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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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