2515 North Broadway

For those of us who are both sentimental and care for the aesthetics of Indianapolis, we’d be hard-pressed to consider buying anything but an older home.

Older homes get a bad rap—deemed ‘hard to care for,’ ‘require lots of maintenance,’ ‘are drafty’ and ‘just old’—as if mere age renders a building undesirable. Based on personal experience, it is not age, but home ownership in general that’s a never-ending, time and money sucking monolith. No domicile can go sans updates and fixes for decades without having the infrastructural breakdowns. (You have to go to the doctor every now and then, right?) Truth be told, most materials used in the construction of older homes are superior, durable and have already proven their ability to stand the test of time. Newer construction is often cheap, flimsy and of inferior quality. So, in reality, if the older homes are properly cared for and maintained, they are just as good, if not, better than that which is constructed today.

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New staircase elements, original layout

Unfortunately, many of the older homes in Indianapolis have been tortured to within an inch of their lives, making it little wonder that the lazy or shall we say less creative problem solvers would rather just bust out a bulldozer. If the proliferation of vinyl villages and the ability of some to discard a former home like a used tissue (moving on to something brand new) continues, the core of the city will likewise continue to struggle with what to do with mistreated existing housing stock.


Finished 3rd floor suite

What to do when a house has been carved up, maimed, altered in every way, original elements stripped and interior character eviscerated? Sure, you could knock it down or you could figure out a way to give it a new lease on life. Retaining what is left in 2013 is particularly important in an area where much of the original housing stock has already been lost. Take for example: 2515 North Broadway—a 100+ year old home that had been carved into apartments and stripped of its original interior craftsmanship. In its nearby surroundings: a few historic homes, some newer, and a number of vacant lots awaiting redevelopment. Solution for this home: retain the historic look of the exterior, while recreating a new single family home interior. It took a lot of gumption (and a larger skill set) to create a new home inside the shell of an old one. Much of King Park Area is experiencing a renaissance, and this home is one of the success stories.

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One of the 2nd floor rooms

And rather than saying ‘there used to be a house here,’ we can say ‘a hero once lived in this home.’  Earl Barcus, a bugler for Battery A, 158th Field Artillery, Rainbow Division was killed in action during World War I. His parents continued to live in this home, while his mortal remains were laid to rest at Crown Hill.

Now what was old, is brand-new and the future heroes or other stories are yet to be written by the next family to make this a home again. And though the former families may not have touched these exact walls, the floor plan they knew has been mostly retained, while renewed.

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Dining Room

This home is listed by HI sponsor Larry Gregerson after being saved and reinvented by HI sponsor Axia Urban. Click here for full details and better/ more photos.

9 responses to “Friday Favorite: Saving Old Housing Stock”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    A wonderful blog! Will stay with it…grew up in a nineteen-twenties (1925-6) one story bungalow on the East Side.

  2. Norm Morford says:

    Good job! Someone will get a fine home.

  3. Marilyn Jacobs says:

    This is lovely. I love old houses. I remember looking at one that looked lovely on the outside but image was shattered on the inside because they had gutted it and made it all modern. It lost all of its character.
    Thanks again for a great article.

  4. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    My maternal grandfather, Stuart Austin Tomlinson (1898-1981), was a good friend of Earl Barcus. They were born a year apart, grew up a few blocks from one another, and enlisted in the Army about the same time. My grandfather was also a bugler in WWI in the same unit of the Rainbow Division as Earl. Luckily, my grandfather made it home, or I wouldn’t be here today. Sadly, Earl Barcus was the only child of Joshua and Edna Barcus, so they had no descendants.
    Here’s a link to a photo of my grandfather (complete with bugle attached to his belt), taken in Marne, France:

  5. basil berchekas jr says:

    One sad situation that occurred during WW I was Lieutenant Hilton U Brown Jr. who was a young Army Officer in WW I that was killed in action no more than three or four days prior to the Armistice that brought the combat in WW I to an end. There’s a small historic sign on East Washington Street along the green space facing Pleasant Run just west of Emerson Avenue that discusses the young Brown’s playing “soldier” there as a kid…(on the north side of Washington, across Washington from where “Brown’s Hill” was located…an informal skating hill next to the old Brown home, used by generations of East Side kids with the elder Brown’s permission, prior to a damned gas station, now a convenience store, being built there on the southwest corner of Washington and Emerson, which Richard Lugar insisted be built there when he was Mayor; he also allowed or authorized the development of subdivisions around Geist Reservoir ruining that watershed for public use…long before he became an “elder statesman” who “cared” about the environment, but all this is another story for another time…)

  6. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    My dad used to take my siblings and me to Brown’s Hill to sled, during the years we lived across the street from the Naval Ordnance Plant (1949-1955). It seemed like such a big hill then!

  7. basil berchekas jr says:

    It sure did, Sharon! We went down there from 21st and Emerson ourselves!

  8. Jeffrey Congdon says:

    The 2515 North Broadway house will be open for viewing Sunday, February 24th from 2 to 4. See what can be done with a fine old house that was mostly destroyed inside, but is now new, but reasonably faithful to its original charm.

  9. Tom Davis says:

    Hilton U. Brown Jr. has a cenotaph (a monument but no burial) on the family lot in Crown Hill. (Section 2 Lot 32) He is buried in one of the national cemeteries in France. The family elected to bury him near where he fell. If you can find a copy of Hilton Sr.’s memoir, I think it’s named A Book of Memories, he discusses his son’s death and burial. He also published a book that I think collected some of Hilton Jr.’s writings etc. but I didn’t get my hands on it when I had a chance years ago.

    Earl Barcus was buried in Section 58 Lot 122 on June 4, 1921, which probably means his remains weren’t brought stateside for several years after his death. Another casualty of WWI, a victim of the flu like so many of them, named Osric Mills Watkins, has a very nice monument on the same section. You’ll have to scroll down but you can find his story here . Because he’s buried within 100 yards of Dillinger and just a few years older, I often follow a stop at Dillinger’s grave with a stop at his grave to provide a sort of counterbalance.

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