It was my co-worker who posed the question. “So, you write about dilapidated properties, right?”

“Yes,” I grinned, “and I’m always up for more ideas.”

Historic Indianapolis appreciates and loves your comments, suggestions, and questions. We are ever-eager to hear your memories and see your photos. We want to hear your stories—Indy’s stories—and share them with others.

So, this time, instead of putting together an in-depth look at one—and only one—property, I thought I could let you—the reader, the lover of history, the resident of Indianapolis—choose. Below are six properties—two residential homes, two corner commercial buildings, one theater, and one residential complex comprising eight doubles. If any of the properties intrigue you, share your thoughts below; I’ll feature the buildings in future Sunday Prayers posts. And, of course, if you have additional suggestions (especially any in the west or south), share them as well!

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

Rivoli Theater, 3155 E. 10th St.

The Rivoli Theater was constructed in 1927, and was designed by architect Henry Ziegler Dietz in Spanish Mission Revival style. Joan Hostetler formerly featured the Rivoli in an Indianapolis Then and Now post in Aug. 2012. The Rivoli was the first Universal Studios-owned theatre in Indiana and was proclaimed as a “new home of happiness for the entire family.” In 1937, Universal sold the theater to Joseph Cantor, who used it for both live performances and motion pictures. Since 1992, however, the theater has been vacant. In 2007, it was acquired by the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., whose mission is to preserve and rehabilitate the property. A public information session concerning the Rivoli will be held at 6 p.m., May 1, at the John H. Boner Community Center (located at 2236 E. 10th St.).

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

1415 S. Olive St.

Built circa 1910, this gambrel-roof home has had the word “foreclosure” attached to it in recent times. Though it has been well-cared for in the past, we all know that a vacant home can sometimes remain just that—empty.

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

3201 E. 10th St.

This property shares a corner, Dearborn and 10th, with the Rivoli Theater. The 1915 Sanborn Map (updated to 1941), dissects the building into five businesses (the front entrances still are visible today). Behind the property were five structures, including three residential homes. Since then, all five buildings have been demolished. Today, this structure sits on an L-shaped lot that consists of two parcels. Both parcels are owned by the Riley Area Development Corporation. Surprisingly, the boarded-up windows and doors are almost cheerful—the sky-blue plywood is bedecked with airplanes.

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

1726 Cottage Ave.

These doubles instantly caught my eye. “Stop the car!” I half-shrieked to my fiancé, who willingly paused in the middle of the street. An early estimate states that the homes were built circa 1922. The homes do not face Cottage, which runs east-west. Rather, they face each other and, according to the Sanborn Maps, “Emily Court” is the name of the grassy patch that separates them. The Maps also reveal that there was once a dwelling at the north end of the complex (perhaps the home of the owner or property manager?). That particular building has since been leveled.

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

2151 N. College Ave.

This sad structure overlooks the corner of College and 22nd streets, one of countless corner buildings that have grown old and forgotten. It was built sometime before 1914, and most likely supplied College Ave. residents with a variety of goods and services. There were three storefronts that faced College, and the upper levels were probably used as apartments or offices (to be determined later with further research).

(Post script: since demolished, circa 2014)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

(photo by Dawn Olsen)

1301 Broadway St.

This Italianate home has been empty for awhile. Unfortunately, in the three years since it was featured, the home has changed little; sawhorses remain atop the gray brick, and bits of scaffolding are anchored nearby. The home—located in Old Northside—could be beautiful once more. It is situated just a few blocks from the immaculate Morris-Butler House, and is across the street from the McKay House (also vacant at this time).


16 responses to “Sunday Prayers: Readers’ Choice”

  1. Beth Stafford says:

    Thank you for featuring these homes. I passed the house on Olive for many years going to/from church. We lived in Bates Hendricks for over 23 years and I was raised there. Bates Hendricks has a unique approach to trying to save these homes stuck in the foreclosure, city-owned or land bank owned cycle. Members of the neighborhood go through street by street to compile a list of the worst offenders. They try to focus on these and, thankfully, with new legislation you can actually work to clean up yards and trash which help to make these much more attractive to purchasers. Last year we bought the home of a former neighbor where I grew up. She was a very special person and her family lived in the home for over 90 years. We are beginning the renovation process to make this a home for another family so they too can build a legacy.

  2. Emily says:

    Cool! Cottage Ave and Broadway St especially pique my interest!

  3. basil berchekas jr says:

    I would only pick the Rivoli and the building on the 3000 block of East Tenth only because I grew up in the east end of of the NESCO area and used to go to the Rivoli for their Saturday matinees, i believe we knew people who used to live in an apartment in that building on East Tenth. the others are outstanding too, especially the houses along the green space and the Italianate “mansion” and the trolley-oriented storefront on College…

  4. mike says:

    I have heard the Rivoli has major roof problems and the roof is first order of business. I noticed that with a post about an Irvington building as well, which included an aerial view of it that seemed to show a huge gap where an air-conditioning unit may have been situated on the roof. What occurred to me is a wild guess that “scrappers” are destroying the infrastructure of a lot of these building by ripping out/off anything they can “recycle” at a scrap yard. Maybe part of historic preservation law should include a requirement for scrap yards to report anyone they feel is bringing in material from protected properties that are vacant, etc?

  5. Tim Nation says:

    1415 S. Olive – we used to live next door at 1409. The house was totally renovated by South East Neighborhood Development in 1992 with new plumbing, wiring, walls and a roof. The put over $80,000 in improvements into it and sold it for about 50K.

    Fountain Square Brewery and the Wheeler building are just a block to the west. Fountain Square’s commercial district is light years ahead of where it was in the 90’s. However, this stretch of Olive is in worse shape – there were no abandoned properties when we were there but now a few along the block and empty lots where houses once stood.

    This neighborhood is so convenient to downtown – you can still get a house for 30K-50K.

  6. basil berchekas jr says:

    wish to stay with this blog!

  7. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    It makes me very sad to see the condition of 1301 Broadway Street. The residence was built in 1872 by Abraham Crum Shortridge (1833-1919), a legend to those of us who attended the high school named for the educator. I wish I had the funds to get my hands on the property and restore it in honor of Shortridge.

  8. Kyle Barnett says:

    This one’s near-north east, and I just caught a glimpse. Either a Tudor-style carriage house or perhaps a commercial building (?) on Samoa Street just south of Massachusetts Avenue. Was on my way elsewhere and didn’t get to really check it out.

    And I’ve always felt that Indianapolis lost so many wonderful warehouses between South Street and I-70 in the last thirty years. I’m sure there are a few warehouses that I’d add to the list (perhaps a few near Sand Street?). Not sure what’s left but I really hope that there can be some cohesion – some neighborhood feel – between the empty parking lots and the UFO that is Lucas Oil Stadium.

  9. Dawn Olsen says:

    I wish you luck and patience for your renovations! I did not know about the approach Bates Hendricks residents use for foreclosed homes. Is there a particular neighborhood association that does this, or a program name? I would love to know. I’m happy that the homes are able to receive some basic cleanup that maintains curb appeal.

  10. Dawn Olsen says:

    I knew you’d be interested in the Rivoli, Basil. It’s probably my favorite on this entire list, too. If you think you know anyone who would be interested in attending the information session about the Rivoli, let them know! It’s this week, on Wednesday.

  11. Dawn Olsen says:

    I’ve heard the same about the Rivoli. Joan mentioned in her Then & Now post that it will cost millions to restore the building. The amount doesn’t surprise me, sadly, as the Rivoli’s initial cost was $250,000 in 1927 (over $3 million today, I believe). And, you’re right, the building in Irvington also has roof issues. To completely restore that building, known to local residents as the Irvington Post Office, it will cost a few hundred thousand dollars. As for scrappers? It’s an interesting thought, but I don’t know. The interior of buildings deteriorate very quickly if there are roof issues. If a small leak isn’t fixed (or if an owner doesn’t have enough funds to properly mantain a property), the problem can grow and become a major issue.

  12. Dawn Olsen says:

    Wow; I wasn’t aware that so much money was put into the property for renovations. That’s amazing. I hope that the home is able to host a family once more. I would hate for the cost of those renovations to be for naught. As for the convenience of Olive Street? My fiance is actually looking to buy a home in Fountain Square; he’s pretty set on finding a property in that area, as it is rejuvenating.

  13. Dawn Olsen says:

    Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll have to check it out. Most of the time, properties I see are “drive bys” as well. I always have to return later, camera in hand, with time to spare. And I would agree with your other statement–that many old warehouses are now gone. It’s not hard to see that Indianapolis is built for the automobile (as compared to being built for the pedestrian). A couple of weeks ago, I actually wrote about a building on Delaware and South. It was once a hugely industrial corner that, by the 2000s, became a parking lot wasteland.

  14. David Brewer says:

    My dad took me to the Rivoli when I was 11 to see Walt Disney’s Fantasia. The real reason we went there is he wanted me to see and hear the theater’s pipe organ, played during the intermission. Quite an unforgettable evening with my pop.

  15. Lisa says:

    There are two homes I used to drive by and wonder about. They’re about a block apart from each other and are gorgeous Gothic homes, apparently vacant.

    The first is next to a gas station on the southwest corner of Emerson and English. There are a huge pair of eyes in the top of the turret, a Halloween touch that I love but seems to have been forgotten long ago.

    The second is just a block north, on the southwest corner of Emerson and Brookville. I thought I saw some new boards go up, but no other signs of life.

    I adore that architectural style and it kills me to see two of them with so much potential.

  16. basil berchekas jr says:

    These are two mansard roof or Italianate farm houses on South Emerson I was thinking about…there used to be one on East 21st at about Dequincy, but was demolished decades ago where two National Homes were later built…

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