Indianapolis Then and Now: Buddenbaum Grocery / Santorini Greek Kitchen, 1413 Prospect Street

Written by on February 26, 2015 in Then & Now - 6 Comments
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Fountain Square neighborhood on the southeast side is becoming one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Indianapolis with a mix of affordable housing, a thriving commercial district, interesting cultural events, and many popular restaurants and bars. But to many of us, it’s the area’s history and older structures that give it character. Next time you visit the Santorini Greek Kitchen on the southeast corner of Prospect and Laurel Streets, try to envision a visit to the Charles H. Buddenbaum Grocery in the 1880s.

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library

Courtesy of the Indiana State Library

Fountain Square’s two main commercial corridors–Virginia Avenue and Prospect Street–developed in the 1860s and this section of town became known as “the end” since it was at the end of the streetcar line. Located just a couple blocks east Shelby Street, this brick Italianate store dominated the corner and one can imagine neighbors gathering around a pot belly stove to gather goods and local gossip. Charles H. Buddenbaum (1860-1907) grew up in the grocery business and in 1882 married the daughter of Frederick Ostermeyer of Severin, Ostermeyer and Company, one of the city’s most prosperous wholesale grocers. At age 22, Charles is first listed as proprietor of the grocery store pictured above. Signage painted directly on the brick, as was popular during this era, identifies it as a Grocery & Tea Store. Perhaps the meat market in the adjacent one-story structure was part of the business, too. The dirt street in front (to the left) is Prospect Street and the address at this time was 155 (variously known as 1413, 1415, and 1417 Prospect after 1897).

By the early 1890s Buddenbaum took a business partner and moved the Buddenbaum and Heller Grocery half a block west to 1321 Prospect. For many decades afterward the old grocery was occupied as a drugstore, including Clary’s Laurel Pharmacy in the 1890s, Stuckmeyer Drugs in the 1910s and ’20s, John Cochran Drugs in the 1930s and ’40s, McKean Drugs in the 1950s, and Crescent Pharmacy in the 1960s. By 1975 the corner store housed Mills Furniture and Appliances (adjacent to the Swing Bar at 1417 Prospect). The Woodcutters’ Bar occupied the one-story section in 1985.

Detail. Courtesy of the Indiana State Library

Detail. Courtesy of the Indiana State Library

The store extended outside under the L-shaped porch that protected barrels full of brooms, stacks of wood, and produce. Signs promote soda and and cigars. The photograph at the Indiana State Library, actually a copy of the original, has handwritten notations indicating Prospect and Laurel Streets and the date “1880 ?.”  Two of the people posing for the photographer are identified as Harry Drotz and Jess Mount. The family of Emile and Elizabeth Drotz lived at 155 Prospect during the 1880 census with the French-born father  listed as a retail grocer and 19-year-old son William employed as a grocery clerk. Harry was born in 1875, making him about the right age to be one of the boys (perhaps the boy climbing the gas-light pole). Jess H. Mount, born in 1870, lived with his widowed mother Julia Mount and four sisters just a few houses east at 179 Prospect (where the Buddenbaums lived just a few years later). Perhaps because of his early years growing up near this store, Jess Mount spent most of his life in the grocery business from owning a vegetable huckster wagon to operating a grocery at 1435 Prospect Street. It is likely that this photograph was taken shortly after Buddenbaum took possession and had the signs painted in about 1881 or 1882.


Google Street View, July 2009

Google Street View, July 2009

In 2001 Taki and Jeanette Sawi, who first met on Santorini Island, opened Santorini Greek Kitchen on Shelby Street in Fountain Square. They quickly needed more space so they moved to 1415-17 Prospect in 2004. The award-winning authentic Greek restaurant suffered a fire in 2010 but rebuilt and is known today as one of the best Greek restaurants in town.

What do you remember about this historic Fountain Square store (reputedly built in 1858 according to one article)? Did the drugstore have a soda fountain? Did you frequent the adjacent bars? Did you ever occupy the upstairs apartment? Are you related to any of the former owners? Please share your memories and any other photographs of the building or neighborhood through the years. Thanks!

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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.

6 Comments on "Indianapolis Then and Now: Buddenbaum Grocery / Santorini Greek Kitchen, 1413 Prospect Street"

  1. Jerry Coffman February 26, 2015 at 9:27 am · Reply

    Found this article particularly interesting since in the 50’s and early 60’s my great aunt and uncle, Ernie and Helen Perry, lived in the west side of the double just east of what is now Santorini, the white house visible in the 2009 photo. We visited quite often and I do remember the bar at the corner, occasionally would get loud.
    My dad and I found Santorini several years ago while driving through the area where my mother grew up. I had spent 5 years in Greece in the USAF so we were always looking for a new Greek restaurant. needless to say every time I would come to visit dad we would have to have dinner at least once at Santorini. Brings back great memories of my younger days visiting family in the Fountain Square area. Thanks

  2. William Taber February 27, 2015 at 8:00 am · Reply

    In the early to late 1990s, the sign on this establishment was “Leroy’s Woodcutter Bar”. Many locals nicknamed it “The Throat Cutter”, due to a reputation, deserved or not, of rough and rowdy behavior. I personally never experienced such in my few visits there.

  3. Sharon Cunningham February 27, 2015 at 10:31 pm · Reply

    My Father-in-Law, Edward Cunningham. and the McHugh family owned the bar next to the drugstore (the one-story side) from approximately 1936 to 1955?. It was called The Moonglow. They also owned the empty lot next door for parking. They were Irish immigrants.

  4. D MIKELS SHEA March 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm · Reply

    My late husband Cortland W. Shea grew up best friends with the Buddenbaum family (Frank? and ?), and I think they were neighbors of Will and Pearl Shea on Poplar Road in Irvington. In any case, when my husband passed away in l994, we honored his wishes to avoid deadly calling and have a live band, open bar — a first in the newly opened Crown Hill Funeral Home. He was a Purple Heart AF veteran serving with RAF in England, later Korea–so his closed coffin had his military medals, hat, etc. He was also a nightly martini-or-two veteran, so we added his nightly glass complete with fake olive. I mention this because when the dear, dear very senior Mr. Buddenbaum was brought to the coffin by Frank, he remembered Cort’s childhood and military service but was puzzled by the unfamiliar glass, until someone told him Cort was never seen after 5 p.m. without the martini in hand, prompting him to question what exactly was a martini? He found out–someone took him to the bar, complete with ice carving and martinis on the rocks. I think he must have been in his high 90’s but a few minutes later he was manfully drinking–and enjoying–his new drink. The Shea family adored the Buddenbaums. No idea if Frank or his family is still around?

  5. Kristin Buddenbaum Spenny April 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm · Reply

    Thank you for sharing this information and pictures. My father’s name was Harry Charles Buddenbaum. I am curious and intrigued by my family’s history.

  6. Joslyn J Jelinek November 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm · Reply

    Loved to read this and post on my facebook. Charles H Buddenbaum was my great-great-great-grandfather. My mother, Kathryn Walson (nee Buddenbaum), told me about the store, and it is great to learn more about its lore and history. Another friend who lives in Indy says that she loves to eat at Santorini’s! Small world.

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