In about 1867 David Macy and his wife built a house at 558 N. Delaware Street for their only daughter Caroline and her husband Volney T. Malott, who had lived with the Macys since their marriage in 1862. But after a year the older couple missed her so much that the mere one-block walk between houses seemed too far. So they moved into their daughter’s corner home and built her family another nearly identical house next door. The homes remained in the family for over sixty years. Today the brick dwellings are long gone and the site serves as parking for the 1976 Sherman-Minton Federal Building.
Both men were prominent in their fields and contributed much to Indiana’s development. North Carolina native David Macy (1810-1892) grew up in Wayne and Henry Counties, Indiana, and at a young age won election to the Indiana legislature. He served on the Indiana Supreme Court and worked tirelessly to improve transportation in the state, promoting the canal, railway companies, and turnpikes. Local newspapers referred to his son-in-law, Volney T. Malott (1838-1921), as the Dean of Indiana Banking. After his father’s untimely death at a young age, Volney knew that he had to earn his way and began his financial career in his teenage years as a bank clerk. He eventually became president of Merchants National Bank and Indiana National Bank and helped organize the Union Trust Company as well as several railroad companies. Many boards benefitted from Malott’s guidance, including Crown Hill Cemetery, the Indianapolis Board of Trade, and the Indianapolis Art Association.
Indianapolis Star reporter Agnes McCullough Hanna wrote about the houses in her March 16, 1930 article “David Macy’s Home Built at City Limits in 1868.” Hanna, the daughter of well-known Indianapolis preacher and charity worker Rev. Oscar C. McCullough, wrote articles about dozens of houses during the 1920s and 1930s, profiling family members and the history of the dwellings, most of which had a date with the wrecking ball. Hanna stated that the corner house was built in about 1867 and its twin to the south in 1868. She credits Wilmer Christian as builder and contractor for both brick Italianate houses, but the credit should probably go to his company, Shover and Christian, well-known contractors who completed the Benjamin Harrison house and built the impressive Bates-McGowan house. The brick structure in the background is the old Shortridge High School building number two which housed the Caleb Mills Auditorium. The tower in the distance on the right belongs to the old Indiana School for the Blind. Visit Find A Grave to see a circa 1890 photograph of patriarch David and Mary Ann (Patterson) Macy with their daughter Mrs. Volney T. (Caroline) Malott and family in front of 536 N. Delaware Street.
The Malotts raised six children in their house, which was a busy social gathering spot for teas, recitals, and dinner parties. The Malott children were son Macy Malott, who also became a banker; Mary Florence (married Woodbury T. Morris, businessman); Caroline Grace (Edwin H. Forry, banker); Ella L. (Edgar H. Evans of Acme-Evans Milling Company); Margaret “Daisy” P. (Paul H. White, electrical engineer), and Katherine (Arthur V. Brown, lawyer/banker/real estate). As was customary for wealthy residents of this era, usually two Irish or African-American maids occupied the servants rooms near the kitchens of both houses.
These commercial photographs by the Indianapolis Engraving Company show the interior of the Malott house. The furnishings and format of photographs displayed on the office bookcases date the images to about the early 1920s. Volney T. Malott died in 1921 and his wife Caroline in 1925, so perhaps the house was photographed during a time of transition. Note that the post-Civil War house has been modernized with electric chandeliers and the decor, which would have had over-the-top wallpaper and Victorian bric-à-brac cluttering the tables and mantles, has been freshened and updated with light-colored walls. The large portrait in the center photograph appears to be of Volney T. Malott. After David and Caroline Macy died in the 1890s, their only grandson Macy Malott moved into their corner home. By 1937 both houses had been demolished and a gas station had replaced the Malott’s house. As was the pattern for the city, the remaining family members moved north away from the city center as their childhood homes were swallowed up by commericial buildings.
Researchers can now read Agnes McCullough Hanna’s Indianapolis Star articles about Indianapolis houses from the comfort of their homes thanks to Indiana Landmarks and the Herron Art Library. A set of the articles from the Indiana Landmarks Wilbur D. Peat Collection was recently scanned, researched, and cataloged by Deedee Davis of the Herron Art Library. The full set is available online: http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/cdm/search/collection/ILWDPeat/