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Reader’s Question:

I was wondering if you had any information on prominent families in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, from the late 1800s to the 1940s?  Can you provide any names and addresses?  ~ Jerome J.

HI’s Answer: 

The near northeastside neighborhood that is known today as Martindale-Brightwood was originally two separate entities. Each area can trace its beginnings to the 1870s, and each settlement can be attributed to its proximity to a railroad.  It wasn’t until the formation of the Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation in 1992 that the two neighborhoods were linked together.

Early Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & Indianapolis Railroad train (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

Early Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & Indianapolis Railroad (CCC&IRR) engine and cars    (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

Brightwood, the further east of the two, was platted in 1872.  It was incorporated as an independent municipality in 1876.  The four partners chose a location to create a new town that was adjacent to a railroad, believing it would bring capital and labor together.  Interestingly, though, none of the men credited with founding Brightwood ever resided in Brightwood. Clements A. Greenleaf and John L. Mothershead were manufacturers, and brothers William D. Wiles and Daniel H. Wiles were merchants.  Their efforts were primarily business decisions.

1872 Real Estate Transactions in the Indianapolis News (courtesy of newspapers.ocom)

1872 Transfers of Real Estate in The Indianapolis News             CLICK TO ENLARGE

In addition to the acreage that was incorporated as Brightwood in 1876, the founders’ names can also be seen on tracts of land surrounding the town.  Those areas were later developed, as well.

1889 Griffing, Gordon & Co. Atlas of Marion County shows the location of the Town of Brightwood before annexation (courtesy of Indiana State Library Maps Collection)

1889 Griffing, Gordon & Co. Atlas of Marion County shows the location of the Town of Brightwood before annexation  (courtesy of Indiana State Library)                 CLICK TO ENLARGE

Employees of the “Bee Line” (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad or CCC&IRR) were the first to settle in the Town of Brightwood.  Businesses soon followed to serve the needs of the residents.  A large percentage of Brightwood folks worked for the railroad, directly or indirectly.  Although Brightwood was annexed to the City of Indianapolis in 1897, it continued to have the look and feel of a small town for several decades thereafter.

Cover page of Bee Line timetable (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

Cover page of a Bee Line Railway timetable         (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

The area known as Martindale was west of Brightwood and closer in to the center of Indianapolis.  It was just over a mile east of North Meridian Street.  It was established in 1873 by Frederick Ruschaupt and Gustave Zschech, on land adjacent to today’s Monon Trail and near today’s Dr. Andrew J. Brown Avenue. Ruschaupt and Zschech established the Indianapolis Car Works, a railroad machine yard, which was later renamed Atlas Engine Works and later still, Lyons-Atlas Company.    Like the founders of Brightwood, Ruschaupt and Zschech invested in the area for its proximity to the railroad, the Monon Route of the Chicago, Indianapolis, & Louisville Railroad.  However, Ruschaupt and Zschech actually lived in the area.  They built twin houses high on a hill in what would today be the 2000 block of Hillside Avenue.

Frederick Ruschaupt's home was at 2051 Hillside Avenue (courtesy of newspapers.com)

1929 Indianapolis Star clipping of Frederick Ruschaupt’s home at 2051 Hillside Ave.

Early train on the Monon Route (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

Early train on the Monon Line                    (image courtesy of spellerweb.net)

Today’s Dr. Andrew J. Brown Avenue was briefly called Beeler Street in the 1800s.  For more than a century, the street was called Martindale Avenue.   The Martindale area was never an independent municipality.  It did not have as many commercial properties as Brightwood did, but developed primarily as an industrial area.  Modest homes were built nearby, and many of residents walked to work at one of the companies along the Monon Railroad.  They included National Motor Vehicle Company, Atlas Engine Works, Eaglesfield Lumber, Indianapolis Gas Works, Indiana Veneer Company, and Thomas & Skinner Steel Products.

1889 Griffing, Gordon & Co. Atlas of Indianapolis Marion County shows the location of the early area that later became Martindale (courtesy of the Indiana State Library)

1889 Griffing, Gordon & Co. Atlas of  Marion County shows the early area that was known as the Martindale neighborhood                       (courtesy of the Indiana State Library)            CLICK TO ENLARGE

(March 2, 1911 Indianapolis Star article courtesy of newspapers.com)

(March 2, 1911 Indianapolis Star)

In 1905, the Brightwood YMCA was built on Roosevelt Avenue across from Station Street by the Railroad Department (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

In 1905, the Brightwood YMCA was built by the Railroad Department on Roosevelt Avenue across from Station Street       (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Early city directories did not list the addresses of persons residing in Brightwood or Martindale, so it is difficult to provide residents’ exact locations until the 20th century.  By the 1910s, exact addresses of homes within the city limits were published.  Pages from the 1915 R. L. Polk City Directory are provided below.

1915 Indianapolis Directory of the residents and merchants on Station Street (scan courtesy of Ancestry.com)

1915 Indianapolis City Directory of the residents and businesses on Station Street in Brightwood     ( Ancestry.com)             CLICK TO ENLARGE

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1915 Indianapolis City Directory of the residents and businesses on Station Street in the Brightwood area (scan courtesy of Ancestry.com) CLICK TO ENLARGE

1915 Indianapolis City Directory of the residents and businesses on Adams Street in Brightwood   (Ancestry.com)               CLICK TO ENLARGE

The first school in the Brightwood vicinity was Center Township School #12.   It was located on the southwest corner of Willow Street and Brightwood Avenue (known today as E. 28th Street and N. Sherman Drive).  The old Center Township school built in the 1860s was demolished after James Russell Lowell School 51 was built in 1900 in the irregularly shaped corner formed by Olney Street, Glen Drive, and Gale Street.

The original School 51 faced Gale Street (W. H. Bass Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

The 1900-built IPS James Russell Lowell School 51 was north of Glen Drive, facing Olney Street to the west of it           (Wm. H. Bass Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

The original James Russell Lowell School 51 has been replaced with a new building (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of Indiana Historical Scoeity)

A 1913 addition to James Russell Lowell School 51 was perpendicular to it and faced Roosevelt Avenue to the south                  (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of Indiana Historical Scoeity)

1915 Indianapolis City Directory of the residents and businesses on Martindale Drive (scan courtesy of Ancestry.com)

1915 Indianapolis City Directory of the residents and businesses on Martindale Avenue in the Martindale area    (Ancestry.com)        CLICK TO ENLARGE

(IFD Station 21 photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Fire Department's Digital Archives)

(IFD Station No. 21 photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Fire Department’s Digital Archives)

(September 21, 1928 Indianapolis Star article courtesy of newspapers.com) CLICK TO ENLARGE

(September 21, 1928 Indianapolis Star )       CLICK TO ENLARGE

1928 photo of the Veritas Masonic Temple at Roosevelt Avenue and Adams Street (image courtesy of )

1928 photo of the Veritas Masonic Lodge at 3350 Roosevelt Avenue in Brightwood           (image courtesy of ebay.tv )

(April 10, 1930 article in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(April 10, 1930 article in The Indianapolis Star )

(1931 obit in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(1931 obituary in The Indianapolis Star )

(1939 obituary in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(1939 obit in The Indianapolis Star )  CLICK TO ENLARGE 

(1945 ad in the Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(1945 ad in The Indianapolis Star )

(May 15, 1952 obituary in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(May 15, 1952 obit in The Indianapolis Star)

 

(September 10, 1952 obituary in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(September 10, 1952 obituary in The Indianapolis Star )

(August 9, 1959 obituary in The Indianapolis Star courtesy of newspapers.com)

(August 9, 1959 obituary in The Indianapolis Star )

1940 view of Station Street (W. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Late 1940s or early 1950s view of a still-thriving Station Street in “downtown” Brightwood        (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

The relocation of railroad repair shops to Beech Grove and the construction of new rail yards in Avon contributed to the demise of the once vibrant Brightwood community.  As the jobs and residents left, the merchants followed.  Buildings were abandoned and burned down or were torn down.  The former town remains an economically challenged area today.

The end of service on the Monon Railroad resulted in many buildings along its route in the Martindale area being abandoned or falling into disrepair between the 1970s and 2000s.  However, in the last decade, the highly popular bicycle and pedestrian friendly Monon Trail has resulted in the renovation of many former industrial properties along the rail trail’s borders.

 

21 responses to “HI Mailbag: Martindale-Brightwood Families”

  1. Rebecca Bandy says:

    Great story, Sharon! My paternal Grandparents lived 50+ years in Brightwood. They built a 2 story brick home at 2202 Station St. before 1920. They wanted it close to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, so their children could go to school and church. Many names on the city directory were more than familiar to me. My maternal grandparents lived from 1920 at 2968 School St.( later renamed Forest Manor) across from what was Public School 73. For a couple of years while in high school, my Mother worked for Herman Roesch behind the soda fountain. Brightwood was the hub of so much in their lives from 1920-1950’s. Great memories for me to read your article.
    PS….my grandparent’s house on Station St. is still standing…..one of the few on the street that hasn’t been demolished.

  2. Davis robbins says:

    Good story. However, the school building identified as School 51 was always called The New Building. Do you have any pictures of The Old Building? It appeared to have been built about 1900. The New building looker about 1940’s.

  3. basil berchekas jr says:

    I vaguely remember the “Brightwood airport,” a private small flying field formerly located where the Indianapolis Produce Terminal eventually located, and where the FedEx ground terminal is now, south of Massachusetts Avenue, east of Sherman Drive. I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that Amelia Earhart flew out of there on occasion. I know it was there, because I distinctly recall a private small plane flying out of there from a distance…looking north from Pogue’s Run.

  4. Bob Palma says:

    An interesting article, Sharon; thanks. I drove through those neighborhoods in the early 1970s on my way to teaching Auto Mechanics at Tech High School.
    .
    The last photo can’t be 1940. The automobile on the right, at the curb and seen from the rear, appears to be a 1950 Hudson. That distinctive, all-new Hudson design was introduced in 1948.
    .
    Bob Palma, Columnist,
    Hemmings Classic Car

  5. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Yes, I do! I will add another photo to the article. I included an image of the 1913 addition, as I thought people who are alive today would recognize it more readily. Interestingly, the structure that you refer to as “The Old Building” was not the first school building in Brightwood. When Marion County was still largely a rural area, each township had its own set of schools, spaced out around the township. Center Township School #12 was located on the southwest corner of Willow Street and Brightwood Avenue (today known as E. 28th Street and N. Sherman Drive). That township school was demolished in 1900, after the new school at Glen Drive and Olney Street was completed. The addition to the 1900 building that you refer to as “The New Building” was completed about 1913. I have a photograph of my mother performing in a play on the stage at School 51, taken in about 1926 or 1927. You may already be aware of this, but in case you are not, an even newer James Russell Lowell School 51 was built in the last few years. Here’s the link to a Google image of it: http://tinyurl.com/p579fsx.

  6. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the year. I have revised the caption under the photo to “. . . late 1940s or early 1950s.”

  7. Marti Spears Hoffman says:

    Sharon,

    Thanks for this article. My parents bought a home in Brightwood when I was about two. I went to school 51 for Kindergarten, part of first grade and again for 4th grade. I remember the Halloween parades in the “downtown” area. It is one street west of Sherman Dr. and is worth driving through. I would love to see it revived.

  8. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Marti,
    .
    I didn’t know about your Brightwood connections, since I first met you when you were a sophomore at Shortridge. Where was your family’s home?
    .
    I too have Brightwood connections. Three generations of my mother’s family lived in Brightwood at various times over the years. It started with my great-grandmother’s brother, who was an engineer on the Big Four Railroad. He built a house on Adams Street in the 1890s. My great-grandmother lived there until just before she died in 1965, so there are about 75 years’ worth of Brightwood memories on my mom’s side of the family. Other family homes were on LaSalle Street and another house on Adams Street.
    .
    My mother and her siblings were all born in Brightwood and went to James Russell Lowell School 51. I have a photo of my mother in a school play in the auditorium in about 1927 or 1928. Her immediate family moved north in the 1930s, so that the children could attend Shortridge, but the earlier generation remained in Brightwood the rest of their lives.
    .
    Since my great-grandmother lived there when my siblings and I were growing up, we spent a fair amount of time in Brightwood, along with our cousins (our mother’s siblings’ children). We regularly played on the playground at Glen Drive and Olney Street, on an irregularly shaped lot just west of the school. I always loved the downtown area. It was like visiting a small town.
    .
    I too would love to see Brightwood revived. Knowing what a bustling place it once was, it’s very sad to see it in its present state.
    .
    Thanks for leaving a comment. We’ll have to get together and reminisce about Brightwood some time.
    .
    Sharon

  9. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Basil,
    .
    I will search old newspapers to see if I can find any references to Amelia Earhart’s having flown in to the Brightwood Airport.
    .
    Sharon

  10. basil berchekas jr says:

    Appreciate it. I hope I wasn’t hearing a rumor. I do remember seeing private planes fly off the runway there before Indianapolis Produce Terminal was built. We used the Indiana National Bank branch there as our “neighborhood” branch bank.

  11. REv. Shonda nicole gladden says:

    Sharon,

    Thank you for sharing this fascinating history about the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood. I have recently begun serving as the pastor of St. Paul AME Church at E. 25th and Manlove in Martindale-Brightwood. Might you have any history on the neighborhood surrounding the church? Perhaps you can share some significant facts and/or photographs to about the congregation? I am grateful for any insights you can provide. Thank you in advance.

  12. Tiffany Benedict Browne says:

    Rev. Gladden, if you enter terms of interest to you in the search bar on our site, you may find other relevant content. We also have many (though not all) of our articles on our map, so you might try that way as well.

  13. Jr. Raynes says:

    I just started doing some research when I came across this. I started school at school 51 in 1969, and things had really changed since then.

  14. Anonymous says:

    4

  15. Laura Miller says:

    My great grandparents-the Bell’slived at 2338 N Lasalle. My grandfather grew up there. His parents lived there until they purchased a small ‘ranch’ outside of town. My grandfather was Don Bell. His father was Alfred Bell and was an engineer on the Railroad. Thank you for this informative site.

  16. D. Smith says:

    If you’re still looking for confirmation that Brightwood Airport existed, try this link:
    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/IN/Airfields_IN_Indy_E.htm

  17. David Hodo says:

    I am looking for pictures of the Philippine Drugs store, located on 2302 Martindale in Indianapolis. Can you help? The pictures could be as early as 1947-2005.

  18. Taylor S. says:

    Hello and thank you for the informative piece on Brightwood. My grandfather’s family lived at 2761 Brightwood Avenue in 1919 when grandfather came home from the war in France. I have some documents listing the address, however I have not been able to find exactly where the house was. Can you provide more information about homes in the 2700 block of Brightwood Avenue between 1900 and 1925?

    Thank you!

  19. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Hello, Taylor,
    Brightwood Avenue was the name of the north-south street that was the eastern boundary of the Town of Brightwood when Brightwood was a separate municipality from the City of Indianapolis. Brightwood Avenue was essentially the continuation of the street known as Sherman Drive within the city limits of Indianapolis. From 15th Street on the south to 34th Street on the north, the street that was known elsewhere as Sherman Drive was called Brightwood Avenue. It wasn’t until several years after the Town of Brightwood was annexed to Indianapolis that Brightwood Avenue was renamed Sherman Drive. Your grandfather’s address was changed from 2761 Brightwood Avenue to 2761 North Sherman Drive. The property is located on the southeast corner of 28th and Sherman. It appears that your grandfather operated a grocery store at that address. Today that corner is the site of a church.
    Sharon

  20. Tempo Quillin Hamm says:

    I lived with my grandparents at 2213 Station Street from 1960 – 1972. My grandparents lived there with my grandfather’s parents for many years. I attended P.S. 51 from 1961 – 1969; all of elementary and junior high. Attended Arsenal Technical H.S.. I stumbled across this article while searching for the namem of the florist on Station Street north of 25th Street and I think next door to Moore and Kirk Funeral Home. Great article!

  21. Bradford Scott Reed says:

    Thanks for the research. My father’s parents, William E. and Phoenia Reed moved to the corner of Olney and I think 26th street, in 1915. They came up from Mt. Vernon, on the Ohio River. Grandpa retired from the Big 4 Railroad as a brakeman. His route was Bellefointaine, Ohio and (oddly enough) Olney, Illinois. Olney was listed as an alley. Many of my aunts and uncles bought homes and resided in the area through the early 60’s. My first home before my folks moved further on the eastside was on Roosevelt Ave. I loved going with my dad to make a day of visiting his folks, aunts and uncles and my cousins. As a pre and early teen my older cousin, Mike, would lead us to ‘downtown’ for comic books and fountain cokes at Roesch’s Drug store. The main grocery was Standard where the YMCA used to be. My dad told me that grandpa would regularly get off the train as it neared the roundhouse and stop at Dillinger’s Dry Goods. Yes, that Dillinger.

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