Reader’s Question:

I recall having come across a photo of a mansion on either Meridian or Pennsylvania Street that belonged to a member of the Jameson or Tarkington family.  If you are familiar with the house, can you share its story?  What happened to it? Thanks!  ~ Theresa, Indianapolis

HI’s Answer:

The mansion to which you refer was located on North Pennsylvania Street.  The house had several different addresses during its 101 years of existence, as a result of the City’s periodical updating of its numbering system.  The final address by which the home was known was 1035 North Pennsylvania Street.  The property belonged to members of both the Jameson and Tarkington families, as well as to two other prominent citizens before them.

The residence was a brick, three-story, Colonial Virginia style residence.  The front of the building had a pediment atop two large Ionic columns and a covered entry supported by six smaller pillars.  Inside the front door, a wide center hall extended from the front of the home to the back of the home, a distance reported to have been about seventy-five feet in length. The ceilings of the rooms on the main level were eighteen feet high.

The Ovid Butler Jameson House was called "Barley Bright" because of its owner's generous use of yellow and gold colors (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The Ovid Butler Jameson House was called “Barley Bright” because of its owner’s generous use of yellow and gold colors (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The residence began its storied existence in 1854, when the original portion of the house was built by Methodist Episcopal Bishop Edward Raymond Ames (1806-1879).  The land on which Ames erected the home had originally been purchased from the federal government in 1822 by Samuel Q. Booker, but it had remained unimproved until Bishop Ames acquired the land.  The property was located outside the city limits when Ames constructed his home.  At that time, Indianapolis’s corporation line was at what was then called First Street and is today called 10th Street.  Ames was known as the “Statesman Bishop” for his involvement in Indiana politics, and he often opened his home for State functions.

Methodist Bishop Edward Raymond Ames built the home that would later be known as the Ovid Butler Jameson House (image from A History of Athens County by Charles M. Walker, 1869)

Methodist Bishop Edward Raymond Ames built the home that would later be known as the Ovid Butler Jameson House  (image from “A History of Athens County, Ohio” by Charles M. Walker)


1855 Condit, Wright, and Hayden map shows the property owner as E. R. Ames (courtesy of the Indiana State Library)

1855 Condit, Wright, and Hayden map shows the property owner of the land north of today’s E. 10th Street as E. R. Ames    (Indiana State Library)              [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

Within a decade of building the house, Bishop Ames was called to Baltimore, Maryland, for another post.  In 1863, he sold the property to Judge Addison Locke Roache Sr. (1817-1906).  Roache was a native of Tennessee who had come north to Bloomington in 1838 to attend Indiana University.  Roache married a Parke County native named Emily Wedding in 1842 and decided to make Indiana his permanent home.  He was admitted to the bar in 1845, elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1847, and was tapped as a Justice of the Supreme Court in 1853.  In 1854, he became President of the Indiana & Illinois Central Railroad (I&ICRR) and gave up his seat on the bench.  The house on Pennsylvania Street was the Roache family’s home for nearly four decades, the longest of any of its residents.

Judge Addison Locke Roach was the second owner of the subject property (photo courtesy of Marsha Cope Huie)

Judge Addison Locke Roache was the second owner of the subject property (photo courtesy of Marsha Cope Huie)

1887 Sanborn Fire Map 68 shows the property started at First (now 10th Street) Map courtesy of IU Digital Archives

The 1887 Sanborn Fire Map 68 shows that the property started at First (now 10th) Street and occupied most of a city block  (Map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives)                       [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]


(1900 Census scan courtesy of [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

(1900 Census)                                          [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

In 1902, the 85-year-old Roache decided to move to California for his twilight years.  He sold the home to Ovid Butler Jameson and his wife, Mary “Hauté” Booth Tarkington Jameson.  Ovid Butler Jameson (1854-1915) was the son of physician Patrick Henry Jameson and Maria Butler Jameson.  Mr. Jameson was named for his mother’s father, Ovid Butler, the founder of North Western Christian University, now Butler University.  Ovid Butler Jameson was an attorney with an office in the American Central Life Insurance Building on the northeast corner of Monument Circle and Market Street.

Ovid Butler Jameson (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Ovid Butler Jameson    (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Mrs. Ovid Butler Jameson was Mary Booth Tarkington Jameson (1858-1937), the daughter of John Stevenson Tarkington and Elizabeth Booth Tarkington.  She received her nickname of Hauté from her maternal grandfather as a nod to her mother’s Vigo County birthplace of Terre Haute.  Hauté was the older sister of novelist and dramatist Newton Booth Tarkington (1869-1946).  She adored her younger brother and remained close to him all her life, serving at times as his unofficial agent and public relations consultant.  The Tarkington family’s residence at 1100 North Pennsylvania Street was diagonally across the street from the Jameson House, on the northwest corner of 11th and Pennsylvania Streets.

Mary "Hauté" Booth Tarkington Jameson in evening attire (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Mary “Hauté” Booth Tarkington Jameson in evening attire (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Although already historic by the time the Jamesons purchased the nearly half-century-old home, it was the Jamesons’ stewardship of the residence that made it famous.  Christened “Barley Bright” by family friend James Whitcomb Riley — who may have been a beau of Mrs. Jameson when they were younger — the moniker was apparently related to Hauté’s liberal use of the colors yellow and gold throughout the home.

The home’s décor included French and Egyptian wallpaper, Italian Gothic decorations, a pulpit chair that had belonged to noted clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, brass fixtures, Louis XIV furniture, ivory woodwork, a marble urn excavated at Pompeii, rare paintings, and more.  French lace and heavy brocade covered the windows, some of which contained Tiffany leaded glass.

The center hall of the Ovid Butler Jameson House ran the entire length of the house, from front to back (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The center hall inside the Ovid Butler Jameson House ran the entire length of the house    (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The Ovid Butler Jameson House became a gathering place for many of the interesting people of the time.  Besides prominent local individuals, visitors to the home over the 35 years of the Jamesons’ ownership included President Woodrow Wilson, actresses Ethel Barrymore and Helen Hayes, actors Otis Skinner and Alfred Lunt, and authors William Dean Howells and Henry James.

Barley Bright Gold Parlor (photo courtesy of Patrician Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The parlor in the Ovid Butler Jameson House was decorated in gold wallcoverings, gold furniture, and gold draperies        (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The Jamesons’ home was a hub for persons who appreciated literature, theatre, music, and spiritualism, as well as the social and political issues of the day.  Hauté held meetings of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Indiana Republican Party, and the Indiana Woman’s Club in her parlor or her library.  Ladies’ teas were held in the dining room.  Plays were performed in the third floor ballroom by the “Tarkington Players,” the predecessor of the Little Theatre Society of Indiana and now known as the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre of Indianapolis.   On Wednesday afternoons, the ballroom was the site of Miss Stanton’s dancing classes.  The Dramatic Club also rehearsed and performed in the Jamesons’ third-floor ballroom.

Barley Bright dining room (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The dining room of the Ovid Butler Jameson House was decorated with items from Tiffany & Co. of New York City                     (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The Ovid Butler Jameson House's library was the meeting place for intellectual discussiions (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The library in the Ovid Butler Jameson House was a frequent meeting place for intellectual discussions and club meetings     (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)


1910 Census scan courtesy of [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

1910 Census                                             [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

When the ballroom on the third floor of the Jameson residence was not being used by others, it was the site of theatrical productions mounted by the Jameson children and their neighborhood friends.

Brothers John Tarkington Jameson (left) and Donald Ovid Butler Jameson (right) flank Josephine Sharp and Eleanor Herd The ballroom on the third floor of the residence was frequently the site of theatrical productions (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Brothers John Tarkington Jameson (left) and Donald Ovid Butler Jameson (right) flank Josephine Sharp and Eleanor Herd   (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Ovid Butler Jameson passed away in 1915 at the age of 60.  Hauté Jameson remained in the home for another 22 years, hosting club meetings and parties for her friends and baptisms and holiday dinners for her family.  She died at home in 1937.  She was 78.

Mary "Hauté" Booth Tarkington Jameson (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

Mary “Hauté” Booth Tarkington Jameson (photo courtesy of Patricia Jameson Acheson Cochran)

The Tarkingtons and Jamesons, as well as many other extended family members, are buried in Section 12 at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Nuerous members of the Tarking and Jameson families are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Section 12 Lot 56 (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

Many members of the Tarkington and Jameson families are buried in Indianapolis’ Crown Hill Cemetery in Section 12 Lot 56   (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)                [ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]

For a few years after her passing, the house was rented to antique dealers.  The first one was named Mina A. Markle.  The later one was Carlos Recker Sr., whose wife was a Butler.  In 1944, the former Jameson home was bought by Irwin Wright Cotton.  He operated the I. W. Cotton Electric Company in the residence for about a decade.


In 1955, the City of Indianapolis made plans to widen East 11th Street.  It was determined that 1035 North Pennsylvania Street would have to be sacrificed for the street project.  In July of that year, workers moved into the Jameson House to prepare for its demolition.  Over the next few weeks, they dismantled woodwork, flooring, lighting fixtures, and plumbing parts.  The century-old house was torn down later that year.  However, when the street was actually widened, it was not necessary to include the property on which the Jameson home had stood.  Neither was the property needed when the Interstate highway system was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, the land on which 1035 North Pennsylvania Street once stood is an asphalt parking lot alongside the 11th Street on-ramp to eastbound Interstate-65.  There are no indications whatsoever of the history that occurred or the memories that were made on this little piece of earth.

The land where the Ovid Butler Jameson House once stood is now a parking lot adjacent to the 11th Street on-ramp to I-65 (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

The land where the Ovid Butler Jameson House once stood is now a parking lot adjacent to the 11th Street on-ramp to I-65 (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)


17 responses to “HI Mailbag: Ovid Butler Jameson House”

  1. Phil Brooks says:

    Thank you for this interesting story!

    I did some research on Roach, whose last name is also spelled as Roache. The town of Roachdale is named after him. Wonder why the name spelling difference exists?

  2. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Good catch on the Roach/Roache name! In researching my answer to this Mailbag question, I stumbled upon a McCorkle family website that discusses this subject (McCorkle was Addison’s mother’s maiden name). It says that the judge’s spelling with an “e” on the end of Roach was an affectation adopted by him later in life.
    The town of Roachdale was named for the judge as a way of showing the townspeople’s gratitude for the railroad (of which he was president) going through their town. However, the renaming of Roachdale occurred when Addison was in his 50s or 60s, before he conceived of the idea of embellishing his surname.
    In several city directories I viewed and in every census on which he was enumerated (including the 1900 Census, just six years before he died), Addison Roach’s name was spelled with no “e.” Also, his record on the Crown Hill Cemetery website’s “Burial Locator” does not have an “e” on the end.
    As you may know, there is city street named Roache, so the City of Indianapolis decided to observe his pretentiousness. Ultimately, I decided to spell the surname as Roache. Despite the preponderance of evidence that the name was originally Roach, and despite the fact that he had descendants who spelled it as Roach, a person has the right to spell his name as he wishes.

  3. Phil Brooks says:

    Thanks for the detailed explanation- makes sense! Too bad he confused the issue by adding the e… I’ll have to question him about that next time I’m at Crown Hill!

  4. Diane Roberts Joslin says:

    Sharon, thank you so much for this fascinating story! The first 6 years of my life were spent less than a mile from this location at 1308 Central Avenue (from 1946 to 1952). So much wonderful history in my hometown!!:)

  5. basil berchekas jr says:

    An outstanding article, Sharon! If the City had done its “homework” regarding platting an improvement to the street project, this house could conceivably still “be here” today and add significantly to the historic value of the neighborhood, maybe serving as a clubhouse, office, or other compatible use. This type of situation is common, unfortunately. In an unrelated venue, has there ever been any historic investigation on the Sutherland family farm north of this immediate area and their involvement with the state fair that was located at the former Camp Morton? I’ve noticed Sutherland Avenue along the east side of Fall Creek and the formerly busy Sutherland yards of the former Nickel Plate RR just south of 38th (used to work with a man in Atlanta named Mark Byrd whose dad was the yard master there, and whose aunts used to sing with a ladies’ group at the nearby Moravian church on 34th near the yards…).

  6. Brigette Cook Jones says:

    I am interested in finding out a little more about James Whitcomb Riley and his time spent at Barley Bright.
    I did some online searching and ran across this article dated 11/17/1929 in the IUPUI collection about Barley Bright:
    It states some interesting things about Riley, the Tarkington’s and Riley’s time spent at Barley Bright.
    It gives a verse that Riley composed to give the home its name:
    “O luckless wight, that I, tonight – Should fail to be at Barley Bright.”
    This article goes onto claim that Riley composed several poems on the old “south porch” – which by 1929 had been removed (the date of the article).
    Does anyone have any pictures of this porch??
    The article goes onto state that Riley penned several poems on the south porch including Flying Islands of the Night (1913), Katie’s Wish – (a poem that I will have to look up), and “the story” of “Little Orphant Annie” – thus my interest as Orphant Annie’s Author.
    Well here is where I need to get some clarification.
    It has been fairly well documented in several sources that the poem “Little Orphant Annie” – which was originally entitled “The Elf Child” was composed in Greenfield in James Whitcomb Riley’s father’s home – the “Old Seminary Building” – located on South Pennsylvania Street (no longer standing) It is said that Riley was upstairs and heard the clinking of the dishes as they were being cleared away from the meal – and it brought to mind the Orphan girl who came to live at the Riley’s old Homestead along the National Road. This inspired Riley to write the “Elf Child poem,” which was the original title of “Little Orphant Annie.” I am fairly certain that “Little Orphant Annie” – -was written in Greenfield.
    The LOA poem was originally written as “The Elf Child” and has the phrase – “Little Orphant ALLIE” has come to our house to stay. “Allie” was short for “Alice.” – Later on in a subsequent publication a typesetter would misread Riley’s handwriting and change the “Allie” to “Annie.”
    The poem’s first appearance was in the Indianapolis Journal on November 15, 1885.
    At that time, Riley was spending some time with the Tarkingtons. It has been said that Riley and Mary “Haute” Tarkington – Booth’s older sister may have been dating – – but Elizabeth Van Allen – Riley’s most recent biographer says no. In her book, “James Whitcomb Riley, A Life” – Van Allen claims Riley and Haute were only good friends.
    So can anyone tell me – – when did Riley and the Tarkingtons start “hanging out together?”
    From 1877 – 1885, Riley was dating and then engaged (for the last five years) to a Greenfield school teacher, Clara Bottsford, but that relationship would end – later that year. The “Boss Girl” book would come out for publication in December, 1885. And Mary “Haute” Tarkington’s younger brother – Booth Tarkington would be the creator of that book’s cover. So based on this info – – we know that prior to the “Boss Girl” book coming out – – Riley and Booth Tarkington had to be close and in some regular contact.
    It is also stated in the IUPUI article that Mary “Haute” Tarkington Jameson – has the “manuscript” of the Boss Girl book. – – Would LOVE to get a look at that!!! – if that is true. If someone in the Tarkington/Jameson family still has the original – – or could tell me where that original manuscript ended up (if it was donated somewhere).
    So what about the claim that “Little Orphant Annie” was written on the south porch?
    Could it be that this article should be read literally – that “the STORY of ‘Little Orphant Annie’ was written at the Tarkington home?
    There is a second LOA poem – actually the first one written – that details the arrival of the orphan girl to the Riley Home, and it is more of a story. However, this prose poem – has always gone by the title “Where is Mary Alice Smith?” and does not mention Little Orphant Allie/Annie – so it makes me wonder why anyone would refer to the prose poem as the “story of Little Orphant Annie?” Yet – it does in fact tell Annie’s story.
    This poem first appears in print in the Indianapolis Journal in September 30, 1882.
    What I would like to know – – if there is any way to clarify – WHEN the Tarkingtons and Riley became friends – – was it as early as 1882? Is there any other indication – anywhere that it was the “Where is Mary Alice Smith” poem written at Barley Bright? Or any other evidence to support Little Orphant Annie was written there – – to the contrary of everything else that I have read about this poem?
    If the “Where is Mary Alice Smith” poem – WAS written at Barley Bright – – does anyone know of any other information about its inspiration? Would like to get that information as well.
    Yes – – I’m researching for a book to write – – and any help would be appreciated!!

  7. Tom Davis says:

    He’s buried near the southwest corner of Section 1 alongside the road with the white line. I don’t remember for sure which spelling is on the family marker, but I think his headstone only has his inititials. Gray-granite if I’m remembering correctly. There is also (at at least used to be) an annual lecture at IU called something like the Addison Roache Lecture Series.

  8. Tom Davis says:

    I’ve put a picture of Roache’s monument in my tweet @CrownHIllTom. He does spell it Roache on the monument and to tell the truth, if my last name was Roach, I might add an ‘e’ to the end myself.

  9. Bill Laut says:

    Sharon, thanks for the interesting story. The Butler family is part of my family tree (through marriage), and I appreciate the fine work and research you did on this query. But then again, you always find the unique and fascinating stories!

  10. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you for your kind words.

  11. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Thanks for confirming the spelling on his monument, Tom.

  12. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I have encountered the Sutherland name many times, when I’ve been researching other subjects in the vicinity of their properties. I would be happy to do an article on the Sutherland family and/or Sutherland-related subjects. If you will send a question to historicindianapolis(at), I will put it “in the queue.” I try to answer the questions in chronological order of their receipt, as best I can. Sometimes I have to do them out of order, if I am having diffculty finding information on a subject or I am waiting on confirmation of a fact from a source that is slow to respond.

  13. Brigette Cook Jones says:

    As an update to my previous post . ..

    I did find out that John Tarkington (Haute and Booth’s father) – was a Circuit Court judge in Hancock County – so James Whitcomb Riley’s father as a Greenfield attorney – would have interacted with Judge Tarkington in the early 1870’s. This may (or may not) be how JWR came to know the Tarkingtons. Found it interesting anyway.
    Did some more research and determined that the porch where Riley wrote the poems – was not at the house that this article was about – – but was about the John and Elizabeth Tarkington Home at 1100 North Pennsylvania Street. This home – sadly – was taken out for the interstate construction and no longer exists. It appears that this was home (on Penn street) was the original “Barley Bright” – and where Riley and the Tarkington family associated. Evidently, this home was the one for which Riley composed the little line about Barley Bright.
    However, I have found references – in the finding aids for the Tarkington papers at IHS – that the home that is mentioned here – the Jameson Home – was referred to as “Barley Bright II.” Interesting!
    Still would like to get more info on that manuscript. – and flesh out the writing of the “Where is Mary Alice Smith?” poem – at the Tarkington home.
    Wonderful article – – and of course – – this article led me down the path to this other discovery!!! Thank you so much!

  14. Christy Scofield says:

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of the home’s interior

  15. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I thought of you when I was scanning Patricia Cochran’s photographs, as I recalled your request for articles with interior images of homes.

  16. Brian says:

    Isn’t that the home of Calvin Fletcher right next to the parking lot?

  17. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Yes, it is. Calvin J. Fletcher III, that is. He was the grandson of Calvin J. Fletcher Sr. The home is about to have a new owner.

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