Indianapolis Then and Now: S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road

Written by on May 23, 2013 in Then & Now - 20 Comments
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Bluff Road begins in the 1900 block of S. Meridian Street and  angles southwest creating a wedge-shaped parcel. Long ago a two-story frame flatiron building was constructed on the land and through the years it housed a hardware, drug store, a rowdy biker bar and strip club, and even a church before its demolition in the late 1980s.

1927, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

1927, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

Luckily, Indianapolis Power and Light captured the corner in 1927 and again in 1936 when the company documented a electric pole consolidation project. In the 1927 view, a sign above the corner entrance reads “Cut Price Drugs.” As early as 1910, pharmacist Charles W. Schwenzer operated a drug store at this site. Newspaper ads reveal that the store had a soda fountain and leased space to a doctor. After Schwenzer’s death in 1924, his son-in-law John P. Hermann managed the store until the late 1920s. This view looks south on S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road is seen to the right. Note the trolley tracks in the middle of the street and the line worker high up on the pole in front of the store. Although not visible in this view, the Belt Railroad tracks run east and west just south of the drug store.

1936, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

1936, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

By 1936 pharmacist Merrill G. Christie had purchased the drug store and spruced it up with a paint job and modern signs. His business was first known as Christie and Weddle, and he and partner Wilson N. Weddle ran a hardware in the back (1907 Bluff Road) and the pharmacy in front. By 1945 Weddle moved on and the hardware only lasted until about 1950. Christie offered retail drugs, smokers’ supplies, cosmetics, ice cream, and cherry coke at the soda fountain. By this point the railroad tracks had been elevated. A Shell gas station sat across the street and a sign guides motorists to turn onto Bluff Road (also known as State Road 37A) to head to Brown County. Christie’s Pharmacy was a popular neighborhood destination until the 1960s. By the 1970s, the building became a notorious bar named Kings Country Club. The biker bar/strip club was owned by Dave Baker and it lasted until the 1980s.

1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, IUPUI University Library

1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, IUPUI University Library

 

Google aerial view, 2001

Google aerial view, 2001

 

Google Street View, July 2011

Google Street View, July 2011

Oddly the building was then occupied briefly by a church prior to demolition sometime between 1986 and 1991. Today the triangle-shaped lot barely seems large enough to have housed a thriving business block that anchored this corner for over 80 years.

All of us Historic Indianapolis contributors appreciate your comments and memories. The dates and facts are rather bland without personal memories that breath life into these places, so please feel free to comment below or on Facebook. 

 

 

 

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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.

20 Comments on "Indianapolis Then and Now: S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road"

  1. Jason May 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm · Reply

    When I think of Bluff road I think of the Janie show or Cowboy Bob. Weren’t their studios on Bluff Road?

  2. basil berchekas jr May 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm · Reply

    Wish to see more of these (also know this corner…barely remember when south Meridian and Bluff Road were state routes…south of here, Meridian was also known as “Three Notch Road”…

  3. KurtL May 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm · Reply

    The WTTV studios were down the road some at the intersection of Sumner Ave and Bluff Rd. I drove by there last week and the abandoned structure is looking pretty forlorn.

  4. dana hubbard May 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm · Reply

    Indeed this was the site of a “rowdy” biker bar, although more typical than notorious for the era. I played drums there in the mid to late Seventies and at the time its most redeeming feature was a stage for the band fronted with actual chicken wire! Just like “Roadhouse” or more like a low-rent version of Bob’s Country Bunker.
    -dh

  5. Joan Hostetler May 24, 2013 at 11:50 am · Reply

    Dana (or anyone), I would love to add other photos of either the interior or exterior of the place through the years. Also, does anyone remember the exact year that Christie’s Drug Store closed, when Kings Country Club opened, and when the building was demolished? I am missing several Indianapolis city directories and have not had time to go to the library.

    • nancy capps July 5, 2016 at 7:58 pm · Reply

      I moved to 1900 south talbott avenue in early 1967. I walked to Christie’s rx at that time and within a few months they were having close out sales and soon closed their doors.

  6. robert carey May 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm · Reply

    Than you very much for your work. Our Society would like to share that on your photograph , unseen, on the other corner was one of the last One- Room Schoolhouses, still in the city.

  7. Joan Hostetler June 9, 2013 at 2:03 am · Reply

    Robert: What was the name of the one-room school?

  8. scotty June 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm · Reply

    South of there is the cemeteries. The roads were probably split to accommodate them.

  9. johnnie July 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm · Reply

    I grew up at 1248 s Illinois st I’ve been in that neiborhood all my life .I love seeing these old photos and would like to know were I can find more of them to browse thru .my family has been there for a very long time .I used to also play at the old concord center .pleas if u can give a some info were to find more photos I would love to look at them .maybe some from s Illinois st and Kansas st were I grew up at . ThNk u

    • Joan Hostetler July 25, 2013 at 9:35 am · Reply

      Johnnie, There are many sources for photographs in Indianapolis such as the Indiana Historical Society (particularly the Bass Photo Company Collection), the Indiana State Library, and the digital collections posted by IUPUI’s University Library. Finding images from residential neighborhoods away from the heart of the commercial area is challenging as these are more likely snapshots in personal collections. This is why I’m coordinating a project to scan personally-owed photographs of subjects such as houses, streets, businesses, churches, schools, etc. to make obscure photos available in an online community digital album. Join our Facebook page (“Indiana Album”) to see a sampling of images collected to date (we’ll launch a web site catalog soon).

  10. Charles T. Sherman May 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm · Reply

    I’ve driven. That area of town forever! Great history lesson ! Thank YOU!!!

  11. Laura June 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm · Reply

    Hi! According to Census records, my family lived on a farm on Three Notch Road from 1900 through at least the 1930s (no luck finding anyone in the 1940 census). An Uncle’s obituary notes that he lived “3 miles south on Three Notch Road”… Depending on the census, the other roads near were Southport and Saylor.. Can you give me an idea where this is? (I’m from Ft Wayne, so not real familiar with Indianapolis, but I do know of Southport Rd 🙂 … ) Thanks much!!

    • basil berchekas jr June 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm · Reply

      Apparently this would be around Hanna Avenue or south of there, on what is now known as South Meridian Street. South Meridian Street was formerly known as Three Notch Road (early pioneers marked the route with three hatchet notches on trees to designate it. Apparently it eventually connected to Maux Ferry Road further south, which connected to the Ohio River around Harrison or Perry counties, I think..

      • Laura July 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm · Reply

        Thanks much!

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland June 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm · Reply

      Three Notch Road was the name by which a portion of what is now South Meridian Street was formerly known. It was the stretch of Meridian Street that’s between Troy Avenue on the north and County Line Road on the south. The boundary between Center and Perry Townships is Troy Avenue, which was at one time Indianapolis’ city limits. After portions of Perry Township were annexed to the City of Indianapolis, Three Notch Road was renamed South Meridian Street.
      .
      I have an old map of the area that shows the names of landowners along Three Notch Road who owned multiple acres. If your family had a farm, then they undoubtedly had acreage. They may be listed on the map. If you want to tell me your familly’s name, I’d be happy to see if I can find their property. The map does not have street addresses, since it was out in the country at that time, but I can probably approximate a modern day address.
      .
      If you would prefer not to give your family’s name here, you can send an e-mail to historicindianapolis(at)yahoo(dot)com and put Three Notch Road in the subject line.

      • Laura July 27, 2014 at 9:35 pm · Reply

        Thanks for the responses! I believe Frank Doehring is the Uncle who owned the land. His brother Nicholas died in 1899 – he’s the obituary I referenced. Thank you for any assistance!!

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland July 28, 2014 at 11:56 am · Reply

      Laura,
      .
      It appears from the 1931 Wagner map that your family’s property was between Griffin Road (on the north) and Stop 11 Road (on the south) and on the east side of the street. Three Notch Road is now called Meridian Street. The address would today be in about the 7600 block of S. Meridian Street. The properties on S. Meridian Street are all commercial, but the area east of it, which would have been part of your family’s farm, is a housing addition called Meridian Manor.
      .
      Here’s a link to the 1931 Wagner map: http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15078coll8/id/1079
      .
      Here’s a link to a 2012 aerial view of the area: http://binged.it/1rRZtyi
      .
      Hope this helps.
      .
      Sharon

  12. Chris Parsons February 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm · Reply

    Further up the road at 500 S. Meridian was the Sports Arena, and I’ve been trying to find some info about it to no avail, and wondered if anyone here has any information about it?

  13. HP February 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm · Reply

    I know this is an old thread. but I have a question about Bluff, or what used to be on Bluff and Hanna. It is Bluff Park now, but according to old aerial photos there used to be a structure near the corner of Bluff and Hanna, where it stood is now the parking lot of Bluff park. The baseball fields had been baseball fields for quite some time, in a different layout though. I am trying to figure it out and that’s how I found this article. Anyone remember? I think it was there until sometime between 1971 and 1992.

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