HI Mailbag: The Lohrmann Residence

Written by on February 5, 2013 in Mailbag - 41 Comments
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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

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About the Author

Sharon Butsch Freeland is a freelance researcher, writer, proofreader, and editor. She's a proud alumna of Shortridge High School and MacMurray College and over the years has also taken courses at Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University, University of Colorado, Colorado Academy of Art, and the Indianapolis Art Center. She's been the executive director of a nonprofit association, a newspaper columnist, a residential real estate broker, and a political campaign staff member. Fascinated by Indianapolis history from an early age, Sharon's passion for bygone eras became even more compelling when she discovered that her ancestors had settled in Indiana in 1828. Since learning that she's a seventh generation Hoosier, many details about both the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis have taken on new meaning for her. Sharon enjoys helping others get excited about the history of Indianapolis, as well as the histories of their own families.

41 Comments on "HI Mailbag: The Lohrmann Residence"

  1. Jim February 5, 2013 at 6:49 am · Reply

    Thanks for telling this house’s story! I’ve never noticed it before as I’ve whizzed by, but will look for it now when I’m in the area. I especially love the photo of the house fronting a brick 16th Street before the road was moved. The house looks so inviting in that photo. I sure hope someone gives that house the love it deserves and lives in it again.

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm · Reply

      I too was intrigued by the 1940s photo of the house prior to the relocation of the street and bridge. It appears that the house had a typical setback of maybe 25 or 30 feet from the sidewalk and street. The Lohrmanns must have enjoyed sitting out on their large, open front porch, watching the vehicles and pedestrians go by. I made an interesting observation when looking at Google and bing maps. If you look at an aerial or bird’s eye view of the property, you can still see lines on the ground where the all-brick W. 16th Street used to run in front of the house! That street has been gone for 64 years!

  2. Scott February 5, 2013 at 9:47 am · Reply

    I drive past this house every day on the way to work, and I’m totally in love with it. It’s been on the market for years. I investigated it a couple years ago and discovered the land had been rezoned at some level of commercial, and I believe it was listed for around $950,000 at the time. It’s a really large parcel of land, but I can’t imagine it selling at that price anytime soon.

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm · Reply

      Unfortunately, the property is surrounded by commercial properties, so it would probably be difficult to find a residential buyer. Currently, the assessed valuation for the property on which the house and barn were built, plus two adjacent smaller lots with Pershing and Sheffield Avenue addresses that are part of the package, is $596,200!

  3. basil berchekas jr February 5, 2013 at 9:48 am · Reply

    Just west of the intersection of 16th and Lafayette Road was a drive-in called the Pole. Similar to, say, the Tee Pee that was at Fall Creek Parkway North Drive and 38th. Remember this house AND the barn and outbuildings, and remember the several acres around it actually being farmed at one time. This was a “few years back”, to say the least! Also remember land just west of the former Monon Railroad, immediately south of 38th, that was a small farm (actually functioning) that was removed and became a parking lot for Purdue’s extension center prior to the center merging into IUPUI downtown. The farm would be in the eastern edge of the Watson-McCord neighborhood. I will admit this “remembrance” goes back to about 1969-1970!

    • Emily December 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm · Reply

      Does anyone remember the car wash that sat at 34th and Lafayette Rd many years ago? (Southwest corner of intersection)

      • Jeanne June 27, 2015 at 1:37 pm · Reply

        Yes, Big Barney’s Car Wash. About 40 years ago, it was owned by Dr. David Decatur (deceased), I believe.

  4. Louis Mahern February 5, 2013 at 10:35 am · Reply

    Another great post. I have admired that place for years. Are there any remnants of the old bridge still standing? What about the low coffer dam across White River south of 16th St.?

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm · Reply

      You can definitely see the stonework of the dam, southeast of the Emrich / Lohrmann property. Here’s a link: http://binged.it/Xfpmqw.

      I do not see any obvious evidence of the former bridge’s remnants. Here’s a link to the area nearer to the house: http://binged.it/11nzp3e.

      • Louis Mahern February 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm · Reply

        I took some photos of the dam last summer when I was out on a bike ride. I wonder what prompted its construction.

  5. Julia Rutland February 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm · Reply

    THANK YOU for highlighting this residence. I don’t know how many times I’ve passed it and just stared at it, wondering what it could be!! I should have known you all would have known the answer – yayy!! Thanks again!!

  6. Norm Morford February 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm · Reply

    Another good job, Sharon!

  7. David Brewer February 5, 2013 at 9:30 pm · Reply

    Great post–especially the old newspaper article and photo. I’ve often hoped someone would do something nice with this one. There are a lot of old interesting structures in that neighborhood–including the old Red Gables Night Club on the Northwest corner of 16th and Lafayette Road:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/shushmuckle/2416365856/

  8. Libby Cierzniak February 6, 2013 at 11:18 pm · Reply

    I’m glad to find out the history behind the Emrichsville Bridge. A couple of years ago, I went looking for information about the lost town of Emrichsville, and found a newspaper article from the 1950s or 1960s where the reporter was recounting her unsuccessful effort to find Emrichsville, I found some Emrichs in old city directories, but wasn’t sure where the addresses were located. Thanks for nailing it down.

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm · Reply

      I stumbled upon that same Myrtie Barker article in September of 1957, as well as a follow-up article in October of the same year. After her initial “My Window” article ran in which she puzzled over Emrichsville’s whereabouts, readers contacted her with information about it. I also came across a newspaper blurb about two Emrich family homes that had to be moved when the 1948 bridge was built and the 1906 bridge was demolished. I’ll send you some files via e-mail attachment.

  9. John Emrich February 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm · Reply

    I am an Emrich with the same spelling. I know that there once was an Emrich Furniture on W. Morris St. I don’t believe they were related to me. I also do not know if the Emrichs of W. 16th street were related to me. I do know my father, same name, was raised in the Garfield Park area. Does any of this fit into the story?

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 11, 2013 at 1:35 am · Reply

      If you will provide me with your parents’ full names and years of birth and your grandparents’ full names and years of birth, I will try to ascertain if there is a connection between “your” Emrichs and the other Emrichs who resided on the west side. If you don’t wish to give out that kind of information on a website that anyone can access, you can e-mail the information to me privately at sharon.butsch.freeland@gmail.com.

  10. Courteny February 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm · Reply

    I love this house so much! I grew up on Kessler Blvd (and just moved back to Kessler), and I want to buy this house and give the it love and care it deserves. I hope it doesn’t decay into the ground before that (theoretical) day arrives. Thanks so much for giving the history; I’ve found it nowhere else.

  11. Sybil March 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm · Reply

    I was curious about this place and I recently moved to the area. Oh, to have a million dollars to buy it! It looks wonderful from the street. The article was wonderful. I am glad I found it.

  12. basil berchekas jr March 7, 2013 at 11:07 am · Reply

    I remember seeing this home and barn on the left, driving west on 16th right after crossing the river; it appeared to be a “farm remnant” similar to the “farm remnant” (house and barn and outbuildings) just west of the Monon tracks just south of East 38th, that was removed later for parking for the Purdue extension facilities that were later torn down when the Purdue programs were integrated downtown as part of IUPUI. Another farm remnant was located on East 10th west of Bosart at Linwood across from the Emerson Theater that was the Neuerberg (sic.) farm now occupied by Linwood Square. Just trivia!

  13. Darla Darnell January 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm · Reply

    It was really nice to see the article about this home. The last time I saw it, it was still in use as a mortuary. The barn was still there. I am a direct descendant of the Emrichs of Emrichsville, and the Bessie Emrich who was questioned in the Myrtie Barker story. Emrich furniture was a part of the family line as well. It is just so wonderful to find more information on that line of our family tree

  14. Diana Brooks March 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm · Reply

    This is just the article we were looking for! I belong to a Facebook Group “Grew Up In Eagledale”, and someone asked about this property. Thank you so much for sharing the history, news-clipping, and photos. I wish this home could be restored and used for a restaurant/shops. I would hate to see it demolished.

  15. Jerry Emery May 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm · Reply

    Pretty sure there was an Emrich Meats just east of Kentucky Av and Mccarty St when I was a kid. And no I’m not thinking of Emgee.

    • basil berchekas jr May 20, 2014 at 4:09 pm · Reply

      i believe the Emrichsville bridge (now West 16th Street bridge) was named after the community that grew up west of White River (West Fork) at this point along the old Crawfordsville Road (now West 16th), named after the Emrich family who owned a large farmhouse just west of the bridge…up to “not long ago” there were actually a barn or two plus farm outbuildings alongside or behind the house (on the south side of West 16th, west of the bridge…)

  16. Darla Darnell May 22, 2014 at 9:56 pm · Reply

    Am pretty sure there was an Ekrich Meats around, I don’t recall seeing anything from Emrichs. I know that there was a grocery store that Judge Emrich ran, blacksmithing was also a part of the family business. I have a lot of the family history for some of the Emrichs. Some of the Emrichs and their descendants lived in Mars Hill, Drexel Gardens, and Speedway.

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland May 24, 2014 at 3:18 pm · Reply

      Eckrich was located in Fort Wayne.

  17. Diane Caylor June 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm · Reply

    I have really enjoyed this article. I am related to the Emrichs through Jacob, and love finding out any information I can on the family.

    • Darla Darnell December 12, 2014 at 10:30 pm · Reply

      Diane, which part of Jacob’s family are you from?

      • Diane Caylor December 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm · Reply

        My connection to the family is through Jacob’s son, Edward. Edward’s daughter Stella was my grandmother.

        • darla July 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm · Reply

          Jacob’s son, Jacob was my great grandfather, he was married to Bessie, mother of Dorothy, mother of Marvin, my father

  18. Juel DeHoniesto August 22, 2014 at 11:41 am · Reply

    So interesting to learn of that house’s history. I moved close to that area about twenty years ago and was always intrigued by that picturesque house. It seemed odd that such a charming place was usually vacant and then for a short while was a funeral parlor. Thank you for such a detailed history of that entire area and the family that built it.

  19. Phil Brooks September 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm · Reply

    Great stuff as usual, thanks!
    .
    Does anyone recall when White River Parkway was rerouted near that house? “Interesting” how traffic flows through there…

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland September 21, 2014 at 11:19 pm · Reply

      My best guess as to when both White River Parkway and West 16th Street were modified is 1948 or 1949, when the present 16th Street bridge was being installed and the beautiful Emrichsville Bridge was being demolished. On the 1941 Baist Atlas map, what is now Waterway Boulevard was alternately called Crawfordsville Road or Speedway Avenue, and what is now North White River Parkway West Drive was simply called White River Parkway then.
      .
      On the 1941 map, White River Parkway went all the way to 16th Street and intersected it, whereas now it curves west and flows into North Pershing Avenue. There’s still a little stretch of pavement that was formerly White River Parkway, which dead-ends just south of West 16th Street and alongside the Lohrmann property. That little stub of a street doesn’t appear to have a name any more.
      .
      Here’s a link to the 1941 Baist Atlas Plan #30: http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/SanbornJP2/id/1913/rec/33.
      .
      Here’s a link to a bird’s eye view of the present day streets:
      http://binged.it/1ucm9fw.

      • Phil Brooks September 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm · Reply

        Thanks for the quick response, and links!

  20. Emily December 12, 2014 at 11:31 pm · Reply

    Also, the building that is off of Lafayette Rd just south of 30th St. What is the history with that structure? I believe that it has “Flackville” on the front – not sure if that is actual spelling or name.

    • Tiffany Benedict Berkson December 13, 2014 at 9:26 am · Reply

      Are you talking about the school? http://historicindianapolis.com/sunday-prayers-flackville-school/

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland December 13, 2014 at 9:45 am · Reply

      The property at 2930 Lafayette Road was originally School No. 1 in the Wayne Township School System. Its alternate name was Flackville School, as the area was at one time known as Flackville. The name came from the Flack family, who owned a number of parcels of land in Wayne Township. The greatest concentration of their properties was in the vicinity of West 30th Street, from White River on the east to Georgetown Road on the west. The school was built prior to the annexation of that part of Wayne Township to the City of Indianapolis. After that area became part of Indianapolis, the school was renumbered to be School 100 in the IPS System. It retained the Flackville name. The owner of record is currently the Evangelical Peniel Church.

  21. Melissa December 13, 2014 at 8:28 am · Reply

    Very thankful to have this history in light of the fire at the property yesterday.

  22. John March 19, 2015 at 12:32 am · Reply

    Thanks for the great article. I have gone by the home for years, on trips downtown from Eagledale as a kid and now on my daily commute from Speedway. I have memories of riding on the “ghost road” that can be seen in the current day aerial photo you posted. The roof is really deteriorating, perhaps hastened by the fire and the rough winters we’ve recently had. As others have posted, I hope there’s some way this historic beauty can be saved.
    .
    I also attended 5th and 6th grade at IPS 100, or Flackville School. I can remember exactly where I was there when President Kennedy was shot. My teacher for both years, Mrs. Quinn, was the wife of the owner or operator of the former Shell station nearby at 30th and Lafayette Road. Our principal, Mr. Harker, was the longtime engineer on the Indianapolis Zoo train.

  23. Diane Rhyne June 27, 2015 at 10:47 am · Reply

    I just saw this article on FB. How interesting! I believe I am a distant relative of the sisters who lived in that house on 16th Street. I have a picture of Chris Broun and Lena Jordan with my Grandmother at my Grandmother’s home in the Garfield Park area. My Grandmother’s family came from Germany in 1927. Her maiden name was Mauer, and I was told Chris and Lena were cousins from the Mauer line. Love to have more information about this! I have always admired the beauty of that house, everytime I have passed it on 16th street.

  24. Brian Emrich August 29, 2015 at 1:32 am · Reply

    This home is from my cousins Chris, Lena and Mary. My dad knew them much better than I – I would just see them at Christmas. I visited the house several times. My dad, Marvin Emrich, would have much more information on this. He lived in a house that was moved. Feel free to contact me. emrichbke@gmail.com. Our family has pictures of this area. I’m 46 so it’s well before my time but part of my family history.

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