Reader’s Question:

Could you provide some history on the former warehouse at 1010 Central Avenue?  I live in one of the new apartments and am really intrigued by it.  My dad thinks at one point it was a paper mill/factory. ~ Thanks,  Alexandra Warrick, Indianapolis

HI’s Answer:  

The property at 1010 Central Avenue is enjoying a new chapter in its life.  Built to house a clothing manufacturer more than a century ago, the structure has also served as a warehouse for a drugstore chain and the sales office of a wholesale restaurant equipment company.  I could find no indication that it was ever a paper mill or a paper factory.

The building at 1010 Central Avenue now is home for luxury apartment (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

The original building at 1010 Central Avenue is now called “home” by residents of a new apartment community       (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

For readers who are not familiar with the area, the building at 1010 Central Avenue is just north of the unusual confluence of East 10th Street, Central Avenue, Fort Wayne Avenue, and North East Street, all of which wrap around a small landscaped triangle.  The subject property is located on the eastern boundary of the St. Joseph Historic District and is across the street from the western boundary of the Chatham Arch Neighborhood.

The three-story brick building at 1010 Central Avenue is immediately north of where Central Avenue curves into East Street (map courtesy of bing)

The 3-story brick building at 1010 Central Avenue is immediately north of where Central curves into East Street (map courtesy of bing)

Built in 1909 to house the growing Lewis Meier & Company, the three-story brick building that survives today was actually the second commercial building to occupy the site.  The original building on that site dated to the 1870s.  Meier had started out in a building on Fort Wayne Avenue, but later moved the business to the northwest corner of St. Mary Street (now 10th Street) and Central Avenue.

(scan courtesy of www.newspapers.com)

Lewis Meier & Co. first appeared in this location in the 1891 edition of the R. L. Polk Indianapolis City Directory.  At that time — which was before Indianapolis’s street addresses were renumbered more consistently — the building was listed as 2 – 4 Central Avenue.  The older building also housed a Masonic Lodge on the top floor.

1891 City Director was the first year Lewis Meier and Company was listed (image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

1891 City Directory was the first year Lewis Meier & Company was listed   CLICK TO ENLARGE

After irregular addresses outside Indianapolis’s Mile Square were renumbered at the end of the 19th century, the building then bore the addresses of 1002 – 1008 Central Avenue, as well as 406 – 410 East 10th Street.

1898 Sanborn map #195 indicates the building was known as 1002 - 1008 Central Avenue in its early years (map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Library)

Sanborn map #195 indicates the building was known as 1002-1008 Central Avenue and 406-410 East 10th Street      (map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Library)                              CLICK TO ENLARGE

In 1909, Lewis Meier & Co. built a new building on the northwest corner of 10th and Central. Designed by the architectural firm of Vonnegut & Bohn, it too was a three-story brick structure but was much larger.  The present building was home to the Lewis Meier & Company for nearly seven decades.

Lewis Meier (1841-1901) was born in Germany.  He immigrated to the United States at age 18 and was living in Indianapolis by 1861.  Meier conceived of a clothing business that catered to tall, lanky men returning from the Civil War.  By 1864, he was established as a retail clothier along with business partner, August William Buschmann (1824-1893).  In later years, William Buschmann’s sons, Louis F. Buschmann (1863-1898) and Charles L. Buschmann (1867-1964) also joined the company.

In the beginning, the company made some of the clothing it sold but also marketed garments made by other suppliers.  In the 1860s, Lewis Meier’s retail operation was located on the southeast side of the 900 block of Fort Wayne Avenue, where the Richard G. Lugar Tower Apartments stand today.  In the 1880s, Lewis Meier and Company moved to the northwest side of the 900 block of Fort Wayne Avenue.  The northwest side of the street between New Jersey Street and Central Avenue was known as the Buschmann Block.  The building in which Lewis Meier & Company had its storefront in the 1880s is still standing today.

Prior to building 1010 Central Avenue, Lewis Meier and Company operated a store in the Buschmann Block, which was immediately southwest of it (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

Lewis Meier & Company operated a store in the Buschmann Block on Fort Wayne Ave prior to building 1010 Central Ave     (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

As Lewis Meier was a tailor, he made an increasing number of the company’s products as the years went by.   The firm’s apparel included overalls, shirts, pants, and jackets designed for the working man.  By 1886, the company was manufacturing all of its own products, and it was clear they would need larger quarters for their growing business.

1909 Advertisement for the Auto-Brand

1909 Advertisement for the    popular Auto-Brand Overalls  CLICK TO ENLARGE

Lewis Meier married Caroline Fink (1848-1916) in 1868.  They had six children, four of whom lived to adulthood.  The family lived directly across the street from Lewis Meier and Company in a two-and-a-half-story single-family home at 1009 Central Avenue.  It no longer exists and has been replaced by a newer two-family residence.

Unfortunately, Lewis Meier contracted pneumonia and died in 1901.  Henry Severin Jr. (1870-1922) bought Lewis Meier’s share of the business and helped run the company until his passing in 1922.  Severin was the person who built the Severin Hotel, now known as the Omni Severin Hotel.  Charles L. Buschmann named one of his sons Charles Severin Buschman, in honor of his friend and business partner.

(1922 Indianapolis Star article courtesy of newspapers.com)

(January 9, 1922 Indianapolis Star )  CLICK TO ENLARGE

After the passing of Henry Severin, Lewis Meier & Co. was entirely owned and operated by the Buschmann family.

1951 IndyStar article about the Buschmann family's involvement in Lewis Meier and Company (scan courtesy of Indiana State Library)

1951 IndyStar article about the Buschmann family’s involvement in Lewis Meier and Company 

Although eventually owned exclusively by the Buschmanns, the family did not change the company’s name, since it had been established decades before.

1955 Indianapolis Star article discusses Charles Louis Buschmann's career with Lewis Meier and Company (scan courtesy of Indiana State Library)

1955 Indianapolis Star newspaper article discusses Charles Louis Buschmann’s long career with Lewis Meier and Company 

Lewis Meier & Company ceased operations about 1956 or 1957.  Members of the Meier, Buschmann, and Severin families, as well as the Fink, Hofman, Reiffel, and Seidensticker families (to which the partners were married), are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Auto-Brand phlange sign advertising its most popular products

Auto-Brand phlange sign advertising Lewis Meier & Company’s most popular products  CLICK TO ENLARGE

Following the closure of Lewis Meier & Company, a group called Indiana Merchandise, seller of wholesale notions, occupied the building from about 1957 to 1962.  The building was listed as vacant in the 1963 and 1964 city directories.

From 1965 to 1980, the Haag Drug Company used the building as a warehouse.  Haag was a retail drugstore that was founded in Indianapolis by brothers Louis and Julius Haag in 1876, which eventually became a national chain.  “Haag’s” was purchased by Peoples Drug Stores of Virginia, which was eventually purchased by CVS of Rhode Island.

From 1982 until 2005, Central Restaurant Equipment occupied the building.  The locally owned business moved to 7750 Georgetown Road in 2005 and was sold in 2009.

In 2011, local attorney and developer Joe Whitsett purchased the property from ADLI Development LLC, who were the former owners of Central Restaurant Equipment.  The Whitsett Group (TWG Development, LLC) converted the property into the 1010 Central Apartments, which includes a new building adjacent to the 1890 building.  The complex has 86 units.

 

If you have a question about Indianapolis history, please send it to historicindianapolis (at) yahoo (dot) com, with “HI Mailbag” in the subject line, and I will do my best to answer it.  ~ Sharon