Indianapolis Then and Now: 200 block of E. 16th Street

Written by on April 11, 2013 in Then & Now - 7 Comments
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Sixteenth Street, at one time a dirt road known as Tinker (and later 7th) Street, is undergoing revitalization and promises to once again become a commercial corridor for the two neighborhoods that it borders: Herron-Morton Place and the Old Northside. As Indianapolis strives to become a walkable city, it is interesting to note all of the services and stores once located in the 200 block of East 16th Street just a short stroll from residential areas.

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Electric poles dominate East 16th Street in this 1927 view made by the Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPL). The photographer faced west and captured the intersection of North Alabama Street. Shown on the left (south) in what is now the Old Northside Neighborhood is a two-story brick drugstore then owned by Alf R. Thomas, and several one-story brick structures occupied by Bailey and Hackleman radios, a poultry store, a potato chip shop, Harry Hume’s grocery, the Wawasee Pastry Shop, Benjamin Prather’s restaurant, a barber, and a dry goods store.  In the distance is the spire of the First Congregational Church. Not visible on the corner of 16th and Delaware is the First Presbyterian Church, constructed in 1901 and now home to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the Harrison Center for the Arts.

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

The north side of East 16th Street (currently the southern border of Herron-Morton Place Neighborhood) contained the Walsingham Apartments (the three-story brick building to the far left on the corner of 16th and Delaware Streets); Meyer Jacobs Cleaners and Tailors (located there until the 1970s), Sing Lee Chinese Laundry, Anna Barricklow’s restaurant, Walter F. Jenkins upholstery shop, and Wiles and Wilson’s automobile garage. For a couple of years in the early 1920s, the garage was occupied by Alena Steam Products Company, manufacturers of steam engines with dreams of making steam cars, trucks, and tractors (the company only manufactured two cars before closing shop in 1923). The older frame store on the northeast corner of East 16th and Alabama Streets housed a Standard Grocery and a lunch counter.

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Eight years later IPL’s photographer returned to document the removal of the overbearing poles and wires. By 1935 the corner drug store on the left was operated by Benjamin C. Harbison. The Great Atlantic & Pacific store (later known as A&P Grocery) on the right now featured a painted billboard advertising Polk’s Milk.

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power and Light Distribution Company photographs owned by Dee Dee Davis

In this close-up view of the north side of 16th at Alabama, it’s evident that the old frame Standard Grocery building had been razed and replaced with a Hy Red filling station owned by Mid Western Petroleum Corporation. Adjacent to the station was Patterson Brothers’ Body Shop and Auto Painting. In 1935 the Chinese laundry was listed as Sung Lee Laundry.

Courtesy Google Street View, 2011

Courtesy Google Street View, 2011

By 2011, the old A&P Grocery was long gone and the today the land serves as a parking lot for Redeemer Presbyterian Church, the Harrison Center, and Greg’s (a gay bar and nightclub located on the south side of the street). The old drug store now serves as offices and banquet space for Greg’s with an upstairs apartment. The church spire still stands in the distance and now houses the Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church. After serving many purposes through the years, Herron School of Art bought the old body shop, Chinese laundry, and gas station and converted them into a sculpture foundry. After the foundry moved in the 1990s, the buildings sat empty for many years until IUPUI sold the compound to the Herron-Morton Place Foundation. Although the laundry building collapsed, the Foundation raised funds to stabilize the old foundry and, after six years of seeking an ideal tenant to serve the needs of the neighborhood, sold the structures to brothers Mark and Josh Nottingham.

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services, 10 April 2013

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services, 10 April 2013

Today the brightly painted structures hold offices for Nottingham Realty Group (in the blue building) and a coffee shop named Foundry Provisions, much to the pleasure of hundreds of former Herron sculpture students.

 

Courtesy of Nottingham Realty Group (like them on Facebook!)

Courtesy of Nottingham Realty Group 

Nottingham Realty Group, specializing in residential real estate, moved into the rehabbed old garage and radiator shop in 2012. Designers retained the industrial look and incorporated original architectural features such as a garage door divider and window frame display boards.

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services

Foundry Provisions formally opened to the public last weekend. To refer to the place as just a coffee shop is not doing it justice since they offer unique sandwiches and paninis, daily soup, excellent fruit smoothies, and baked goods.

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services

Photo by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services

Paying homage to the former tenant, the first of the monthly rotating art displays features the found-item assemblages of sculptor Todd Bracik, who took classes at the foundry while a student at Herron.

 

What other buildings and blocks would you like to see featured in Indianapolis Then and Now? Please share your old photographs!

 

 

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About the Author

Joan Hostetler and John Harris own Heritage Photo & Research Services. The company specializes in house and building research and historic photograph preservation, interpretation, archiving, and digitization. Since they see so many cool photographs tucked away in attics and basements, they recently created "The Indiana Album" to borrow, scan, and share hidden Indiana images with the public. Like them on facebook or send them an email to share your photographs.

7 Comments on "Indianapolis Then and Now: 200 block of E. 16th Street"

  1. Norm Morford April 11, 2013 at 11:45 am · Reply

    Thanks, Joan.

  2. basil berchekas jr April 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm · Reply

    This article is both visually and historically interesting and intriguing…can’t wait to see more…near there I also enjoyed the article about Kroger’s and the historical heritage of that particular corner, plus the Kroger’s article about East

  3. basil berchekas jr April 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm · Reply

    This article is superbly intriguing…both from a visual and written historical point. Like your earlier article on the former Kroger’s store which stood on the site of Stoughton Fletcher Sr’s Clifford Place estate on East 10th Street.. I used to shoot pool on 16th about Delaware or so which is now either closed or under renovation…(also shot pool in the “basement” level of the former Board of Trade Building where Chase Tower now stands)

  4. Donna Winsted April 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm · Reply

    Great story, Joan! I used to work at 18th and Alabama from 1955 to 1958, then moved there to work again in 1959 to around 1963. In the late 1950s, the northwest corner of 16th and Alabama had a restaurant in the old gas station and there was a “greasy spoon” on the northeast corner. I think there was a drug store on the southwest corner, but that is vague. IPL (back then it was IPALCO) occupied a large building on the southeast corner there. Seeing those photos brought back a lot of memories! Thanks!! 😀

    • Steven R L Gillam July 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm · Reply

      The Hubba Hut Grill at 1610 N. Alabama St, Indianapolis, IN……..The greasy spoon restaurant …..was my Great Grandparents restaurant!!! Charlie and Pearlie Mae Barker Gilliam/Gillam. They also lived and ran a boarding house at 1452 N Alabama St, Indpls, IN 46201. There young daughter Audrey Alice Gillam Mathews Gillam lived there until her passing in. March 2005. I was in charge of the estate or funeral.

      • Steven R L Gillam July 15, 2016 at 9:47 pm · Reply

        Actually The Hubba Hut Grill was on the on the NW corner. Not sure what years they had the restuarant open. I know they moved to 1452 N Alabama St Indpls. from Knightstown/ Raysville, In sometime after their daughter Molly passed in 1940. They both become very ill by the late 1960s

  5. George Starkey April 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm · Reply

    Fascinating history lesson!
    I just drove by the Foundry restaurant yesterday, and was intrigued by the name and what I could see of the interior. I’ll put that on my “must try soon” list.

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