For those of us who love old buildings and old neighborhoods, it’s hard to pass up a home tour in one of Indy’s historic neighborhoods. Especially for this year’s Herron-Morton Place Home tour, taking place today between 12-6pm (tickets available at the neighborhood park between 19th & 20th on Alabama Street or here), this is a companion piece. You’ll need a smart phone or ipad or some other such technological device to carry these along with you for comparison.

When you journey through any historic neighborhood, don’t you ponder what it looked like before? For those of you who don’t or can’t make it–you’ll just have to make it a point to pull up this article the next time you’re passing through the area. Here’s a visual sampling of some of the evolution of Herron-Morton Place (16th to 22nd and Central to Pennsylvania Streets). This is meant to be a continuous meandering starting at…

  • 16th & New Jersey, north to 22nd
  • west to Alabama & south to 16th
  • west to Delaware & north to 22nd
  • west to Pennsylvania & south

…and what a beautiful day for it.

Starting on New Jersey Street at 16th, there is currently a little commercial building on the northeast corner. Immediately north of that parcel, check out a couple homes that used to stand where the vacant lots are:

1603 N. New Jersey, From Peat Collection, Indiana Landmarks

Courtesy George Mitchell

East side of 1600 block of New Jersey

This home, featured on today’s tour used to stand alongside those former homes, one of four historic homes left on that side of that block:

You’ll notice a proliferation of new construction and thoroughly modern design in the northern half of the 1600 block of New Jersey on both sides. At 17th Street, there have been marked changes in the past few years–see if you notice anything different:

Just north of the 1700 block, you will notice more change:

Before the renovations on this one, it looked much like the one immediately south of it. But now:

Skipping ahead up to 19th Street, you’ll notice an esplanade–a grassy strip down the middle of the street–one of the most notable features of  the original Morton Place. Morton Place included Delaware, Alabama and New Jersey Streets between 19th and 22nd Streets. The neighborhood was formed atop the former State Fairgrounds site. 19th Street was Exposition Avenue and the area was considered quite a jaunt on the outskirts of town. New Jersey Street is the only of the three streets to have retained its esplanades.

Check out this view from 100+ years ago looking north on New Jersey from 20th Street:

Continuing up the 2000 block, discover for yourself how a few years can change a home. Look for these two:

Many neighbors have watched this one with interest, awaiting its complete restoration and occupation…

Southeast corner 21st & New Jersey, circa 2006

In the 2100 block, there are a few historic homes and some empty lots that once had homes. One home that still stands: …as it looked in the late 1910’s:

I’m sure one of our car experts can date this picture by the car.

Wonder what used to be on one of these empty lots?

Here’s one house that stood in this vicinity, advertised in 1906 for $5500.

On the other side of the street, a home still stands that was featured in the newspaper in 1905:

“first story is of cement and the second of shingles”

The home was designed for E. G. Goth by W. A. Staples (who also designed the house at 412 East 21st Street) and cost $6,000.  You can see a number of things have changed–what alterations stand out most to you?

Continuing over to Alabama Street, more empty lots tempt the imagination and curiosity:

West Side of 2100 block of Alabama, circa 2008

A home that used to sit in that stretch of 2100 block of Alabama St.

This was undoubtedly razed in the 1960’s, but it debuted on the west side of the street, 3 lots south of 22nd on Alabama in August 1905. It cost $8000 to build and was designed by George V. Bedell for Samuel V. Perrott.

Onto the new home on the home tour, there is a home with an adjoining lot on its south side.

It seems this evidently massive home used to stand on that south lot. The picture is not clear, but that silhouette says plenty, wouldn’t you say?

Indianapolis Star, April 1905 (*house numbers changed in 1911)

On the southwest corner of 21st and Alabama, there is a home awaiting rescue and rehabilitation–

but from 1914-1917, this served as the newlywed home of Clemens and Zuleme Mueller:

Mr. & Mrs. Clemens Mueller (collection of J. Bailey)

Zuleme Mueller (collection J. Bailey)

Doubtful the interior looks this good, but wonderful to see what a 1914 interior looked like. (collection J. Bailey)

Real estate prices over the years are another fascinating part of our city’s history. This one is from July 1929 advert for 2042 N. Alabama:

Neighbors know in retrospect that the 1920’s was the era in which many of the large homes were carved up as the former owners left these behind for new homes a couple miles north.

Luckily, this one is still in place, and looking beautiful:

Observe the changes in this home at 2055 N. Alabama Street:

In 2012

Indianapolis Star, May 1905

 But for the classifieds over the years, we would have missed many glimpses of older homes. The above, another Indianapolis Star advert from May 1905 for what was 2033 N. Alabama before 1911 and 2055 N. Alabama after 1911.

Down a block, this view is from the Fourth Presbyterian Church that used to stand on the northeast corner of 19th and Alabama:

View from 4th Presbyterian, Courtesy George Mitchell

The east side of the street had 6 homes and the church (with only 2 open lots) by 1898, so finding zero remaining structure of the era left in 2012 is disappointing. This church was replaced by apartments, presumably constructed in approximately 1950. (The apartment complex’s mirror image building stands on the northwest corner of 19th and Delaware and was built in 1950.)

Former Northeast corner of 19th & Alabama Streets – Courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Collectioni #95492F

Further south on Alabama, do you recognize the difference in the Neuville Apartments? Northwest corner of 17th and Alabama Streets.

At the corner of 16th and Delaware, the prominently placed Walsingham was renovated in the last five or so years, making a more welcome entry point to Herron-Morton Place and with great views of two lovely historic churches.

What do you think of the 1930 view versus today?

You’ll pass the former home of Henry C. Thornton on your way to the next home tour stop, but check out what a transformation its gone through in the past 10 years…

circa 2004

circa 2006

Former Thornton Home, In 2012

In the 1900 block, see if you recognize the structure that remains and the one that doesn’t. The one that doesn’t belonged to William H. Block, of department store fame.

You’ll hardly believe the changes made to the large home on the northwest corner of 20th and Delaware Streets:

Got any thoughts on the changes to this home on the east side of the street in the 2000 block? This one was designed by well known local architect of 100 years ago, Herbert Foltz.

And up in the 2100 block, east side of the street, see how different these two parcels look now.

Courtesy Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC)

The last stop on the tour (from these directions, anyway) is in the 2100 block of Pennsylvania Street. In the past decade or so, this area has been greatly filled in. These infill apartments cover a generous portion of this side of the block, but previously held historic homes like the rest of the neighborhood.

(Looking west)

Homes that formerly stood where the stretch of condos now stand. Note the apartment building in the background. (Indiana Landmarks, Peat Collection)

One of the heart-breaking results of commercializing Meridian Street so heavily, was the loss of the beautiful mansions that used to line the west side of Pennsylvania Street. With very few exceptions, most were leveled to serve as parking for the commercial buildings of Meridian. Lengthy stretches of this (except with lots more asphalt):

Instead of this:

Indiana Landmarks, Peat Collection

And guess what? These were still standing into the 1960’s. The 60’s may have been an age of free love, but sadly for this area (as with much of the historic areas of Indianapolis) it was a rampant age of destruction.

Herron-Morton Place has made great strides yet still has a few opportunities. The past 10 years has seen such progress. Stay tuned for the next 10…

4 responses to “Herron-Morton Walking tour, 2012”

  1. Michelle says:

    Love looking at these historic homes. My grandparents lived in the 1800 block of Delaware, so some of these place look familiar. It is so nice to see some refurbisment going on there. My grandparents sold their house back in the 1970’s for $8000 and left all of the furnishings. I wish I had been older then and could have taken some of them.

  2. Bill says:

    So what happened? Two things. Older generations passed away, and descendants turned many of the homes into rentals, carving them up – and eventually, not caring one bit for the properties as they deteriorated. Then, in the 1965-68 period came a program called “Model Cities,” and federal funding was provided to tear down old inner-city homes, under the guise that a vacant lot was better than a run-down piece of property. By the early 1970s, the Old Northside, Herron-Morton, and other areas on the near northside resembled today’s inner-city Detroit. Thank heavens we recognized the value of old buildings, albeit 20+ years too late.

  3. Tom Davis says:

    Thanks for the picture of the Muellers. I love seeing photos of those whom we would otherwise only know from names on a monument. Clemons apparently lived until 1964 and Zoleme until 1976. They are buried in Section 13 Lot 4 of Crown Hill which means they are just a little east of Carl Fisher and Eli Lilly

  4. basil berchekas jr says:

    This is a FASCINATING look back into this neighborhood’s history! Would love to see more “before and after” photos! Wish I had some to contribute!

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