JAMES HOUSE, T. L. JAMES, PROP., 65 N. ALABAMA St. The building occupied by the James House is a substantial three story structure 45×50 feet in dimensions, with a two story addition 36×50 feet, containing on the first floor a spacious and pleasant office, parlors, dining room, kitchen and culinary department, saloon, washroom, closets, etc., and on the other floors. 22 hand-somely furnished sleeping apartments and guest chambers. Mr. James has been engaged in the hotel business since 5872, at which time he was located at No. 65 South East St., removing to his present location in April, 1877. Mr. James is a native of Muskingum County, O., and was born in 1811. He resided on a farm until he was 18 years of age, when he removed to Kentucky and from thence to Cincinnati, where he was employed as a ship carpenter until 1851, when he invested his means with a company consisting of 52 persons in the construction of a vessel designed for a trip to California. Owing to the failure on the part of some of the members of the company to fulfill their obligations, the vessel was sacrificed at New Orleans and sold for $12,800, the actual cost having been about $57,000. Mr. James resided in New Orleans for three years, when he came to Indianapolis, subsequently returning to the South, but locating permanently in this city in 1855. He was engaged in the marble business for 14 years in company with his brother prior to embarking in the hotel business, as above noted.
The above is from an 1883 book on Indianapolis Commerce– a description of the little known James House hotel, located at 65 (later 111) North Alabama Street, about one building north of Market Street. At the time, it was located across the street from the Hay Market area of the city market. To the east was the Shover carriage works, and to the southwest was the then-site of the county jail. As mentioned in the clipping, the James House opened in 1877, and lasted until sometime between 1894 and 1897. Mr. James seemed to be an interesting fellow. Also interesting is that the hotel proprietor is often listed in city directories as Anna James–perhaps his wife?
In 1897, it had been replaced by the Hanna Hotel, which was in a new, or at least remodeled, building on the same site. By 1914, the Hanna Hotel too was gone, and while the Sanborn map labels the building’s second and third floors as a hotel, the city directory does not list any hotel at the address. However, by 1923, the building was listed as the Hotel Oakley. The site of course would later become Market Square Arena.
The James House in the 1887 Sanborn map
By 1898, the James House was replaced by a new building containing the Hanna Hotel.