Someone told me that the Kroger at 16th and Central was the first Kroger store in Indianapolis. Is that true? LOL. ~ Lynn Molzan, Old Northside
I assume you are referring to the Kroger store at 524 East 16th Street. By its legal description, that store is actually on the northwest corner of East 16th Street and Park Avenue. The grocery opened on November 7, 1962. It was not the first Kroger store in Indianapolis.
The Kroger Grocery and Baking Company opened its first stores in Indianapolis in April of 1924, which was more than thirty-eight years prior to the opening of the store at 16th and Park. Kroger’s entry into the Indianapolis market was the result of the decision by founder Bernard Henry Kroger (1860-1938) to expand his Cincinnati-based company into other markets. Being adjacent to Ohio, Indiana was a logical choice for expansion.
Interestingly, no single location was Kroger’s first store in Indianapolis. Due to Kroger’s acquisition of an already existing chain of stores, Kroger was able to enter the Indianapolis market with 72 neighborhood groceries simultaneously becoming Kroger stores. The numerous locations of the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company have been listed in Indianapolis City Directories since 1925.
Since 1925, Kroger Grocery and Baking Company stores have been listed in the Indianapolis City Directories, as illustrated below.
The Childs Grocery Store chain was owned by David Parrington Childs (1876-1937). The Philadelphia-born businessman had previously had experience in such an enterprise. Childs and his older half-brother, Samuel Canning Childs (1859-1932), had been partners in a Childs Grocery Store chain in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. The Childses had grown their company to 268 stores, which they sold in 1917 to the American Stores Company, which included the ACME Tea Company. Canning Childs, who was fifteen years older than David Childs, took his share of the proceeds and retired. David Childs, who was only 40 years old at the time, wanted to reinvest his money in another similar venture. There was a non-compete clause in their sale to ACME, so David Childs had to leave his home in the east and go to another part of the country to start up another grocery business. He chose Indianapolis.
David Childs moved to Indianapolis about 1919. The family’s first home was at 624 West Drive in Woodruff Place. Within a year, Childs built a new home at 3068 Fall Creek Boulevard East (now called Fall Creek Parkway North Drive). There Childs and his family lived for only four or five years. After selling the Childs Grocery Stores to Kroger, David Childs returned to New Jersey, where he and many other relatives had resided prior to his moving to Indianapolis.
However, David Childs did retain ties to Indianapolis. His oldest son, Canning Rogers Childs, Sr. (1906-1982), returned to Indianapolis in 1934 to marry his former Fall Creek Boulevard neighbor and childhood sweetheart, Catherine Frances Jose (1910-1969). Members of the Jose family were developers of several Indianapolis neighborhoods. Canning and Catherine (Jose) Childs resided in Indianapolis for the rest of their lives, raising their children at 3771 Watson Road, near the homes on Fall Creek where they had first met as children. Canning and Catherine’s descendants now reside in other states.
Regarding the site of the Kroger store at 534 E. 16th Street, that property was formerly the location of a wonderful single-family residence until just a short time before the supermarket was built in 1962. As the house was built facing east, it had a Park Avenue address, rather than the 16th Street address of the Kroger store. In the first year or two of the 1900s, George and Cornelia (Schirmer) Alig built a home on that site. George Johann Alig, Sr. (1852-1941), was born in Switzerland and came to the United States in 1871. He owned the Home Stove Co. The Aligs resided at 1608 Park Avenue for nearly half a century. After the Aligs’ deaths, and before the Kroger store was built in 1962, the erstwhile home was used as a VFW Post for a few years.
As a recently retired Kroger employee, I find this highly interesting!
I am also retired from Kroger in 2010 with 36 years. The 1st Kroger store i remember was at michigan street and homles ave. I did not the 1st store was at 16th and park. Is it still there
The Kroger Grand Opening ad is great! Did anyone notice that Frances Farmer was appearing at the opening? At this time the former famous actress (whose life story was the movie “Frances”) was living in Indianapolis, where she was a local movie host on Channel 6.
How well I remember “Frances Farmer Presents” on WFBM Channel 6. It aired late in the afternoon, just after I got home from school. It’s where I first saw many of the movies that are now considered to be classics. I also remember seeing her driving her Ford Edsel around the north side.
See other Historic Indianapolis articles regarding early Kroger Stores
http://historicindianapolis.com/then-and-now-george-alig-sr-house-1608-park-ave/ Another article which includes the 16th and Park store
thanks, Kevin! I like the one at Linwood Square, which has old east side and “Arsenal” photos around the store indicating an appreciation for the local market area…the McDonalds at Bosart (I think it’s Bosart) used to have old Irvington photos on their walls, but I understand they were given to the Indiana Historical Society. Now that place just has that damn generic crap most McDonalds have (photos of old stores without even a date or location on the photo). Liked the older Kroger on 10th across from Woodruff Place where Stoughton Fletcher’s Clifford Place estate was around 1899; miss that Kroger, but the one at Linwood Square is good for the neighborhood.
When I was a child, the Linwood Square Kroger’s was “our store”, especially after they closed the Standard Grocery Store in the southeast corner of Tenth and Bosart where the McDonald’s you spoke of now stands.
Before Linwood Square was built (sometime before 1965), this was the location of Newburg (sp?) Field where we loved to play. In the southwest corner was a shabby Antiques store (which needed a coat of paint) that had chickens in its side yard on the west side. In the middle of what is now Linwood Square on the south side of Tenth Street, was a Fruit and Vegetable stand.
I don’t remember this, but before the Kroger’s was built in Linwood Square, there was a Kroger’s at Tenth and Drexel http://historicindianapolis.com/then-and-now-kroger-store-double-8-foods/ which is now a Shirley Brothers Funeral Home http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=539803979386877&set=a.188286797871932.45710.100000718393924&type=3&theater
Above, the phrase “southwest corner was a shabby Antiques store” should have been “southwest corner of Tenth and Linwood was a shabby Antiques store”.
I didn’t know that the Linwood Square Kroger’s had old east side and “Arsenal” photos around the store. Of course, I’ve been away a long time.
Most of them are in the “front end” there…
Sharon — another interesting set of facts that remind me that my last year in college we [three of us in one large room] put a sign on the door of the room: “Department of Little Known Facts about Little Known People that Few People Give a Damn About Anyway” — and I feel from time to time as though continuing that tradition is one of the things that keeps me alive at age 78 — the age the current pope was when he became pope.
SO, can I count on that many more good years?
Seriously, it is time for us to have lunch and you can decide if there is anything left in my head that you can use.
I believe the Aligs were also connected to Indiana National Bank, possibly as investors. The grandson of George and Cornelia, Cornelius (Neil) Alig was an employee of INB. He frequently cam to Washington while I was on the staff of Congressman Andy Jacobs. I think that Aligs were also connected to the Mansur family who were the owners of the Hume-Mansur Building that was located where the Chase Tower is now. When it comes to turn of the century Indianapolis, the thigh bone is almost always connected to the knee bone, and they were all connected to the Dramatic Club. Well, most well to do white Christians anyway.
You are correct about the inter-connectedness of early Indianapolis families. When I am responding to the “HI Mailbag” questions, I always have to restrain myself from getting off on tangents explaining the relationships of people in the article. Many of the individuals involved in the development of Indianapolis were (are) related — if not by blood, then by marriage — to other individuals who were (are) also instrumental in the city’s early growth. You’ve already mentioned the Aligs, who appear in this article, so I’ll mention another name in this article as a further example, Catherine Frances Jose Childs. The Joses were (are) related to the Balz, Rhodehamel, Lacy, and Hottel families, among others.
During my first term in the State Senate, I served with a lawyer from Bloomington, Pat Carroll. His wife, Carol, is a Rhodehamel. Again, when I was on Andy Jacobs’ staff, I met a fellow who was from Indianapolis who had gone to law school with Andy, Frank Jose. I believe he was a career employee at the Department of Justice. It has been nearly 40 years but I think Frank Jose was somehow related to the Evans Milling folks.
Frank Aldrich Jose is Catherine Frances (Jose) Childs’ cousin, although she was one generation “removed” from Frank (Catherine was Frank’s father’s first cousin). Frank grew up in the Watson Road area, not far from the Jose and Balz homes on Fall Creek Parkway. Besides going to law school together, Andy and Frank would also have been at Shortridge High School at the same time — Frank in the SHS Class of ’48 and Andy in the SHS Class of ’49. As their surnames both begin with “J,” they were probably in the same homeroom and had the same faculty advisor. I believe Frank Jose is still living outside Washington, D.C. in Maryland. He would be about 83 years old now. I don’t know about Frank Jose’s connection to the Evans Milling Company.
You’ll be interested to know that the Joses started out on the south side of Indianapolis, just off Pleasant Run Parkway. The immigrant patriarch was Nicholas Jose (1827-1897). He and his wife Joanna Brauchle Jose (1840-1920) had nine children. Each time a child grew up and married, Nicholas built the newlyweds a home on a portion of his land. Eventually, there were nine or more Jose-related homes on the same street. They were in the 1700 and 1800 blocks of E. Orange Street. Many (maybe all?) of them are still standng today.
I’ll check out the Jose homes on Orange. As I think about it Frank and Andy may have had a classmate at Shortridge who was an Evans. When I knew him, Frank Jose was a very amusing fellow.
You are amazing!
Sharon, since you’ve mentioned these names, do you know if Edna Balz Lacy, the business woman, was the daughter of Arcada Stark Balz, the first woman elected to the Indiana State Senate (1941)?
Canning Childs and his wife Catherine are buried on the Jose lot near the north end of Section 45 in Crown Hill.
BTW, some sources say that one of the first places Dillinger robbed after getting out of prison in 1933 was a Kroger store not really all that far from where he would be buried just over a year later. I believe it was one of the ones on Central or College, but I’m not home where my books are right now to look up exactly which one.
I also found in one of the City Directories from the 1930s that my great-uncle Floyd Davis owned (briefly I’m sure) a grocery store near 30th and Clifton where apparently Kroger also had a store. Maybe that’s why he ended up moving back to Kentucky, and in his later years looking like a spittin’ image of Col. Harland Sanders.
Arcada (Stark) Balz (1879-1973) was not the mother of Edna Jose (Balz) Lacy. Arcada’s family was from around Beanblossom, Indiana. Arcada was the wife of Frederick G. Balz (1875-1954), who was Edna’s uncle (her father Peter’s brother).
The mother of Edna Jose (Balz) Lacy (1906-1991) was Lydia (Jose) Balz (1872-1968). Edna’s siblings were Helen Johanna (Balz) Moore, Norma Lydia (Balz) Dunlop, and Josephine (Balz) Mercereau. The Joses and Balzes built many houses in Indianapolis. Several legal descriptions around town have the name Jose, the name Balz, or both names, in them.
I’ll take a look at the list of Kroger stores that appeared in the 1933 and 1934 city directories, to see which one was closest to Crown Hlil Cemetery. I’ll let you know which one seems to be the most likely candidate for Dillinger’s robbery. There was probably a newspaper article about the event, which we can find if we can narrow down the time frame.
That robbery story will be interesting…maybe there was a Kroger around Mapleton, or 34th and Illinois, or one of those business districts…
Thanks Tom. My mother’s parents lived on a farm about a mile north of Hortonville [between Westfield and Sheridan in Hamilton County]. Some time in the 1930’s, his car was stolen, but found after a short period in a ditch near either Jolietville or Eagletown, which might have been the direction of someone trying to get to Indy. The speculation was always that it was Dillnger, but who knows what Dillinger actually did and what others did and folks blamed Dillinger.
This is for Kevin brewer: Remember the farm fields (and Little League fields south of there) along 10th Street and the farmer’s produce stand on 10th, across from the Emerson Theater. I believe this spelling isn’t perfect, but I think the two small farms there where Krogers is now (think there was an Ayr Way there, or a similar store similar to KMart there first) was spelled “Neuerberg”, or something like that. Originally there were brick kilns in the southern part of their farms, and there was a horse barn on the northeast corner of the farm (about where Payless Shoes is now). Of course this is all “vague” now, with age!
Now that you mention it, I do remember the Little League fields more to the south. As I said above, on the south side of Tenth Street in the middle between Linwood and Colorado (the middle of what is now Linwood Square), was a Fruit and Vegetable stand (as you said a “farmer’s produce stand”). The Emerson Theater was/is in the northwest corner of Tenth and Bosart. The produce stand was not directly across from the Emerson Theater. The theater was 2 blocks east of the eastern side (Linwood Ave.) of Neuerberg (sp?) Field.
The store similar to Ayr-Way or K-Mart across the south end of the parking lot was Zayre Dept. store which later became Ames Dept. store (I believe).
I remember the horse barn, but I don’t remember brick kilns you speak of. Of course, how many years ago are we speaking of.
Come to think of it, Kevin, the brick kilns were on an old city map of the area that showed property owners’ names and prominent features in Marion County (where I got the owners’ names I misspelled) and the brick kilns were shown on the map by name. It also showed the Rupp family farmland around 10th and Emerson (further east) that ran north to 16th Street, and some of the Askren family farmland due north of Irvington. These maps were in a reference area of the downtown Indianapolis library (prior to the renovation there; have no clue where they’d be at there today) and were dated around the 1880-1890 era. The built-up area(s) of Indianapolis were too congested to show owner names and boundaries, but the less developed areas (at that time about east of Sherman Drive and/or Rural Streets) still depicted farmland beyond the urbanized area(s). Northward, the Mapleton area was on the edge of the built up area, and the Haughey home place was where Tarkington Park is now; back east, there was a subdivision called Stratford south of Washington Street (also named the National Road) with a trolley line called the “Indianapolis-Stratford-Irvington Railroad”, with the developers named Kealing with the Kealing farm around Stratford. Irvington was still essentially separate from Indianapolis and Emerson was called “National Avenue”. the Wallace and Bosart farms were along the alignment of those streets today, between “the National Road” and “Clifford Avenue” (10th). Would love to look at those maps now! Speaking of brick kilns, the Downey family had some brick kilns around Rural and Michigan and the area was called “brick town”…they later closed that business and invested in the new Irvington area further east as they subdivided their land around Michigan and Rural. Would love to look at those maps now!
Sharon, Once I get home later today, I can find the address of the Kroger store in question in one of the too many books I have about JD. I’ll let you know sometime this evening.
Thanks so much for the info about Edna Lacy. As you may know, there is a portrait of Mrs. Lacy in the Crown Hill Funeral Home.
According to Dary Matera in his book on Dillinger (p. 48) Dillinger was part of a gang that robbed a Kroger Store at 3512 North College in late May/early June 1933. Elliot Gorn, in his more scholarly book “Dillinger’s Wild Ride” says that Matera was “sometimes too trustiing” of his sources. (p. 211) So it’s anybody’s guess about whether he really robbed that store or not.
As far as my family and their grocery stores, according to city directories: Floyd Davis in 1938 @ 1101 West 27th, Chester Davis (my grandfather) in 1942 at 1441 Cornell Avenue, and Floyd at 401 W. 29th. and in 1945 Floyd at 1661 Martindale. By 1947 they’d all left town until I moved here in 1982 in my late 20s.
I know the building at 3512 N. College Avenue! Well, I guess I should say “I KNEW the building at 3512 N. College Avenue.” It no longer exists. When I was growing up on Ruckle Street (three blocks west), there was a two-story, brick, mixed-use building on the northwest corner of Fairfield and College Avenues. The Kroger store that John Dillinger may have robbed in 1933 was no longer there two decades later, but I can still remember some of the businesses that were there in the ’50s and ’60s. On the Fairfield side were a Sara Lee Bakery outlet, the Hoosier Lawn Mower Co., the Coll-Fair Grill, a shoe repair shop, and the Aristocrat Pub (which is now at 52nd and College). On the College side of the building were Fairfield Florists, Nick Kerz Department Store, and Tuchman Cleaners. Today that corner is a vacant lot. However, you can still see vestiges of its past life. The “tree lawn” between the curbs and the pedestrian sidewalks remain, and perpendicular to them are strips of sidewalks that once led to each of the storefronts: http://binged.it/14QUgKr .
Not long before the College Avenue streetcar line that ran to the State Fairgrounds was discontinued and the East Tenth trackless trolley line was discontinued, our family rode the East Tenth Street trackless trolley downtown from Emerson Avenue and transferred to the College Avenue line for visiting the State Fair. i was in grade school then ,and my sister Peggy (later the first Tech alum to become Principal of Arsenal Technical high School) was just finishing being a toddler. I do remember either going up Fairfield or near there on the trolley and seeing many very busy neighborhood businesses in the vicinity of College and Fairfield and commenting to my Mom that the area looked “nice” and she said it was one of the “nicer” areas of the city (being East Siders, we always felt the “North Side” was always better!). In fact, the area looked quite congested with thick sidewalk traffic as well as autos trying to park all over the place. This dates me, i will admit!
In that group of buildings on the northwest corner of College and Fairfield, there was an excellent restaurant as late as some time in the 1960’s. The woman who ran it was the wife of an IPD officer, I believe. After a few years she turned it over to another woman whose name I should know and can not remember. After that restaurant closed the second woman went to work at what is now the Aristocrat. have not seen her for many years. Sorry to be so vague.
The first woman had established a place where she or a cook baked their own bread — made for wonderful sandwiches.
I mentioned the stores at Fairfield and College that I could remember in my reply to Tom Davis (a couple of comments above). The restaurant you are trying to remember just about had to have been the Coll-Fair Grill. It and the Aristocrat were the only businesses that served food in the building’s final years (that I can remember). The original owner of the Coll-Fair was named Edith Martin, but I don’t know who took it over from her.
Thanks, Sharon. Coll-Fair sounds right. I could not have come up with Edith Martin, no matter how much time you gave me. The face of her successor is cemented in my mind, but no name.
If one looks at College for an address of 3512 N., about the only place it could have been would have been at the corner with Fairfield.
See my reply to Tom Davis, a few comments above, where I identified the location as Fairfield and College. I listed the stores that I could remember as having been in that building. I also provided a hyperlink to show a map of the corner.
At the time I wrote this 2013 article, I did not have a subscription to newspapers.com, which I do now. This morning, I did some searching for the supposed robbery at Fairfield and College. I tried a variety of key words in May, June, and July of 1933, and I could find no mention of the Kroger store at Fairfield and College having been robbed. There were other Kroger robberies in other parts of town, but in all cases, either the robbers were caught or they were well-described by the store employees. John Dillinger was not mentioned in any of those reports.
Do you have any history on the house on the S-W Corner of 75th & College?
I do know a little of the history of the house at 7466 N. College Avenue, as my family’s real estate company, CENTURY 21 Bulger, toured the property when the current owners bought it about thirty years ago. To respect their privacy, I should probably check with the current owners first before revealing their names. As the previous owners are no longer living, I suppose it’s okay to say who they were. The owners from about 1938 until about 1983 were the family of William W. Peet (1887-1972) and Irene (Burkhart) Peet (1890-1982). The couple had two children, a daughter and a son. William was a dentist. His son and his grandson also became dentists. My guess is that the home is around one-hundred years old, possibly more than that. Unfortunately, I only know who the last two owners were. I would need to do some research to find out who built the residence and/or who owned the land prior to there being a structure on it.
When I attended the Moravian Church at 54th and Haverford in the 1980’s, one of the old-timers there told me the building on the SW Corner of 54th and College was a grocery around late 40’s / early 50’s and I think she told me it was a Kroger Store, but I am not certain. The building has sort of a dome on it, almost looks like a small planetarium design. It is Moe and Johnny’s now, and a Cornerstone Cafe off to the side.
Fascinated by the history of Kroger in Indianapolis…
Yes, Moe & Johnny’s does reside in the Kroger spot. Kroger hopscotched up College Avenue over the years, from 42nd Street to two locations at 46th, both the northeast and southeast corners, then 54th, and on to Broad Ripple (still existing) and back to 38th (now a Dollar Store).
As a side note, the Wm. F. Krieg (of Krieg Bros) mentioned on the 1925 City Directory page above is my grandfather. 🙂
Before there was a Kroger on the southwest corner of 54th and College, there was a Kroger on the southeast corner of that intersection. Today, that address (5375 N. College Avenue) is the southernmost portion of The Jazz Cooker, about in the middle of the building.
There were two Kroger stores in Broad Ripple for many years. There was a Kroger at 6311 Bellefontaine (now Guilford) Avenue, which today is Bleecker Street. There was also a Kroger at 5906 N. College Avenue, which today is the northern portion of Binkley’s Bar & Grill.
Back in the 1920s and 1930s, when many of the mixed-use buildings were erected on prominent street corners, the “anchor” stores in those multi-use buildings were usually the drugstores. They typically occupied the corner spaces in the buildings, with entrances easily accessed from both of the intersecting streets. The grocery stores were less prominent than the drugstores and typically occupied the secondary storefronts, away from the corners.
Sharon, I am a friend of Canning Rogers Childs, Jr. and he told me the story of the Childs grocery stores being sold to Kroger and how his parents met as neighbors living on Fall Creek Parkway. I think it’s an interesting part of the history of Indianapolis, and you have it recorded very well.
Thank you, Richard. I too was fascinated by the fact that Kroger entered the Indianapolis market by buying a sizable chain of already existing grocery stores. I was also interested to learn that the Childs family lived on Watson Road, as I grew up nearby on Ruckle Street.
I really love Historic Indianapolis and the wonderful articles you have! One portion that really stood out was the news ad showing bacon for 39 cents a pound. LOL! My, how the times changed!
I think it’s hilarious that the ad for the grand opening of the 16th and Park store includes the line “Your big new Kroger wonderland of food.” It’s probably the smallest Kroger location in Indianapolis, if not anywhere.
I could be wrong, but I’m thinking the Kroger at 6220 Guilford Avenue in Broad Ripple Village is even smaller. It was built a decade-or-so earlier than the Kroger at 16th and Park Avenue.
At the time, it was probably one of the bigger Kroger stores around though … the newer upscale Kroger stores today are HUGE compared to this vintage Kroger …
Can you tell me anything about Kerz (?) Cafeteria that was on College Ave just south of 54th St. I remember going there in the 1950s.
I’m working at Kroger as a Grocery bagger.