Reader’s Question: 

There is a fairly large structure, presumably a home, on the west bank of the White River at 16th Street that appears to be boarded up or abandoned.  It looks fairly impressive (what I can see of it while driving), but I can find no information on it online.  I figured if anyone could tell me about it, you could.  Thanks.  ~ Joseph Nield, Indianapolis   

HI’s Answer:

The structure about which you have inquired was indeed a private home.  For nearly a century, it was occupied by members of the same family.  In the past decade, it has been used for commercial purposes, including a funeral home.  It is currently vacant.  For about 135 years — from around 1860 until 1995 — the land on which the home stands was continuously owned by the Emrich family and their descendants.

The former Lohrmann residence on West 16th Street as it appeared on February 3, 2013  (photo by Michael L. Freeland)

The street address of the home is 2215 West 16th Street.  The residence was built in 1909 and 1910 by Henry Lohrmann, M.D. (1870-1952) and his wife, Bertha Emrich Lohrmann (1874-1967).  Dr. Lohrmann was a physician whose medical practice was located in the Newton Claypool Building at 41 E. Ohio Street (razed for the construction of CHASE Tower in 1990).  Mrs. Lohrmann a was a member of a large German family who had immigrated to the United States in the mid-1850s and settled in western Center Township and eastern Wayne Township.  At that time, this area of Marion County was not yet within Indianapolis’ city limits.

In 1910, the newly built Lohrmann residence was featured in The Indianapolis Star

When Franklin P. Emrich (1835-1890) died, he left land to his widow and children. Five-and-a-half acres on the west bank of the river, south of what was then called the Crawfordsville Road, went to youngest daughter, Bertha. She and Dr. Lohrmann married in 1904.  About the time of their marriage, the name of the street was changed from Crawfordsville Road to Speedway Avenue.  The couple built their home on the same site on which an earlier Emrich family home had been located.  By the time the Lohrmanns occupied their new home in 1910, the street name had again been changed to its present numerical nomenclature of West 16th Street.

Lohrmann family residence as it appeared before both the street and the bridge were moved north of their original locations     (photo courtesy of Lohrmann descendant, Christian Beck)

Soon after their arrival in Marion County in the late 1850s, members of the Emrich family purchased land along the banks of the White River in the vicinity of what is now West 16th Street and Lafayette Road. Initially, the Emrichs farmed the land. As more and more people settled in the area, the need for services arose, and businesses were established.  By the 1880s, the area had a grocery, a blacksmith shop, and a saloon, among other commercial enterprises. The village became known alternately as Emrichstown and Emrichsville. Unfortunately, the residents never sought their own post office, so it was never officially a town in any records books.  Nonetheless, in the Indianapolis city directories of the 1880s and 1890s, residents of the area were listed as residing in Emrichstown.

The Emrichsville Bridge over the White River, alongside the Lohrmann home was named for the unofficial town that it served

In 1906, the City of Indianapolis erected a beautiful new bridge across the White River.  It replaced the bridge that had been built there a few decades earlier, which had been damaged in a 1904 flood.  The new bridge was an impressive limestone structure with a massive archway and two towers. As had the previous bridge, the new bridge was also named the Emrichsville Bridge, for its proximity to the unofficial town. The name endured until the bridge was demolished in 1949, when it was replaced by the present 16th Street Bridge.

Postcard of the Emrichsville Bridge over White River, which was adjacent to the Lohrmann family’s property

 

The red arrow on the 1931 Wagner map points to the Lohrmann property (courtesy of Indiana State Library)

The red arrow on the 1931 Wagner map points to the Lohrmann family’s property   (courtesy of Indiana State Library)    CLICK TO ENLARGE   

A barn that was built in 1878 by the Emrichs remained on the Lohrmann property until 2009, when it was rescued by Indiana Landmarks.  Concerned about the historic building’s future, Indiana Landmarks dismantled the barn piece by piece, carefully numbering each item.  The barn was stored at the former Central State Hospital for a couple of years, until a  buyer could be found who would re-erect it.  The new owner of the Emrich/Lohrmann family barn is currently reassembling the 19th-century building in Jasper County, in the northwest part of the state.

Built in 1878, the barn remained on the Lohrmann property until it was rescued by Indiana Landmarks in 2009   (photo courtesy of Indiana Landmarks)

Following the deaths of Dr. and Mrs. Lohrmann in 1952 and 1967, the property was inherited by the couple’s three daughters, Christiana Lohrmann Broun (1905-2000), Mary Lohrmann Reiner (1907-1991), and Lena Lohrmann Jordan (1911-1995).  After Chris’ death, the property was sold to Long’s Bakery, which is just one block west of the home.  It subsequently changed hands three additional times.  Public records indicate the property is currently owned by Mercantile Bank in Quincy, Illinois. I phoned them to inquire about their plans for the property, but no one had returned my call by publication time.

Chris, Mary, and Lena Lohrmann

Chris, Mary, and Lena Lohrmann, in the yard of their home   (photo courtesy of Lorhmann descendant, Christian Beck)

 

If you have a question about Indianapolis history, please send it to historicindianapolis (at) yahoo (dot) com, with “HI Mailbag” in the subject line, and I will do my best to answer it. ~ Sharon