Courtesy of the Indiana Album, ca. 1911 lantern slide from the collection of Joan Hostetler
This week I showcase two lantern slides that I purchased on eBay of the Progress Laundry Company. Lantern slides were an early form of slides projected onto a wall or screen to an audience. Since many of the fifty or so 4 x 3.25 in. glass slides show smokestacks, factories, and laundry companies, I wonder if the subject of the slide presentation might have been pollution, but the wood box containing the images has no label to indicate who presented the program. [In case I haven’t stressed this enough: Please label your photographs so future historians, genealogists, and catalogers won’t have to work so hard to interpret your history!]
The slides themselves are also not identified, but luckily a sign for Progress Laundry is clearly visible in this view. Owner Roy C. Shaneberger had been in business for several years when he expanded and constructed this “splendid new modern plant” in 1910 at 422-26 E. Market Street (just two blocks east of City Market). Newspaper articles for the next few years indicate that Shaneberger’s savvy marketing skills and introduction of soft-water laundering in Indianapolis quickly doubled his business. The soft-water results were a hit with customers who raved about the whiteness of their garments and linens and noticed that their clothes came home free from “sudsy odor or soap curd.” Progress Laundry employed dozens of washers, pressers, and ironing ladies. Ads promoting the benefits of weekly laundering stressed the time savings, soft water gentle cleaning that was more pure than rain or cistern water at home, lack of soot from hanging laundry outside to dry, and the low cost of only six cents per pound for family laundry. It cost thirty cents to wash a pair of lace curtains, which were carefully measured and dried on felt mats to prevent stretching of the fabric. Also seen in this view is the Carman and Fryer Electrical Engineers Building to the left and two older clapboard houses that were razed within the next three years and replaced with another Progress Laundry building.
Progress Laundry claimed that their wagons went everywhere with no extra charge for the service. Here, some of the delivery men pose with their horses and wagons. Nearly twenty of the Progress horses perished in 1915 due to a tragic fire at C. F. McCorkle’s Arcade Livery Barns at 322 E. Market Street. Fifty horses on the second floor of the stable were burned or crippled and had to be put down, surely causing heartache for the drivers.
After demolition of the Progress Laundry buildings (and much of the block) between 1962 and 1972, the site became a surface parking lot until the construction of the eight-level, 1,720 car Bank One Parking Garage in about 1990. The garage will soon provide parking spaces for the new Artistry apartments and commercial space across the street on the former Bank One Center site. While the trees are lovely, I wish our city would enforce the Regional Center Design Guidelines and require parking garages to to make the street level more pedestrian friendly with shops, restaurants, or offices. Obviously we need more parking with higher density, but city planners and architects solved this block-deadening problem years ago; why is Indianapolis repeating this parking garage silliness in 2013?