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Bluff Road begins in the 1900 block of S. Meridian Street and  angles southwest creating a wedge-shaped parcel. Long ago a two-story frame flatiron building was constructed on the land and through the years it housed a hardware, drug store, a rowdy biker bar and strip club, and even a church before its demolition in the late 1980s.

1927, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

1927, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

Luckily, Indianapolis Power and Light captured the corner in 1927 and again in 1936 when the company documented a electric pole consolidation project. In the 1927 view, a sign above the corner entrance reads “Cut Price Drugs.” As early as 1910, pharmacist Charles W. Schwenzer operated a drug store at this site. Newspaper ads reveal that the store had a soda fountain and leased space to a doctor. After Schwenzer’s death in 1924, his son-in-law John P. Hermann managed the store until the late 1920s. This view looks south on S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road is seen to the right. Note the trolley tracks in the middle of the street and the line worker high up on the pole in front of the store. Although not visible in this view, the Belt Railroad tracks run east and west just south of the drug store.

1936, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

1936, Courtesy of IUPUI University Library, Indianapolis Power & Light. Co. Collection loaned by Deedee Davis

By 1936 pharmacist Merrill G. Christie had purchased the drug store and spruced it up with a paint job and modern signs. His business was first known as Christie and Weddle, and he and partner Wilson N. Weddle ran a hardware in the back (1907 Bluff Road) and the pharmacy in front. By 1945 Weddle moved on and the hardware only lasted until about 1950. Christie offered retail drugs, smokers’ supplies, cosmetics, ice cream, and cherry coke at the soda fountain. By this point the railroad tracks had been elevated. A Shell gas station sat across the street and a sign guides motorists to turn onto Bluff Road (also known as State Road 37A) to head to Brown County. Christie’s Pharmacy was a popular neighborhood destination until the 1960s. By the 1970s, the building became a notorious bar named Kings Country Club. The biker bar/strip club was owned by Dave Baker and it lasted until the 1980s.

1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, IUPUI University Library

1913 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, IUPUI University Library

 

Google aerial view, 2001

Google aerial view, 2001

 

Google Street View, July 2011

Google Street View, July 2011

Oddly the building was then occupied briefly by a church prior to demolition sometime between 1986 and 1991. Today the triangle-shaped lot barely seems large enough to have housed a thriving business block that anchored this corner for over 80 years.

All of us who contribute to Historic Indianapolis.com appreciate your comments and memories. The dates and facts are rather bland without personal memories that breath life into these places, so please feel free to comment below or on Facebook. 

33 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: S. Meridian Street and Bluff Road”

  1. Jason says:

    When I think of Bluff road I think of the Janie show or Cowboy Bob. Weren’t their studios on Bluff Road?

  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    Wish to see more of these (also know this corner…barely remember when south Meridian and Bluff Road were state routes…south of here, Meridian was also known as “Three Notch Road”…

  3. KurtL says:

    The WTTV studios were down the road some at the intersection of Sumner Ave and Bluff Rd. I drove by there last week and the abandoned structure is looking pretty forlorn.

  4. dana hubbard says:

    Indeed this was the site of a “rowdy” biker bar, although more typical than notorious for the era. I played drums there in the mid to late Seventies and at the time its most redeeming feature was a stage for the band fronted with actual chicken wire! Just like “Roadhouse” or more like a low-rent version of Bob’s Country Bunker.
    -dh

  5. Joan Hostetler says:

    Dana (or anyone), I would love to add other photos of either the interior or exterior of the place through the years. Also, does anyone remember the exact year that Christie’s Drug Store closed, when Kings Country Club opened, and when the building was demolished? I am missing several Indianapolis city directories and have not had time to go to the library.

  6. robert carey says:

    Than you very much for your work. Our Society would like to share that on your photograph , unseen, on the other corner was one of the last One- Room Schoolhouses, still in the city.

  7. Joan Hostetler says:

    Robert: What was the name of the one-room school?

  8. scotty says:

    South of there is the cemeteries. The roads were probably split to accommodate them.

  9. johnnie says:

    I grew up at 1248 s Illinois st I’ve been in that neiborhood all my life .I love seeing these old photos and would like to know were I can find more of them to browse thru .my family has been there for a very long time .I used to also play at the old concord center .pleas if u can give a some info were to find more photos I would love to look at them .maybe some from s Illinois st and Kansas st were I grew up at . ThNk u

  10. Joan Hostetler says:

    Johnnie, There are many sources for photographs in Indianapolis such as the Indiana Historical Society (particularly the Bass Photo Company Collection), the Indiana State Library, and the digital collections posted by IUPUI’s University Library. Finding images from residential neighborhoods away from the heart of the commercial area is challenging as these are more likely snapshots in personal collections. This is why I’m coordinating a project to scan personally-owed photographs of subjects such as houses, streets, businesses, churches, schools, etc. to make obscure photos available in an online community digital album. Join our Facebook page (“Indiana Album”) to see a sampling of images collected to date (we’ll launch a web site catalog soon).

  11. Charles T. Sherman says:

    I’ve driven. That area of town forever! Great history lesson ! Thank YOU!!!

  12. Laura says:

    Hi! According to Census records, my family lived on a farm on Three Notch Road from 1900 through at least the 1930s (no luck finding anyone in the 1940 census). An Uncle’s obituary notes that he lived “3 miles south on Three Notch Road”… Depending on the census, the other roads near were Southport and Saylor.. Can you give me an idea where this is? (I’m from Ft Wayne, so not real familiar with Indianapolis, but I do know of Southport Rd 🙂 … ) Thanks much!!

  13. basil berchekas jr says:

    Apparently this would be around Hanna Avenue or south of there, on what is now known as South Meridian Street. South Meridian Street was formerly known as Three Notch Road (early pioneers marked the route with three hatchet notches on trees to designate it. Apparently it eventually connected to Maux Ferry Road further south, which connected to the Ohio River around Harrison or Perry counties, I think..

  14. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Three Notch Road was the name by which a portion of what is now South Meridian Street was formerly known. It was the stretch of Meridian Street that’s between Troy Avenue on the north and County Line Road on the south. The boundary between Center and Perry Townships is Troy Avenue, which was at one time Indianapolis’ city limits. After portions of Perry Township were annexed to the City of Indianapolis, Three Notch Road was renamed South Meridian Street.
    .
    I have an old map of the area that shows the names of landowners along Three Notch Road who owned multiple acres. If your family had a farm, then they undoubtedly had acreage. They may be listed on the map. If you want to tell me your familly’s name, I’d be happy to see if I can find their property. The map does not have street addresses, since it was out in the country at that time, but I can probably approximate a modern day address.
    .
    If you would prefer not to give your family’s name here, you can send an e-mail to historicindianapolis(at)yahoo(dot)com and put Three Notch Road in the subject line.

  15. Laura says:

    Thanks for the responses! I believe Frank Doehring is the Uncle who owned the land. His brother Nicholas died in 1899 – he’s the obituary I referenced. Thank you for any assistance!!

  16. Laura says:

    Thanks much!

  17. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Laura,
    .
    It appears from the 1931 Wagner map that your family’s property was between Griffin Road (on the north) and Stop 11 Road (on the south) and on the east side of the street. Three Notch Road is now called Meridian Street. The address would today be in about the 7600 block of S. Meridian Street. The properties on S. Meridian Street are all commercial, but the area east of it, which would have been part of your family’s farm, is a housing addition called Meridian Manor.
    .
    Here’s a link to the 1931 Wagner map: http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15078coll8/id/1079
    .
    Here’s a link to a 2012 aerial view of the area: http://binged.it/1rRZtyi
    .
    Hope this helps.
    .
    Sharon

  18. Chris Parsons says:

    Further up the road at 500 S. Meridian was the Sports Arena, and I’ve been trying to find some info about it to no avail, and wondered if anyone here has any information about it?

  19. nancy capps says:

    I moved to 1900 south talbott avenue in early 1967. I walked to Christie’s rx at that time and within a few months they were having close out sales and soon closed their doors.

  20. HP says:

    I know this is an old thread. but I have a question about Bluff, or what used to be on Bluff and Hanna. It is Bluff Park now, but according to old aerial photos there used to be a structure near the corner of Bluff and Hanna, where it stood is now the parking lot of Bluff park. The baseball fields had been baseball fields for quite some time, in a different layout though. I am trying to figure it out and that’s how I found this article. Anyone remember? I think it was there until sometime between 1971 and 1992.

  21. 3cankeepasecret iftwoaredead says:

    I chuckled when I read that “Dave Baker” owned King’s Country Club. Here is an interesting secret known only by a few: Dave managed the bar {along with his wife}, but he didn’t own it. A notorious 1% biker club really owned it, but they all had felonies and couldn’t by law hold a liquor license, so they paid Dave to be the front man {put his name on the license}. This goes on all the time, it is nothing unique in the world of bars {especially biker bars}.

  22. Chaz Schwenzer says:

    My Grate Grandpa owned the drug store first

  23. Brian says:

    There was an elementary school at the corner of Bluff and Hanna (now a park); Back in the late 1960’s, the St. Roch School CYO basketball teams used to practice there.

  24. DICK nEED says:

    Louis Need was the doctor in the back of the pharmacy in the early 30s and he built the brick office across the street and moved in there in the mid 30s. there was a dentist Robert Guedel in the back of the building also. There was a Shell station on the north west corner = you can see the outline of the Shell sign. to the right in the original picture.
    The trolley turned around on the southwest side of Pleasant Run by the tavern.

  25. Anonymous says:

    5

  26. Anonymous says:

    4.5

  27. JANIS Mathes salentine says:

    I remember going to, as I knew it by (Christie Drug), To the soda fountain in the late 1960s.

  28. Christy says:

    Chaz, My Grandmother and my aunts all worked there. They lived right up Meridian St in the 1800 Block. I remember going to Christie’s Drugstore so much as a young child.

  29. about 1980 says:

    I’m Dr. Marvin Christie, a son.. I started sweeping the floor and washing dishes there in 1939. The contents of the store were sold at auction in 1972. Carter (?) leased the store a year later and I collected the rent for King’s Country club every night at midnight,when he had the money. The effort was too much for Dad at his age. Carter then leased the business to the ” Bow-Wow-Lounge”. Mr. Indianapolis, the city’s champion weight lifter, was killed there in a knife fight a year later and the lounge was closed by the city. We sold it a short time later to a church.

  30. Glory-June says:

    The roads, actually, were there before the cemeteries!

  31. Glory-June says:

    Yes, it was an elementary school and a source of great frustration to me, since I do a lot of research on buildings constructed by the New Deal, which this one was! I began a considerable boy of research in the early to mid 1980s, and discovered in a newspaper article the opening of this school at Hanna and Bluff. When I went down to scout it out, sadly, I discovered only its footprint, a large gravel rectangle on the corner. I just missed it! This was in 1982, I believe. Over time I watched as this barren corner became, at first, just a playing field or two, then more elements, such as a shaded picnic area.

  32. Glory-June says:

    The building was still standing, abandoned, when I moved to the neighborhood in the late 80s. Loved it and was greatly dismayed when it was demolished only a few years later. It had such wonderful possibilities! No evidence of that Shell station remained; however, across Meridian (on the east side of it) just a bit north near Adler was a charming abandoned gas station from the 20s or 30s, one of those brick ones with a canopy. That, too, was demolished a few years later. It must be a brownsite as presently (and for a few years now) the property is fenced and has pumps inside running constantly. There are no signs to identify what’s going on.
    I’d wondered about that little brick office building (which would have been just south of the gas station) for years, thanks to Dick Need for clearing up that it was a doctor’s office built in the 30s, which is just what it looks like. Not inside, alas–that’s all been changed.

  33. Susie Osborne Cook says:

    Are you Dr. Marvin Christie? My Mom was Barbara Ray Osborne so I am related to all of the rest of the Ray’s. Mamaw and Papaw Ray’s house on Adler across from the old coal yard was my idea of Heaven. I spent a lot of time at your parent’s drug store because so many of my family worked there. Bonnie used to weigh me on the postal scales once in a while. My Aunt Jane was in a club with your sister Margie. I went to one of their meetings when it was at your parent’s house. We had ice cream sundaes. Dr. Need was our family doctor. So many happy memories. Susie Cook

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