The old Tinker homestead, looking north from 16th Street, formerly Tinker Street

Once upon a time, before there was a thoroughfare of any name or form, much of current day Talbott Avenue (within Herron-Morton Place) belonged to Samuel Henderson, first mayor of Indianapolis. A substantial portion of this land was acquired by the William Tinker family, circa 1850.

An 1870 map labels that same tract of land “W.H. Talbott, a.k.a. Washington Houston Talbott, husband of Elizabeth Coram Tinker Talbott. 100 plus years ago, the local geography was replete with namesakes of these early land owners. What was once Tinker Street became 7th and finally 16th Street. North of 16th, Illinois Street was once named Henderson Street. The street (no longer in existence) that ran east-west between Pennsylvania and Talbott, and situated half-way between 16th and 17th, was Coram Street; and flanked by Pennsylvania and Talbott where 18th stands today, was Houston Street.
The earliest listing of any street bearing the name Talbott appeared in the city directory of 1885; the location of “Talbott Avenue” described as: “from Seventh (16th) to Exposition grounds (19th) first east of Penn.” One may presume that since the land belonged to the Talbott family, the correct spelling of the avenue has two t’s. Why so many misspelled signs? One theory of the missing last ‘t’ malpractice blames the creation of the Talbot phone exchange; another popular theory: simple human error.

The appearance of confusing signs alternately indicating ‘street’ and ‘avenue,’ seem to have commenced with the formal change from the original ‘avenue’ to ‘street’ from 15th northwards “…by ordinance No. 56 in 1912. Then ordinance No. 130 of that same year changed its name from 16th street north back to Talbott ‘avenue.’ The block from 15th to 16th thus remained as a ‘street.’”

To add further confusion, either artistic license or lack of an editor launched the “Talbot Street Art Fair.” Or maybe that was a clever future branding specialist at work? Whatever the case, the spelling of the popular fair does not match the street (or in this case, avenue, on which it is held.) We’ll give them a pass on calling it “street” in the title, since its early geographic location was, in fact, south of 16th in the alley.

Whatever the case, enjoy your next Talbott Avenue outing and the variety of its signs; who knows—maybe there’s a “Talbutt Road” sign yet to be discovered.

10 responses to “TALBOTT AVENUE, not STREET”

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Henderson probably sold the land to Tinker when he left town for California in the Goldrush of 1849, He apparently never came back. Thanks for all the other names too. I’ve always wondered which Talbott went with Talbott Street.

  2. Chris Harrell says:

    Thanks so much for this. After 9 years of walking past the legacy street sign at 19th & Talbott Avenue I’ve wondered and wandered our street / avenue pondering this. Good to know I live on TalbotT Avenue, and ordinances support my presumption.

    Glad to know that the Talbot Street Art Fair mispelling has some info on it too…

    loved reading and learning about Elizabeth Coram Tinker Talbott and WH Talbott etc.. thank you!

  3. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Most welcome; and anytime you have a question, you can always type relevant words into our search bar and see if you come up with anything! Cheers!

  4. Betty Sciscoe says:

    We lived in the 1900 block. In maybe 1920, it was a double, two-story but each side was made into apartments and was on the west side of street had garage. If I looked out of back window, I could see the parking lot and broadcast tv station channel 6 or 8 . This was almost 50 years ago!!!! Please email back with info and pictures of it inside and out!!! Thank you Betty. 317-627-2422

  5. Kirk Mattioda says:

    I lived at 1849 Talbot St as a young boy (5), in late 60’s. Is the current Talbott St spelled with two t’s the same area? Thank You.

  6. Tiffany Benedict Browne says:

    Indeed, it is. Talbot was often a misspelled version of Talbott due to a phone exchange that had only one t. The area was developed by the Talbott family, with two t’s, so any instance of it having only one is just human error.

  7. Rebecca lovelace says:

    I lived at 2137 talbott late sixtys next door to the black curtain and across the street from the hippie house it was called hippie village back then

  8. Steve Denny says:

    John Merryman Talbott moved from Kentucky to Indianapolis. Family owned the Talbott Tavern in Kentucky. Talbott with 2 t’s comes from long line of Talbott’s descending from Maryland, England in 1600’s, back to Ireland as far back as 1400’s. Gertrude Sherman Talbott married my great grandfather Fredrick John Denny in Indianapolis, then their son, my grandfather, was named after Gertrude, Talbott Denny. My father was Talbott William Denny, my brother was also Talbott Denny, and my wife and I named our Son, Talbott Denny… the 2 t’s still carrying on!

  9. claire says:

    What year did Talbot street officially change to Talbott? How long was Talbott street signed as Talbot? Wasn’t Talbott Village once Talbot Village as well?

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