Indianapolis was home to three orphan asylums at the beginning of the 20th century, including the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum. When this Penny Post was mailed in 1909, the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum was located at 4107 E. Washington until it merged with the German General Protestant Orphans and the Evangelical Lutheran Orphans homes in 1941.

Postmarked: Indianapolis, IND., AUG 16, 1909 – 2 PM

Aug. 15th
This shows only a small portion of the “Home.”
Cottages back.
My Division is marked with X.
With love
Orphan1909_backAddressed to:
Miss Myrta Ware
West Va


This 1941 Baist Atlas Plan map shows the 4107 E. Washington location of the Indianapolis Orphan Asylum. (image: Indianapolis Sanborn Map and Baist Atlas Collection, IUPUI)

A penny for your thoughts … what historic philanthropic organization do you think has made a big difference in Indianapolis?

17 responses to “Penny Post: Indianapolis Orphan Home”

  1. Amanda Grube says:

    Re: A penny for your thoughts … what historic philanthropic organization do you think has made a big difference in Indianapolis?

    Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana has a very rich history. I would love to hear about their beginnings and how far they’ve come in Indianapolis. 🙂

  2. Susan Kraeszig says:

    That’s interesting. I grew up at 25 N. Chester. We used to cut through that lot to walk to Christian Park. Can’t remember the name of the place it used to be – some sort of lodge where they would have parties. Later they built a Steak n Shake in front of it on Washington St. Now it’s a car parts store. I never knew about the orphan’s home there.

  3. Mike Hoffmann says:

    That used to be where the Sahara Grotto used to be. The Steak and Shake was on Washington and the Grotto was further back. I had relatives that lived on Gladstone Ave. I also had no idea of the history of that area.

  4. Ashley Haynes says:

    I’m glad we helped you learn something new!

  5. Bill Laut says:

    Interestingly, all three orphanages were on Indianapolis’ east side, near the train tracks. Reason? The “Orphan Trains” which ran from the east coast cities such as NY and Philadelphia and were taking orphans out west to work in the Great Plans, ran on those tracks. So, it made sense for the Indianapolis orphanages to locate in the same general area, near the tracks.

  6. Karen Wazny says:

    I have a picture of my grandfather standing outside the orphanage with his seven children. They were left there during a bitter divorce between him and his first wife. The first wife came and claimed the six older children but left the youngest one. When my grandfather remarried he went to get the youngest boy before he was put up for adoption.

  7. Angela says:

    Can you tell me where I could find the orphanages records? Many of my relatives ended up in this orphanage due to poverty and parents dying of tuberculosis. So large pieces of my heritage are missing to me.

  8. Rachel says:

    Angela, the Indiana Historical Society has records of this orphanage in its collection of the Children’s Bureau of Indianapolis materials. Here’s a link to the collection guide:

  9. Paul Boat says:

    Once again, thank you for your wonderful articles. I am looking at a 1908 Baist map and noticed that the Evangelical Lutheran Orphan Asylum is the one on Washington, so I am assuming that, after the merge, they used the Lutheran’s already extant facility?


  10. MARLENA says:

    Wasn’t it the Sahara Grotto?

  11. Larry Watson says:

    Rachel, Thank you for the link. I was born in Indianapolis and was taken to one of them when I was 5 or 6. I’ve wanted to learn more for years. I’ll check the site out and hope for some info.
    Again, Thank you for all you’re doing. Clearly, there are a lot of us who want to know more.

  12. Janet Lee says:

    I too am trying to find my records of when I was in the German General Protestant Orphans home. I was there between the years of 1957 to 1960. If someone out there knows of how I can get these records please reply..

  13. Janet Lee says:

    I am also looking for my records from the German General Protestant Orphans home. I was there from the time I was 5 till 7 years old. Please let me know of resources to find this information.

  14. Michal says:

    Michael Duke, my mother and I used to live across the street from the orphanage. In late40’s early 50’’s.
    What was the name of the first street going West from the orphanage. As mentioned we lived on that street across from the play yard of the orphanage. There were no house between the street in question and the orphanage

  15. TIFFANY bOWMAN says:

    My grandmother and her six siblings, last name of Wells, were taken there in 1913. Their mother died of Tuberculosis and their father, a member of the Gliggy Bluks, abandoned all seven children and left town. It’s taken many years of research and DNA proof, but we finally have our story. Thank you for this post and the photos!

  16. Tiffany Benedict Browne says:

    Whoa. That is quite a history; so glad to be part of reconnecting dots, and filling out the story! Best to you and yours.

  17. Fran Moffitt says:

    Is the Lutheran Orphan Home the one which had a fire and their graves and headstones are at Crown Hill?

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