quaker village in Ohio in 1854 and moved to Indianapolis when he was a young child. He attended local Indianapolis schools. In 1881 he became an undertaker and built the state’s only crematory at the time. Several years later, he and a new partner Charles J. Buchanan founded the mortuary of Flanner & Buchanan. Aside from his business, his Quaker upbringing spurred him to be an active civic leader. He was involved wit the development...

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What’s in a Name: Spruance Basin

Admiral Spruance Basin Location: Downtown, north end of canal Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, U.S. Navy Raymond Ames Spruance was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 3, 1886, to Alexander and Annie Spruance, but grew up in Indianapolis. He graduated from Shortridge High School and went on to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1906. He advanced quickly through the ranks, becoming an admiral in 1944. During World War II, he was commander in the Pacific Theater. Right before the famous Battle of Midway, famed Admiral William Halsey was preparing to led he battle, but was hospitalized with psoriasis. Halsey...

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What’s in a Name: The Blacherne

The Blacherne Location: Downtown Named after:  Suburb of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) The Blacherne was the first luxury high-rise apartment building in Indianapolis.  It was developed by General Lew Wallace, the famous Indiana military leader and author of Ben Hur. From 1881 to 1885, under Presidents James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, Wallace served as the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) where he lived in Istanbul. He named the building after Blachernae, a suburb of Istanbul, Turkey, that is home to the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae. Photos courtesy of Ryan...

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What’s In a Name: McCrea Street

McCrea St. Location:  Downtown Rollin Hall McCrea, Fahnley & McCrea Millinery Company McCrea St., now a small alley in the Wholesale District, was once the home of Fahnley & McCrea Millinery Company. The company was originally a wholesale millinery under the name of Stiles, Fahnley & McCrea, which Rollin McCrea established with partners Daniel Stiles and Frederick Fahnley around 1865.  Around 1869, Stiles retired from the business, which continued under the name Fahnley & McCrea.  In 1875, the business, which had continued to grow, bought land across the street from their first store on South Meridian Street.  The company is...

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What’s in a Name: Davidson Street

Davidson St. Location: Downtown, Cole-Noble Catherine & Alexander Davidson, daughter and son-in-law of Gov. Noah Noble Alexander Davidson was born to a prominent Virginia family around 1823. His father was Andrew Baker Davidson, born in 1779, who was a Presbyterian minister in Virginia and the principal of a girls’ school. Andrew was an 1807 graduate of Liberty Hall Academy, which later changed its name to Washington College (now Washington & Lee University). Also in that year, he married Susan Dorman. From 1815 to 1857, he was a trustee of Washington College and sent his five sons, including Alexander, to...

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What’s in a Name: Moller Road

Moller Rd. Peter “Chris” Moller, Wayne Township area landowner Peter “Chris” Moller was a Danish immigrant born in September 1856 and who emigrated to the United States in 1882. Moller owned land along present-day Moller Road along the border between Wayne and Pike townships, where he operated a dairy farm and milk delivery business. Early maps refer to the road as “Chris Moller Road.” Photos courtesy of Ryan...

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