Reader’s Question:

I’m trying to locate Duncan Street.  It is mentioned in Howard’s Indianapolis Directory for 1857; there is a copy of this book on Archive.org.  I can’t seem to find a map that shows Duncan St.   I have an ancestor, George Penrose, who lived at the corner of Duncan and Alabama Streets in 1857.  From what I have found, it sounds like a Duncan family lived near 13th St. and Alabama.  Was 13th St. once called Duncan St.?  Since you guys are knowledgeable about this area, I thought it is worth a try to ask you.  Thanks for any information.   ~ Frank Merriman

HI’s Answer:

There may have been a family named Duncan living near 13th and Alabama Streets at one time, but that location was not in the vicinity of Duncan Street.  East 13th Street was formerly called Home Avenue.  The next street south of Home, now 12th Street, was called Butler.  The next street north of Home, now 14th Street, was called Lincoln.

Duncan Street was about two miles directly south of 13th and Alabama, on the near south side.  Duncan was an east-west street, parallel to and halfway between E. South Street and E. Merrill Street.  Duncan ran for only a couple of blocks, from S. Delaware Street on the west to S. New Jersey Street on the east.

1887 Sanborn map of the area around E. Duncan Street (map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Library)

Duncan Street was renamed Henry Street in later years.  As of 1941, there were still residences on all four corners of S. Alabama and E. Henry Streets.

1941 Baist Atlas map of S. Alabama and E. Henry Streets (map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Library)

 

You can find Henry Street on a present-day map, southeast of Bankers Life Fieldhouse (see red map pin below for the intersection of Henry and Alabama).  The blocks both north and south of Henry Street have been huge surface parking lots in recent years.

2013 Google map of the area around S. Alabama Street and E. Henry (formerly Duncan) Street

Depending on which corner your Penrose ancestor lived, the lot on which his home stood would now be part of either the Eli Lilly and Company Corporate Center or part of the new CityWay urban community project..

 

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