Reader’s Question:

The columns at the City Market have the name “Hetherington & Berner” imprinted on them.  Did that company help build the facility?  What is their story? ~ John R., Indianapolis

HI’s Answer:

In the early years of its operation, the Indianapolis City Market provided only simple market stalls for its vendors.  In 1886, the architectural firm of D. A. Bohlen & Son designed a larger, sturdier, much more impressive brick building with stone trim for the city’s main public market.  Among the companies that collaborated on the construction of the new facility was the iron foundry of Hetherington & Berner.

Indianapolis' iconic City Market as it appeared in spring of 1924, thirty-eight years after it was constructed (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

The iconic Indianapolis City Market as it appeared in the summer of 1924, thirty-eight years after it was first constructed    (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)       CLICK TO ENLARGE

The interior of the Indianapolis City Market was supported by a system of both cast iron and wrought iron columns and trusses, which were fabricated by Hetherington & Berner.   At least two dozen of the cast iron poles that support the structure’s framework are embossed with the name of the manufacturer.

More than two dozen iron poles support the interior framework of the City Market (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

More than two dozen poles with the name Hetherington & Berner on them support the interior framework of the City Market (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)       CLICK TO ENLARGE

Benjamin Franklin Hetherington (1828-1906) was born in Carlisle, Cumberland County, England.  His grandfather was a member of the British parliament.  His father died when Benjamin was twelve years old.  A year later, his mother moved the family to the United States and settled in Massachusetts.  When he was nineteen, Hetherington apprenticed himself to a machinist in Cincinnati.  When his co-workers went on strike a couple of years later, he did not wish to participate, and Hetherington moved to Indianapolis.  He was employed by several local foundries, as well as the Indianapolis, Cincinnati, & Louisville Railroad (IC&LRR), before finally opening his own shop in 1866.  Hetherington was active in Republican politics, Knights of Honor, and the Indianapolis Board of Trade.  At the time of his death, his residence was at 2032 North Alabama Street, in what is now the historic Herron-Morton Place neighborhood.  In about 1912, the 2032 address was reunumbered to 2052 North Albama Street.  The home still exists today.

The Indianapolis News published a photo of Benjamin Franklin Hetherington with his 1906 obituary (scan courtesy of

The Indianapolis News published this photo of Benjamin F. Hetherington above his 1906 obituary

In 1867, Hetherington formed a partnership with another machinist who had also worked in Cincinnati before moving north to Indianapolis.  Frederick Berner (1832-1901) was born in Prussia and came to this country in 1854.  Berner was active in the South Side Turnverein and German Pioneer Association.  He was one of the founders of a school that eventually became Manual Training School and later still, Emmerich Manual High School.  Berner’s home was at 624 Union Street, which was near McCarty Street and Madison Avenue.  His home no longer exists, as that site is adjacent to the on ramp to Interstate-70 West.

1874 ad for Hetherington & Berner that appeared in the Indianapolis News (scan courtesy of

An ad for Hetherington & Berner Company that appeared in the Indianapolis News in 1874   (scan courtesy of

Hetherington & Berner’s first plant was located on West South Street, between Meridian and Illinois Streets.  It was across the street from a popular hotel originally called the Tremont House, which today is the city’s oldest continuously operating bar located in its original building, the Slippery Noodle Inn.

1887 Sanborn map shows the first location of Hetherington & Berner at 10-27 West South Street (image courtesy of IU Digital Library)

1887 Sanborn map shows the first location of Hetherington & Berner at 10-27 West South Street (image courtesy of IU Digital Library)       CLICK TO ENLARGE


(1886 Indianapolis City Directory page courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives) CLICK TO ENLARGE

(1886 Indianapolis City Directory page courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives)      CLICK TO ENLARGE

After the company’s founders passed away in 1901 and 1906, Benjamin Hetherington’s son Frederick Alexander Hetherington (1859-1931) became president of the company.  Hetherington & Berner outgrew its space on West South Street and in 1909 built the first of what would eventually be several buildings at the intersection of Kentucky Avenue and West McCarty Street.

1914 Sanborn map shows the relocation of Hetherington & Berner Company (map courtesy of IU Digital Library) CLICK TO ENLARGE

1914 Sanborn map shows the relocation of Hetherington & Berner to Kentucky Ave and McCarty St    (map courtesy of IU Digital Library)                                CLICK TO ENLARGE

1924 ad for Hetherington & Berner that appeard in The Indianapolis Star (scan courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

1924 newspaper ad for Hetherington & Berner that appeared in The Indianapolis Star

In addition to running the company, Frederick Hetherington was an inventor, photographer, and amateur artist.  He was friends with T. C. Steele, which dated to their art school days together, and he spent a lot of time at his cabin in Brown County.  In the 1920s, Hetherington relinquished his presidency of the company to Frederick Berner’s son, Robert Berner (1884-1973).  Berner ran the company for the rest of its existence.

(1924 Indianapolis News article courtesy of CLICK TO ENLARGE


In 1959, Hetherington & Berner was sold to American Hoist & Derrick Company in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The company maintained a plant in Indianapolis for a number of years but eventually closed the facilities at 701 Kentucky Avenue and 401 South Harding Street.   The last Indianapolis City Directory in which Hetherington & Berner had a listing was 1976.

The City Market survives today, supported by the iron structure manufactured by Hetherington & Berner(photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

The Indianapolis City Market survives today, supported by Hetherington & Berner Company’s 128-year-old iron structure (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

The interior of the City Market is supported by wrought Iron columns and trusses (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

The interior of the City Market is supported by cast and wrought iron columns and trusses made by Hetherington & Berner   (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

Another view of one of the iron poles that support the interior framework of the City Market (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

A view of another one of the many iron poles that support the interior framework of Indianapolis’ City Market building  (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)


8 responses to “HI Mailbag: Hetherington & Berner”

  1. Daniel Wheeler says:

    I have Hetherington’s 1932 carriage stone in my back yard. I always assumed it belonged to this house because at some point weren’t the street numbers changed?
    Also, there is Hetherington steel in the columns supporting the exterior of the Hedback Theater.

  2. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Thank you for commenting. At the time Benjamin Hetherington lived there, the address of the home was 2032 North Alabama Street. Within a few years after his passing, though, the houses were renumbered. You didn’t say what your address was, but if it’s 2052 North Alabama Street, then yes, you live in Benjamin and Jenny Hetherington’s former home. I’m confused by your mention of 1932, though, as Benjamin’s home never had that address. Since the area served as Camp Morton and the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Morton Place wasn’t platted for homes until 1891. That means Hetherington’s house was built after 1891. All of the directories in which Benjamin Hetherington appeared in the 1890s listed his address as 2032. Benjamin’s son, Frederick Hetherington, lived at 1913 N. Alabama Street, which after renumbering, became 1925 N. Alabama Street, so the carriage stone was not from Frederick’s house either. BTW, the lot on which Frederick Hetherington’s home formerly stood is now part of the Herron-Morton Place Historic Park.

  3. Dick Jenkins says:

    Great article, Sharon. Thanks.

  4. donna mikels shea says:

    Sharon I miss chatting with you—missed Kent’s call recently but planning to catch up–Kelly has been out of country and I minding the store—loved your article but as always, a question was sparked–as follows re your reference to Slippery(sic) Noodle–its current name. But not always. I am without timelines so let’s put it in 70’s-8o’s when a small group of us headed largely by wonderful,funny VIP Carl Dortch, then head of C of C but active in every top level of community, had a silly luncheon custom. For no reason I can remember, I used to cut thru downtown alleys to go from TIMES at 214 W. MARYLAND, to cover then Cop-Shop,Jail, facing each other on Alabama. One of my favorite alleys bisected back of rear entrance (revolving door, l-time package pickup complete with doorman) of LS Ayres. (may have been Pearl St?)
    A lkoading dock on s.side of alley,facing Ayres main store had a big brass plaque proclaiming that Dr.John Bobbs had performed lst gall bladder surgery at nearby site over Kiefer something drug store (Sign now in wrong geographic spot on what used to be Ayres, now Circle City Mall. But anyway, Carl and I thought it was fun to invite people to lunch and walk them past that alley down to what was then, I swear it, the “Slippery Noodel Inn.” for lunch. Owner Hal Yeagy, blind, would have tables pre-set Braille style and he was so amazing that it took a while for the newcomer to realize he was blind. ( He could take charge originally-before diners handled silver–but someone at the bar would clear for him after everything was jumbled. I don’t know why we all thought the incorrect spelling so great–and neither do I know when some busy body got new signage spelling correctly–historically loved the old sign better. FYI

  5. Sandra Garner says:

    My Dad, Waymon Garner worked at Hetherington & Berner for 33 years as a Crane Operator until they closed in 1975/1976. They gave him a wonderful letter of recommendation and his pension. He then retired and received one SS check that we used for his funeral for he was shoveling snow in 1977 and had a massive heart attack and passed away on March 24, 1977.
    Thank you for your article with all of the very interesting information.

  6. Vince koers says:

    Interesting article.
    I worked at H & B in several capacities 1967–73 and at one point turned down a job offer from a good customer who had 19 mobile asphalt plants in and around Fargo, ND which were all clones of each other. He liked the idea that his workers “knew” the mechanics of the plant and each one was the same. He worked hard refusing what our engineers called “improvements” over the years and argued each time when ordering yet another one. In the 1960’s the government got serious about dust coming from plants, and dictated adding dust collectors’ inclusion on machinery. One of the selling points of H & B was that all of the plants were pre-erected at the factory to insure everting fit. Our engineers designed and built small ducts collecting dust from all transfer points which led to a small fan which fed the dust to a collector. The customer, Bill, came to town to see his new plant, the first one with fugitive dust collection, and in my engineering capacity I took Bill to the yard to show him his new plant, with the warren of ducts running hither and yon, and he looked it over, tipped his Stetson back and said “ya’ll urging to confuse that dust!”

    By the way, sometime before 1967 H & B acquired yet another manufacturing site on South Harding Street some half-mile south of Washington Street, just south of the multiple railroad tracks running east and west. This is the property, perhaps 20 acres or so, that gave the business room to erect large machinery. No mention of this location has been mentioned here or elsewhere.

  7. Nellie Reed says:

    We recently moved to this house in hustonville ky. In the back yard i found a piece of iron that looks like a door to a maybe a wood stove . It has the name on the front door and it is Hetherington & Berner on it. I have no idea where it came from. It is very heavy because I could’nt pick it up. It also says Indianapolis Indiana on it. Just curious.

    • The brand on the piece of iron must have been made in Indianapolis at H&B, but cannot know what the item came from, if that is what you mean. The company created tons of iron products–many store fronts and other other structural pieces as well. Good luck!

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