Local butcher Milton Pouder ambled a few blocks south to his butcher shop on East Washington every day from North East street, at the corner of New York. He lived in a house on the second lot south of New York street on the west side of North East Street from approximately 1858 until 1890. And the last dozen or so years there must have been stressful. It seems he may have rented, rather than owned the property, at least for some of those years, and ran into a particularly hardcore landlord.
The property in question, listed as 12 North East Street in 1858; as 60 North East Street in 1862; 144 North East Street in 1865; and finally, 228 North East Street from 1898 forward, might have only been home to this butcher through all those years and more, had not the lot become embroiled in some sticky financial dealings with local businessman, Warren Tate.
Tate moved to Indianapolis from Lawrenceburg, Indiana towards the end of the Civil War and built a three-story factory and mill on South New Jersey, just north of Maryland Street. As time went by, he amassed quite a collection of real estate in Marion County–and wealth. His name appears in multiple lawsuits through the years–mostly disputes over money and property. This propensity to file lawsuits, and his general demeanor, earned him the nickname “War,” short for Warren. Which leads us to the small war, or at least, unseemly battle involving the property at 228 North East Street. While not all stories are consistent about which real estate dealings with Mr. Pouder had Mr. Tate exasperated and indignant, this particular property became a symbol of Tate’s ultimate victory. The saying “All’s fair in love and war,” may evoke an eye-roll in this particular story. This war, as with any, yielded casualties. And in this war, it was Love.
Local realtor William Love already disliked Warren Tate when he decided to use his position as a realtor to hit Tate where it would hurt him most: in the pocketbook. Under question in an 1878 court case of Tate vs. Pouder was the valuation of a 15.5 acre tract of land near Southport owned by Milton Pouder. That land was to play a role in compensating Tate for debts owed him by Pouder. While some appraisers valued the property at $400-$500 per acre, William Love claimed it was worth $900 an acre and had joked to friends that he should say it was worth $1000 per acre, because he did not like Mr. Tate. As it happened, Love’s business partner was Tate’s brother-in-law, Jacob Piatt Dunn, (the father of noted historian, Jacob Piatt Dunn, Jr.). Tate’s sister, Harriet, married Dunn in 1837, and both Lawrenceburg native families ended up living in Indianapolis by the 1860s.
By the mid-1870s, Tate moved to Chicago, married and set up a home there. He left his brother-in-law’s firm in charge of his vast real estate holdings. Not long before the 1878 trial, Love and Dunn’s firm had gone bankrupt and lost Tate about $30,000, and there was still, understandably, some bad blood over that. Not long before the 1878 case went to trial, Love had the audacity to brag that “if Warren Tate comes up in the office again and abuses Jake Dunn, I’m going to whip him.” Word of this made its way back to Tate–this wasn’t such a big city at the time, after all–and it added insult to (financial) injury.
Reports vary, but after Love publicly testified about the higher property value, that would be twice as costly to Tate, the two had an exchange outside the second-floor courtroom of the Marion County Courthouse. The terse words and scene ended when Tate awkwardly pulled a pistol out of his jacket and shot Love. Twice. The nearby courtroom of Judge Holman was cleared, creating a makeshift triage center as William Love’s blood oozed onto the courtroom’s table and floor. Love’s brother, Samuel, and son, John (one of the city’s earliest art instructors) were called to the dying man’s side, as were his wife and daughter. It was thought it would be best to get him home, so he was put in the back of an express wagon headed north on Delaware. The jostling ride proved far too difficult on his struggling system and he was transferred to a stretcher and carried the rest of the way to his home at the corner of Pratt and Delaware, where he died approximately half an hour later.
Tate was taken to jail, where he remained the next few months, until his trial. Despite public outrage, Mr. Tate was acquitted of the murder charges and set free to live the rest of his life, such as it was. He still had money, yes, but his name was synonymous with murder, greed, and prostitution. In the course of the trial, he was questioned at great length about his wife, who had formerly run a house of ill repute, a.k.a. “boarding house,” next door to his manufacturing business. She sold the house and the pair moved to Chicago and married, ostensibly, away from the judgment of the locals who were familiar with Jennie Daily.
The acrimonious case between Pouder and Tate went on for years, through multiple appeals, more dodgy real estate dealings and partial payments. At one point, Pouder had transferred real estate to his step-daughter so that he would not have to hand it over to Tate. In February 1890, the Tate v. Pouder case was again affirmed, and only a year and a half later, a building permit was filed on October 8, 1891 for Lot 1 on New York Street for $6300 by Warren Tate. Surely it goes without saying that the walls that warmed Pouder every night for almost 30 years were not going to be the same for Tate. A 1930 Agnes M’Culloch Hanna article reported that sometime during the many years war between Tate and Pouder Tate had promised: “I will put my kitchen in that man’s parlor!”
The architect Tate hired, Charles G. Mueller, reportedly made his floor plan do just that. An article a few years after the house was built talked about how brilliant the home was throughout with costly furnishings and nothing lacking in the bright surroundings. “War” died on March 10, 1896, aged 71, having converted to Catholicism just days before he died. Helen Jennie Daily Tate, the Madam turned wealthy Mrs. Warren Tate, inherited $150,000. She only lived another 3 years, before dying of Bright’s Disease. Mrs. Tate reportedly directed that proceeds from the sale of her house should go to support children of the neighborhood.
Whoever owned it, the expansive home became a rental property until 1961, when Mr. and Mrs. Cecil L. Willis purchased it with a $3000 loan from a friend. The house had been advertised for sale numerous times through the years, and luckily survived until the Willis family purchased it and moved in with their 6 children. Because Mr. Willis’ father was a contractor who had built homes, he felt up for making many repairs himself. He shared stories of how he secured necessary components from the plethora of historic buildings being razed in the early 60s. He replaced roofing on the tower from copper roofing ripped off the Marion County Courthouse as it was razed and found wooden sheeting of the same era as his home from the old New Jersey Street Methodist Church being torn down, which he used to replace tattered sheeting between the rafters beneath the old copper.
The one reminder relic, easily overlooked, that you can still find at the front of the house, just left of the walkway, is a stone block engraved with the initials, “W. T.”
Imagine living in a city filled with inspiring architecture. Livable art. That’s what Indianapolis used to be, and what we could be again. We really need a design review process for all architecture in the city, beyond just the boundaries of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. Without “IHPC,” we would not likely have the priceless historic fabric that we do. We are so lucky this beauty is still standing. Don’t miss it as you speed south on East Street.