As Indianapolis expanded, it was necessary for the Indianapolis Police Department to grow and by 1912 four substations had been established. This charming cottage, located at 1117 Prospect Street in Fountain Square, housed Police Precinct Station No. 4. Two uniformed bicycle patrolmen pose on the front sidewalk. (Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company #27561)

According to a report prepared for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1917, the four substations were leased to the city for about $1,000 per year. “Desk men” (possibly the man standing on the step?) were paid $3.25 per day to answer telephone calls. Two of the stations employed four bicycle patrolmen, alternating on twelve-hour shifts. These men, who worked in pairs, answered emergency calls in the area.  The report, prepared by the Bureau of Municipal Research in New York City, recommended moving the substations to nearby fire stations, a move which would save over $8,000 yearly by removing the need for the desk men. It appears that the city followed the advice of the consultants and by 1920 this substation removed to the fire station across the street and was then known as the Fountain Square Substation.

After the police station moved out, the little house once again became a home until it was razed in the late 1920s to make way for this one-story brick commercial building. It housed the Standard Grocery Company in the 1930s and a variety of businesses through the decades. Today the building is home to Radio, Radio, a concert venue featuring top-notch local and national acts. The bar (named after an Elvis Costello song) has a comfortable, smoke-free lounge with a retro vibe. (Google Street View, July 2009)

Do you have cool older photographs of Indianapolis buildings? Let us feature them in this Then and Now column! Send a high resolution scan and any details about the building to Thanks!

2 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: Fountain Square Substation #4 and Radio Radio”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    These photos and narrative really stress Indianapolis becoming a “real” city over the past 150 years…keep up the good work!

  2. Joann JOrdan says:

    I own a desk that was sold from out of the Lincoln Hotel. My father bought it when things were being sold before it was torn down. I have owned it since my fathers death. How can I find out how old this piece is?

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