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 1609 N. Delaware Street

From Thornton-Levey Stationary, 1929

Invisible lines string events, places, people, past and present all together—like a floating necklace or a story without a definitive beginning or end. Of course, there are many properties within the city and neighborhoods capable of captivating the imagination, one within Herron-Morton Place came to our attention some years ago, prior to its renovation a few years ago This was also prior to the removal of a mysteriously parked shopping cart atop its front porch, lassoed down, rodeo-style by neighborhood do-gooders at 1609 North Delaware Street.

Originally built between 1887-89 for a manager of the New York Store, the Henry Thornton family moved into the home in 1890 and remained until after 1930.

Same building, on North Illinois, 2011

So what? Turns out, Henry Thornton was president of the Thornton-Levey Company, a manufacturer of stationary products and blank books. (Any writers out there with a love for Moleskin notebooks? Perhaps they piloted an early version?)

The commercial space for that company still stands in the 600 block of Illinois, now home to Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf. Coincidentally, among the list of that firm’s clients is the Indiana Museum of Art, which started life a mere block from the Thornton home, at 16th and Talbott Avenue. Within those same walls once adorned by the IMA collection of its time, back when it was still all known as John Herron Art Institute, art patrons, artists, and perhaps some book makers(?) of the future are being educated and cultivated at Herron High School in 2011.

And while the IMA found its new home off 38th & Michigan, Mr. Thornton’s final remains rest across the way in Crown Hill Cemetery. Life’s journey beckons each person down a unique and individual path. Think about it: all the steps you take in your life may replicate parts of previous paths of others, but your total journey will always be as unique to you as your fingerprint.

The next time you make your way up Delaware–and we highly recommend walking it, to take in some of the gorgeous Victorian and other era architecture– consider: how many moccasins, Victorian boots, clopping horse shoes, buggy wheels, Civil War soldier’s boots, bare feet, early bicycle wheels, first automobiles and every other possible means of conveyance have crossed the exact same latitude and longitude.

Though you may not easily see it, I promise, it is all connected somehow. We welcome you to share if you have a connection to this story.

Final resting place of Henry C. Thornton, Crown Hill Cemetery

2 responses to “Let’s Play: Connect the Dots, Indianapolis”

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Thanks for adding the plot at the end, and for the entire story. I too enjoy discovering these kinds of connections and being reminded that those who have gone before us were just as alive and in the midst of community as we find ourselves to be. I don’t have an immediate connection to Mr. Thornton, but frequently drive and/or bicycle by both his home and his grave and now I’ll know I’m doing so.

  2. Anna Rees says:

    Hi! I love this! I am doing research to find out as much as I can right now about an astrologer/psychic who lived in Indianapolis and in Terre Haute in the early 20th century. She is listed in a 1906 Indianapolis directory at 330 N. Delaware; sadly, that’s a parking garage now. I wish I knew what her home looked like! If you have any pictures from that area and time, I would love to see them.

    I found my own piece of history about a year ago near my apartment complex near Raymond & Keystone: a token from 1940s Texas from a “house of ill repute.” I like to speculate that some WWII soldier who’d been through TX on his way home had it in his pocket and threw it on the ground so his lady wouldn’t find him with it! 😀

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