Playing football in what became Finch Park, ca. 1915
Finch Park, originally located on S. State Avenue between Spann and Fletcher Avenues, has long served the Fountain Square neighborhood as a playground and park. Photograph lender Elizabeth Laslie shared this ca. 1915 image of her grandfather playing football in the park that was later named after the family of Alice K. Finch.
Neighborhood resident Otto Dick is among the athletes in this community football league. A photographer captured them playing in lots that eventually became Finch Park in Indianapolis. It is unclear who owned the lots at this point since newspaper articles state that Indianapolis City Parks did not buy the property until 1923. The photograph is undated, but based on the hat and clothing of the woman in the background and age of Otto Dick, the year is about 1910 to 1915. This view looks southwest at the intersection of Fletcher and S. State Avenues.
Alice K. Finch (1852-1923, daughter of Judge Fabius Finch) bequeathed $10,000 to the Indianapolis Parks Department for playground purposes in 1923. The Indianapolis Park Board named the park at S. State and Spann Avenues “Finch Park & Playground” in memory of the Finch Family.
According to a news report, thousands of southsiders attended the park’s opening ceremonies on July 2, 1923. City officials promised additional playground equipment and more landscaping “to make the playgrounds a real park.” Park staff praised the Southeastern Improvement Association for their efforts of civic improvement. The Marimba Band and the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Band entertained the crowd while children played on the swings and slides in the new park surrounded by electrically-lit Chinese lanterns for the evening’s festival.
In 1927 the park board built the brick and tile Alice K. Finch Memorial Shelter House on the east end of the grounds. It housed a stage and “comfort stations.”
IPS William McKinley School #39, ca. 2010 (Photo courtesy of School 39)
In 1988, Indianapolis Public Schools traded properties with Indy Parks and built the new William McKinley School #39 on the old Finch Park & Playground site. A new Finch Park then opened at 801 S. State Avenue in Indianapolis, just two blocks south of its original location.
Today, most of the houses on the south side of Fletcher Avenue still stand. Note the old brick street. The green commercial building in the distance (on the southwest corner of Fletcher and State) has served many uses through the years, including the E. B. Holtam & Co. Grocery (1910s and ’20s), L. V. Whybrow Grocery (1932), Allan J. Boesel Grocery (1935), Joseph Zimmerman Grocery (1945), Charles E. Williams Regal Market (1950s-’70s), Mikita’s Market (1970s-’80s). Although a spot check did not reveal the year, Kindrick’s Regal Market also occupied the building, as revealed by this advertising mural that owners discovered in about 2010 under the siding on the east side of the store. “Fresh Up with 7-Up” became 7-Up’s slogan in 1957.
Advertising mural for Kindrick’s Regal Market
If you have memories of Finch Park or the surrounding neighborhood, please leave comments below.
–Biographical And Reminiscent History Of Richland, Clay And Marion Counties, Illinois 1909, p. 216
-Finch Family, 1595-Present (http://www.finchroots.com)
-William McKinley School 39 web page (http://www.myips.org/Page/2417)
-“Finch Playground Opening Attended by City Officials,” Indianapolis Star, July 3, 1923, p. 9
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My 3 younger brothers and I all played in that park every day.Have so many memories there.We played in the wading pool.and enjoyed the playground equipment,.Played for hours in the sand box at the end of the shelter house..Being a TomBoy I also played foot ball there.Met my husband there while playing softball .Would love to see a pic of the wading pool,and shelter house.Thanks so much for sharing this pic.
Glad to spark some happy memories, Sandy. I’ve been looking for photos of the shelter house, but no luck yet. Was the shelter house that you remember the older brick one with restrooms on both ends? If so, what era are you talking about? Do you know when it was demolished? Thanks!
My Grandparents owned the Williams Regal Market on Fletcher Ave. If anyone has any pictures of the store during that time, I would love to see them. Thanks
Janice – I would love to know more about the building! Does your family have old pictures of the former grocery store?
Thanks to all those responsible for this website. I was born in 1946 and grew up at 1620 Fletcher. We played in the park all year round: baseball, football, kite-flying, etc. I never remember the restrooms in the shelter house functioning in all my years there. I remember the Southside Y Little League having a Fish Fry/Sock Hop there for a number of years in the 1950’s. Bouncin’ Bill Baker was the DJ. I remember hearing of a couple supposedly being kicked out for Dancing the Dirty Boogie. I had no idea what that consisted of, but it certainly captured the imagination of a 12-year old boy!
I was born in 1978 and grew up 1800 block of Woodlawn Ave. So growing up i got to use Finch park in its last year I’ve got many great memories from a young age. Including one of and extremely tall and steep metal slide that was actually quite frightening
I eventually conquered my fear that slide. I was also part of the big change from school 39 old to new. Was excited for the new school but heartbroke about our Park. I spent my 5th and 6th grade year in the new school. But close to the end of sixth grade year our park had still not been rebuit yet. So my good friend Brian wrote a letter to the Indianapolis Star newspaper stating basically that we’d like our Park back. And within just months the park was built. But never compared to the original…. thanks for your story it brought back great memories..
I would love to see more pictures of the park and some of the old William McKinley School 39… that’s actually what led me to your story searching for pictures of 39 .
I used to wade in the pool in that park with the other neighborhood kids back in 1968. I was 5 years old and lived just a few houses down from the grocery store on the corner on Fletcher Ave. The shop on the other side of Fletcher street was an ice cream parlor at that time. My mother would send me down with some change to get a half a pound of bologna ever day from the “baloney man” at the grocery for lunch. Good memories of this area. Found this story looking for the park, so I could find the house I lived in. Thanks for story!
My grandpa Charles E. Williams owned the Regal Market.
My dad and aunt have stories about it, if you are interested.
My aunt and dad can tell you when Kendrick owned the regal market.
We lived at 1722 Spann Ave. until 1973. My childhood home is long gone now. But remember so very well as a young child playing in Finch Park which was located directly in front of home. This was the neighborhood of my childhood. I started school in the old #39 building before it was relocated to its present day site.
Robert Kindrick was my grandfather… my mom says they bought the Regal Grocery from the Williams family in the spring of 1957 and sold it back to them in the fall of 1958.
Travis – I would love to know more about the building! Does your family have old pictures of the grocery store?