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Toward the end of its "hay day," the Steinmeier general store and Millersville blacksmith shop (darker building to the left)

Toward the end of its heyday: the Steinmeier general store circa 1930.  The area blacksmith shop sits to the left. The “walking man” is identified as Roy Anderson, a WWI pilot who flew out of Shoen Field at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Decades later, an owner of the old general store property found that Coke sign and numerous horse shoes buried in the side yard. 

What’s in Store for the Historic General Store at Millersville?

While chatting with a friend on a Facebook page devoted to local history buffs just a few weeks ago, I was introduced to a photo of the Steinmeier General Store (above). During the course of the conversation, it was revealed that the structure still exists. For days, I felt a nagging urge to try to locate the building — so on a sunny August evening, Starbucks in hand, I set off for adventure! (Well… for what amounts to “adventure” in my life.)

The darker building was a blacksmith shop adjacent to the General Store that no longer stands. A copy of Samuel Kerr's blacksmith journal, 1848, reveals that he lived with Hiram Bacon & his wife for several years.

The darker building was a blacksmith shop adjacent to the General Store. It no longer stands. A copy of blacksmith, Samuel Kerr’s, journal circa 1848, reveals that he lived with the local (and historically prominent) Bacon family for several years.

Though I had a reliable phone GPS and an aerial Google shot of the location, finding the site was still difficult because the once-vital crossroads have been abruptly truncated  by contemporary alleyways and parking lots.

 

The general store, hidden in a maze of contemporary structures and truncated streets. Look hard or you will miss it!

The general store, hidden in a maze of contemporary structures and truncated streets. Look hard as you drive past this intersection or you will miss it!

Once I did locate the spot however, I was rewarded with a vision of rare, gone-around-the-bend beauty — the kind that amateur historians crave. Poking around the neighborhood revealed some lovely old homes and remnants of long-gone structures that make the imagination reel — all nestled into a suburban mini-forest of mature trees.

Located near the intersection of Millersville Road and Dequincy stands, and hidden behind a nondescript strip mall stands a lonely old general whose fate is in question.

Located near the intersection of Millersville Road and Dequincy, and hidden behind a nondescript strip mall stands a lonely old “general” whose fate is in question.

I went on this expedition armed with just a little background on Millersville. Indeed, a  little background on just about anything-Indianapolis can be found online in the out-of-print ‘Encyclopedia of Indianapolis’ through IUPUI University Library. According to that book, the hamlet of Millersville, whose most vibrant days were in the mid-1800s, was centered near the intersection of Millersville Road and East 56th Street — a collection of homes and businesses that sprung up around the sites of two grist mills. The village, which never incorporated, was home to about 90 people by the 1880s.

Oral history of the area contends that a two-story house just north-east of the general store was at one time called the “Bat House” because of the many bats that inhabited the attic — ensuring that no one really wanted to live there.  Beside that home was the local tavern that had a wrap-around driveway where stage coaches would debark travelers before heading to the smithy for fresh horses.  Tavern patrons would sometimes walk down to the general store for cheese and crackers out of the barrel before renting a room or wandering around the town.

Steinmeier store receipt...

Steinmeier store receipt…

Before July, I’d never heard of Millersville but through sleuthing and the friendly asking-of-questions, I’ve learned so much about the area that the next Friday Favorites article, “Memories of Millersville,” will present a more in-depth chronicling of history, family lore and wonderful photos shared from private collections.

 

Hoping the dumpster won't soon contain the bones of this venerable old general.

Hoping the dumpster won’t soon contain the bones of this venerable old general.

What I haven’t yet discovered is the fate of our old general. Queries to the company that owns the property have gone unanswered, however it seems that someone is cleaning the property. Whatever his fate, I hope it’s a good one. I’m keeping faith.

If you happen to know the owners, would you share news with us in the comment section below? 

1972 - A lawn mower shop that often sported a sign on the front door that read, "gone fishing."

1973 – The general was a lawn mower shop that often sported a sign on the front door that read, “gone fishing.”

Approximately 10 years ago, an attractive property.

Approximately 10 years ago, an attractive property.

As recently as five years ago, the store was a lovely lawn and garden store.

As recently as five years ago, our old general was a lovely lawn and garden store.

The site of the old smithy, once part of a thriving lawn and garden store. Now vacant except for a dumpster.

The site of the old smithy, once part of a thriving lawn and garden store. Now vacant except for a dumpster.

One of the mill stones was featured on the general store property just a few years back. It is no longer at that location and its fate is unknown at this time.

One of the local mill’s stones was featured on the general store property just a few years back. It is no longer at that location and like the general store, its fate is unknown at this time.

Special thanks to the “Marion County Indianapolis History” and “You Grew Up in (around) Indianapolis If… ” Facebook discussion groups who provided private collection photos, oral histories and other resources.

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Can’t get enough of Millersville? Check out these related articles:
Millersville Masons
Memories of Millersville
Millersville Millionaires: Laurel Hall
It’s a Small (After)world: Fall Creek Cemetery & Ebenezer Lutheran Church

For the Comment box:

Do you have other “Memories of Millersville” to share?

Historic Indianapolis .com chronicles and publicly shares written and oral histories that might otherwise be lost. The writers are all passionate volunteers who love what they do, often take requests, and hope to help secure a legacy for our community. If you have enjoyed this resource, please consider a financial contribution.

16 responses to “Friday Favorite: What’s In Store?”

  1. Monique says:

    I have wanted to buy it and live there, but the view of the back of the sad little strip mall was too horrible to overcome.

  2. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Lisa, The last I knew, 5422 Millersville Road was owned by Spencer Rising-Moore. Spencer’s older brother, Rick Rising-Moore, owns the Artistocrat Pub & Restaurant in Meridian-Kessler, and his sister Brenda Rising-Moore owns the Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple (which was previously owned by Rick).

  3. David says:

    I have known the area for about 20 years through work around, attending church, and commuting to work through the area. I remember shopping at the flower and garden store. That sorry strip center had a wonderful fresh fish store in it in 2000 that also prepared the fish on the restaurant side. Had many excellent lunches from there. There also use to be a Salvation Army Thrift Store where you might find a treasure for next to nothing. Always worth the time at the end of lunch. There was also a doughnut shop on 56th street that always was crowded. Sadly it is now a realtors office. The O’Mallia’s was always a shopping experience, not like today’s warehouse stores, but carpeted, with friendly staff and grocery items that are hard to find today. It is gone also. Worth trying is the pancake house just east of 56th and Emerson. I do hope the old store continues to exist and oversee the neighborhood as it has for so many years.

  4. Veronique says:

    I actually consider this particular post , “What’s in store for the General Store at Millersville, Indianapolis, Indiana? | Historic Indianapolis | All Things Indianapolis History”, incredibly pleasurable and also it was a great read. Many thanks,Carin

  5. Lisa Lorentz says:

    True. The view from three sides of the building have a lot of potential, but sadly not the FRONT.

  6. Lisa Lorentz says:

    I really enjoy the oral histories and photos from private collections — and have been blessed recently with contacts who are generous with both! Next Friday’s article will be entitled, “Memories of Millersville,” in case you are a fan of that area of Indianapolis. Thanks for reading, Veronique!

  7. Lisa Lorentz says:

    Sharon, I don’t think they own it any longer, unless they own it under a company name. Regardless, I’ll drop them a note and see if they can direct me. As always, thanks!

  8. Lisa Lorentz says:

    Thanks for the recollections, David! (And, for the tip on the pancake house 🙂 The area south of the old general indeed has come to emanate a certain “nobody cares” feeling. *sigh*

  9. Tom says:

    Well done, Lisa! I’ve driven on Millersville Road several times, but never that section north of Fall Creek. Now, I’ll have to go take a look.

    I checked the 1882-83 R. L. Polk Gazetteer for Indiana, but was surprised to find no entry for Millersville!

  10. Suzanne Stanis says:

    Here’s a link to Millersville Treasures Tour, a booklet published in 2010.
    http://millersvillefcv.com/Treasures_Tour_Booklet.html

  11. Lisa Lorentz says:

    Thanks, Suzanne! Do you know if another such tour is planned? I would really love to participate!

  12. Cynthia von Foerster says:

    Hi Lisa,
    A friend of mine forwarded a link to your post and I wanted to let you know that 5422 Millersville Road is owned by myself, Cynthia von Foerster, and Spencer Rising-Moore. We purchased the building from George and Michael Stevens and the adjacent property from Muesing Management Company. We have been renovating the property with the intent of living on the second floor with a shop for Spencer’s business on the first floor.
    Unfortunately Spencer has been diagnosed with a health issue which may result in us needing to sell the property. Hopefully this will not be the case, but the progress on the renovation may have to halt for awhile.

  13. Lisa Lorentz says:

    Cynthia, so pleased to hear from you! Please convey my best hopes and wishes for Spencer’s speedy recovery and for your plans for the property.

    Thanks for giving us all an update <3

  14. Brian Getz says:

    We recently bought the property from Cynthia von Foerster. We’re working hard to fix it up into a live/work space with our home on the top floor and a studio for our balloon business (PrettyFunnyBaloons.com) and a workshop on the ground floor. We’re trying to restore whatever period touches we can while recognizing the house is currently gutted and the siding has been (thankfully) redone.
    We’re eager to learn more about the history of the store and Millersville.
    We’re hoping to have pictures of the property through the years hung going up the stairs.
    All the best,
    Brian Getz

  15. Alicia Reuter says:

    Hi! The building has been bought again. The new owner is balloon artist Brian Getz. I’m the editor of the Millerville at Fall Creek Valley Organization online newsletter and am writing a brief article on the topic for our February edition.

  16. bruce c says:

    I lived about 3 blocks to the west in the 1960’s and well remember the neighborhood. Directly in front of that building were some old doubles that a friend of mine lived. That building at one time a gentleman used it to build fiberglass fountains. Later there was an auction house for a short while. Just to the north on 56th street was a horse stable that we used to ride by the hour. We had an old friend that told she was born the 1800’s in one of the doubles. I sure wish I had pictures of that street back then.

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