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White Castle No. 3, located on the northwest corner of Fort Wayne Avenue and Delaware Street, is the nation’s third-oldest surviving White Castle building. The small castle-shaped brick building, and hundreds of others across the country, primarily served small, inexpensive burgers known as “sliders” because the grease helps the love-em or hate-em burgers glide down the throat. Just two years before the Great Depression, this store opened  a wee bit smaller than seen here. Within a few years an addition was added to the back. Located just south of an Indianapolis Public School (Benjamin Harrison No. 2), former students recall that it was torture sitting in class with the smell of onions and burgers wafting in through the open windows.

Indianapolis Fire Department fighting fire, ca. 1950s (Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection, Digital Rights 2010 Indianapolis Public Library)

Indianapolis Fire Department fighting a blaze, ca. 1964. This view looks southwest down Fort Wayne Avenue. (Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection, Digital Rights 2010 Indianapolis Public Library)

This undated photograph, made by Indianapolis Fire Department photographer H. Stevens, documents ladder and engine #5 battling a fire in the two-story frame double located behind the restaurant. Based on the cars and license plate, this was likely taken in about 1964 based on the license plate, but we welcome your observations in pinpointing the date. Burgers are advertised at 12 cents each on the exterior sign.

(Google Street View, 2011)

(Google Street View, 2011)

The restaurant closed on April 30, 1979 after a run of 52 years. The diminutive building then served as a real estate office and most recently housed an Army and National Guard recruiting office. Read more about this White Castle in Nathan Bilger’s article “Preservation Affirmed: White Castle No. 3.”

[Would you like to see your old photographs featured in this Then and Now column? If so, attach a high resolution jpeg or png and any details about the building within our “Say Hi” link in the footer of our website.]

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16 responses to “Then & Now: White Castle No. 3, 660 Fort Wayne Avenue”

  1. Steve says:

    For a family-friendly website, the explanation of ‘slider’ contained herein is probably just as good as any other. However, I’m somewhat certain that the appellation describes not the beginning of one’s association with a given sandwich, but rather more toward the end.

  2. Paul Jablonski says:

    To the immediate left of the White Castle is a 1955 Ford (maybe 56) and to the far left of the photo looks like a 1959 Buick based on the tail lights and fins.

  3. Rebecca Bandy says:

    Interesting picture of a long ago time. As I looked at the pictures, I noticed the demolition of so many building since 1960. However, I see the city still has parking meters on the street. Some things never change in any city…taxes and parking meters ! As usual Joan….brilliant.

  4. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Although I never ate at this particular White Castle, I do have clear memories of the school that formerly sat across the street from it. My maternal grandparents, Stuart Tomlinson and Catharine (Harraman) Tomlinson, attended Benjamin Harrison Public School 2 in the first and second decades of the last century. They went on to nearby Shortridge High School from there. The grade school on the northwest corner of Walnut and Delaware was only a block away from the high school on the east side of Pennsylvania Street, via diagonal Fort Wayne Avenue.
    .
    School 2 was still operating when I was in grade school in the 1950s. My mother would often remind us, “There’s where your grandparents went to grade school,” as we drove by the building on our way north from downtown. Around 1958, a new Benjamin Harrison School 2 was built at Walnut and New Jersey Streets, two blocks east of the original school.
    .
    The original School 2 still stood for a few years after the new school was built at 725 North New Jersey Street, until the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Center was built in the 1960s. At the time School 2 was demolished, the building was nearly a century old.
    .
    Although the IPS Education Center was constructed on the same site as the former grade school, it was given an address of 150 East Walnut Street, instead of 700 North Delaware Street (which had been the address of School 2).
    .
    Today, the newer School 2 houses a Center for Inquiry magnet program. A Bass Photo Company image of the original Benjamin Harrison Public School 2 can be viewed in the Indiana Historical Society’s digital collection here: http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc012/id/8011/rec/1 .
    .

  5. Joan Hostetler says:

    I’d always heard the lubrication was at the beginning of the burger’s journey, and found many online references for that, but I’m sure your version is accurant, too. I’d be curious to know what other Indy folks were told about the slider nickname.

  6. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks, Paul. I’ve adjusted the date to circa 1964. According to this great historic Indiana license plates site, 1964 is the only year in the 1960s that had “INDIANA” at the top of the plate and white type on a dark background.

  7. Rebecca Bandy says:

    That is a very large grade school for back then….! Shame it was torn down…beautiful brick!

  8. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks, Rebecca! I didn’t mention that the Elbow Room building still stands in the distance.

  9. Joan Hostetler says:

    I’ve added the Benjamin Harrison School link to the article. Thanks for commenting, Sharon.

  10. Jim Beeson says:

    Directly to the west of the White Castle at Walnut & Penn was a building that housed the first Howard W. Sams Technical Institute. (Now IT&T Technical Institute). I attended STI (Sams Technical Institute) from June 1964 until July 7th, 1966. It is now a parking lot. They moved the school to 38th and Fall Creek out by the fairgrounds in June of 1965. IT&T is now up on the northwest side of town.(96th and Michigan Road).

    My diet for lunch for almost a year were three sliders, a fry and small coke from #3 WC on Fort Wayne. I think they were $0.12 or $0.15 back then. We parked on the church parking lot across the street on the northeast side of the WC. I worked for H.P. Wasson’s warehouse at Capitol and Michigan street and later at Graham Electronics, where the Convention Center is now, until I graduated in 1966.

    A lot of good memories during those good times.

    I am now retired from Indiana Bell/Ameritech/SBC/AT&T and live in Flat Rock, Indiana. I was born and raised in Beech Grove and attended Sacred Heart Central High School.

    My wife and I now have 15 children and 33 grandchildren and are expecting #34 & #35 at anytime soon.

    Sincerely,
    Jim Beeson
    Flat Rock, Indiana

  11. Dana Hubbard says:

    I loved Howard Sam’s manuals on guitar amps back in the 60’s and 70’s, I never understood anything other than tube electronics though. I got them through Tink Cramer. Graham’s Electronics was on south Penn, so I think you mean where Banker’s Life fieldhouse now sits. I had a friend in Flat Rock who had a record label there; Flat Rock Records. He was in a group in the 60’s called the Lemon Pipers; had one hit, Green Tambourine. There was also a WC on Mass Ave, across from Ralston’s in that little polygon-shaped, now
    vacant lot. feels wrong to pay over $5 now for your $1.50 lunch.

  12. Jim Beeson says:

    Dana,
    Great hearing your feedback on my comment. Terry Porter, owner of Flat Rock Records, lives just down the road on US252 in Flat Rock. He and his daughter have been in the business for years and they also do some movie work. Nice man.

    Graham’s Electronics was still on south Senate Ave, just south of Maryland street, in 1966. I graduated from STI in July of 1966 and started work at Indiana Bell. Got drafted and then joined the US Army. Returned to Indiana Bell in September of 1969. I believe Graham’s moved to the south Penn location around 1969 or 1970 to make way for the Indiana Convention Center that was completed in 1972.

    Getting back to White Castle’s, I still occasionally stop and get my 3-6 sliders, fries and a small coke. My 68 year old heart can still take the punishment. I get them at the WC #? in Greenwood just off I65 south.

    To the good times of Indianapolis then and the good times of now.

    Jim Beeson
    Flat Rock, Indiana

  13. George Starkey says:

    The term “sliders” didn’t originate with the burgers, or their questionable propensities before or after digestion.

    I was told by an old (it was the late 1980s, I was 25, he was in his 80s) gentleman that the term “slider” came from a type of little pet turtle that was popular in the early era of White Castle– I think we call those turtles “Red Ears” now. Anyway, the slider turtles were roughly the same size and shape as the White Castle burgers… so, whether it was kids or adults who coined the nickname for the burger, I don’t know… but it evolved pretty quickly into the less genteel modern meaning.

  14. Anonymous says:

    4

  15. Bob Clark says:

    I will always have memories of my dad pulling alongside this “Castle” one dark, cold and rainy night, and at the time, the street was one way northbound so we were right next to it.
    I went inside with five dollars, enough for a complete “sackful”.
    The glass was all steamed up from the cold rain outside, the warm moist onion-smelling heat inside.
    The jukebox(?) was playing Nino Temple and April Stevens “Deep Purple”.
    Even back then, something made me think I would never forget this particular visit and still love White Castle burgers….(which we NEVER heard called “sliders” till I returned from the army many years later.

    BTW…Dad grew up at 2316 Broadway and went to school with Kurt Vonnegut Jr at the school right behind the house, whereas we lived at 3057 Central, the only brick home on the entire block in the fifties.
    Sure wish pics of those homes might be found one day?
    (The latter was used for social events of the “upper crust” of Broadway Methodist Church in the early 1920’s, according to some local papers.)

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