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The W. E. Mick Building, also known as the Aquilina Apartments, was a brick structure built in 1910-11 on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and East 30th Street. Realtor and developer William E. Mick hired architect William H. Albersmeier to design the mixed commercial and residential building with five storefronts on the first floor and four second-floor apartments. The flats were large for the era with four and five rooms. The corner location was the site of a drug store for many decades, including Merrill and Alford Drug Store (1910s) and Koehler Pharmacy (late 1910s until at least the 1980s). (Indianapolis Star, November 20, 1910)

Looking west on 30th Street

When this accident scene was documented by the Indianapolis Fire Department in the mid 1960s (1964 or later based on the Ford Galaxie car to the left), the busy Koehler Drugs intersection was also home to the Air Liner Sandwich Shop, a Pure Oil Company gas station, a Westinghouse appliance store, Frances Shoppe dresses, and Raysey Interiors. After John P. Koehler’s death in 1954, the pharmacy was owned by Joseph Felsher at least until the 1980s. In the 1970s the area was also home to Ted’s Union 76 Service Station, Poro Barber and Beauty College, the Seven Star Baptist Church, and the Mini Record Shop. For a closer view, zoom in on the IMCPL image. (IMCPL Digital Collections, Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection)

Detail, 1960s (IMCPL Digital Collections, Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection)

010512 Central east 30th st

Photo courtesy of Tammi Burns.

Today, this intersection hardly has any presence with empty lots on three of the corners. If my memory is correct, a fire broke-out in the Mick Building/Aquilina Apartments in the late 1990s and the charred shell was demolished around 2000. The surviving brick building houses the Unleavened Bread Café, offering soul food meals (breakfast and lunch only), while also hosting occasional bible study classes and church groups. Committed residents of the Mapleton-Fall Creek Neighborhood are working along with the Mapleton-Fall Creek Develoment Corporation to rebuild and revitalize the area.

As always, I love hearing your memories of these neighborhoods and especially would like to find snapshots of this intersection or any other area of Indianapolis.

[Would you like to see your old photographs featured in this Then and Now column? If so, attach a high resolution jpeg or png and any details about the building within our “Say Hi” link in the footer of our website.]

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25 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: W. E. Mick Building and Aquilina Apartments, Central Avenue and East 30th Street”

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Wow, what a difference!! Also, while I think it may have already been gone when this building was built, do you know exactly where Newby’s Oval, the bicycle race track, was. I know it was near this intersection.

  2. Jim says:

    Judging by the cars in the “Before” shot, the photo has to be from no earlier than 1964. The car on the far left is a 1964 Ford Galaxie.

  3. Joan Hostetler says:

    Tom: I’ve seen Newby’s Oval on maps, but don’t know the location off-hand.

  4. Joan Hostetler says:

    Jim, thanks for the car information. I took the 1950s date from IMCPL’s catalog record, but thought that the image had a later feel.

  5. jack wickenkamp says:

    I was there at this time….
    and I was a paper boy delivering the Indpls Times in the pm and the Indpls Star in the am on Central Street from 30th to 34th streets and 30th to 32d respectively. Immediately inside the entrance to the Aquilina was a one-story staircase up which I tossed many a paper and (since we collected each week) climbed many times.
    Koehler’s drugstore offered a favorite root beer for 5cents and a float for a dime from its neighborhood soda fountain.
    At the Pure Oil station on the SE corner, Jessie would pump gas and wipe windshields (no self serve) for around 30cents/gallon. I appreciated how the owner, Jack Lang (sp?) would offer an odd job now and then and would gladly trade “paper boy collection change” for paper dollar bills.
    But how about the Air Liner? This was a small diner where Joe Rangel worked as one of two short-order cooks. In the early mornings before making deliveries, several carriers would park bikes and papers outside the diner and go in to play competitive pinball. The diner “rules” were that you had to order food to be inside. So for years (and for a dime) I got a grilled Danish and chocolate milk served up by Joe Rangel who went on to open Acapulco Joe’s Mexican Restaurant. Joe was a good friend to all us kids.
    I just found this link:
    http://indianapolis.about.com/od/landmarkslegends/a/JoeRangelBioAcapulcoJoes.htm
    Another memory about that intersection is that just north of the Air Liner on Central Street was a Plymouth dealership with state-of-the-art showrooms. I remember sneaking peeks at the new car models which were kept literally wrapped up and under cover in the showroom until the public introduction day arrived. That was a big deal!

  6. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I remember Koehler’s Drugs well from my grade school days at William A. Bell School 60 and high school days at Shortridge. Horstmann’s at 34th and Central and McSoley’s (later, Vestal’s) at 32nd and Central were closer to my family’s home at 33rd and Ruckle, but most of my friends lived near 30th Street on New Jersey, Washington Boulevard, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, making Koehler’s closer to their families’ homes. I’m pretty sure Koehler’s Drugs was still there in the 1980s. Although Koehler’s kept the same name over its many years of existence, it probably had different owners.

  7. Georgia Cravey says:

    Civil rights organizers met upstairs circa 1965-68 trying to recruit people for freedom rides & marches. Lots of Shortridge HS there.

  8. Joe Rathz says:

    I think almost more than any other historic loss the city has seen, losing the neighborhood “corner store” is one of the city’s biggest losses. These provided the glue that held neighborhoods together. Like the General Store in rural areas, trips to these stores were more than buying milk. You would catch up with local gossip, see your neighbors and interact. We don’t do that now with the mega stores that are miles from our homes.

    I grew up a couple of blocks from 49th and Penn and loved going to Hamakers to buy candy and read comic books, buying junk food at Friendly Foods, drinking cold bottled pop while sitting in the barber chairs at Lloyds or hanging around at Kurts Marathon. Great memories. The loss of these little neighborhood “nodes” really took a lot of character out of the old neighborhoods all over the northside.

  9. Michael says:

    The photos from teh fire department would have to have been in the 60’s as the car on the corner is a Ford Fairlane(?) and some of the others look like 60’s cars… Right?

  10. Nathan Bilger says:

    Tom, Newby Oval was near the northeast corner of 30th and Central. According to this map: http://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/u?/HIM,60 there was a “businessmans’ driving” track at the corner, with the cycling track north of it, closer to Fall Creek.

  11. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    The land from the north side of E. 30th Street on the south to the south side of E. 31st on the north and from the east side of Central Avenue on the west to the west side of N. College Avenue on the east became a housing addition known as Boulevard Square about the year 1910. The land directly east of the above rectangle, from the east side of N. College Avenue to the west side of Fall Creek Boulevard became a part of the Jose-Balz Fall Creek Boulevard Addition, also established in about 1910. East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive (as we know it today) did not exist at the time of the Newby Oval. The Jose and Balz families, who have been discussed in earlier Historic Indianapolis Facebook postings, built mansions for themselves in the 3000 block of Fall Creek Boulevard and developed significant tracts of land in Mapleton-Fall Creek and Meridian-Kessler.

  12. Joan Hostetler says:

    Michael…you are right that this is from the ’60s (not the ’50s as the catalog record stated). One person on Facebook identified a 1964 car. Thanks for the gentle correction.

  13. Michael says:

    Well, regardless of the date of the photo, I really really like these kind of posts to the site! Keep up this great work!

  14. David says:

    My father met a guy at the Koehler drug store in the late forties who recommended a dance studio on Meridian to take lessons from. My father ended up marrying the owner, Terry, and I was born a few years later. There was a cafeteria on the south side of 30th Street and just west of Central. My father used to eat there often. I forget the name of it. It’s long gone, but he ate there a lot in the 40s. It was owned by two brothers.

  15. Chris Gross says:

    my grandfather owned the garage at 34th and central behind dr greens office i remeber a candy shop around the corner .It is now a car wash but does anybody have any pictures from 20’s all the way up to 85 on this corner lot

  16. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Chris, Can you describe which corner of 34th and Central you mean and what time frame your grandfather had a garage there? I lived in the neighborhood in the ’50s and ’60s and have driven by it regularly in the years since then. I don’t remember any car wash at 34th and Central, or any doctor by the name of Green, or any candy shop. The northwest corner of that intersection has been Tabernacle Presbyterian Church since the 1920s. The northeast corner is now the Constitution Gardens Apartments and was formerly the Moynahan Apartments and Colonial Apartments before that, which have been there since the 1930s. The southeast corner has been the Spiritual Awakening Church in recent years, but was originally a drugstore. The southwest corner is the parking lot for the Raphael Health Center.

  17. Juanita Bumphus says:

    I remember this because when I was in High school in the 60’s a couple of my friends lived with their mother in one of the apartments upstairs. We use to go over there. I love these flashback pictures. Thanks

  18. Jeff Scott says:

    Wow this is cool to find. William E Mick was my grandfather. Thanks for the history. He was an awesome man and the best grandfather and friend a guy could have. I miss him.

  19. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Greetings, Jeff,
    .
    There were at least three generations of persons in the same family who were named William E. Mick. The one who built the W. E. Mick Building at 30th and Central was most likely your great-great-grandfather (rather than your grandfather).
    .
    The elder Mick was born on July 15, 1833, and died on May 12, 1912. That William E. Mick’s son, Edward Mick, had a son named William E. Mick, who was born on December 21, 1891, and died around July 4, 1964. As this William E. Mick had a daughter who married a Scott, I’m guessing the William E. Mick born in 1891 was your grandfather.
    .
    The William E. Mick who was (probably) your grandfather would have been only 18 years old when the W. E. Mick Building was constructed. Although your grandfather was involved in the real estate business later in his life, he wasn’t yet in 1910.
    .
    I came across a 1912 article about the elder William E. Mick’s death, when I was researching the intersection of 30th and Central for information on the relatively short-lived Newby Oval. The Newby Oval was a bicycle racetrack on the east side of Central Avenue, which had been across the street from the W. E. Mick Building site. The owners of the Newby Oval went on to found the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
    .
    The 1912 article about W. E. Mick gives some great information about his life. If you are interested in having a copy of that newspaper article, I would be happy to send it to you. If you will send an e-mail to historicindianapolis(at)yahoo(dot)com, and put “W. E. Mick” in the subject line, I will send the newspaper article to you via e-mail attachment.
    .
    Sharon Butsch Freeland

  20. Garren P. Gebhardt DO says:

    Ms. Freeland, I am so excited to come upon this website. I bought the Jose Balz house on Fall Creek and am searching for any info I can get my hands on.

  21. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Jose and Balz were the surnames of two distinct families. The patriarch of the original Jose family in Indianapolis was Nicholas Jose (1827-1897). The patriarch of the original Balz family in Indianapolis was Peter Balz (1806-1885). The families were related by the marriage of Lydia Jose (1872-1968) to Peter F. Balz (1871-1942).
    .
    Your home at 3038 Fall Creek Parkway was the residence of Peter F. Balz, the son of the original Balz immigrant Peter. The house next-door to you at 3048 Fall Creek Parkway was the home of Oscar Alfred Jose (1879-1962), the son of the original Jose immigrant Nicholas. Oscar Jose was Lydia Jose Balz’s brother. The house at 3058 Fall Creek Parkway was also the residence of a relative, Lydia and Oscar’s sister, Josephine Jose (1862-1930), who married Charles H. Adam.
    .
    The brothers-in-law became business partners in a real estate firm in the early years of the 20th century. They developed a number of tracts of land around town and built a number of homes, mostly single-family. The hyphenated name of “Jose-Balz” is a part of several legal descriptions in Indianapolis. Jose-Balz was also the name of an apartment building at 3002 Fall Creek Parkway, which at one time was considered a prestigious place to live.
    .
    The Jose-Balz Company was first located in the Lemcke Annex Building downtown and later at 1160 Fairfield Avenue, which was alongside the Monon Railroad. In addition, Oscar Jose was a partner in the Jose-Kuhn Lumber Company at the Fairfield Avenue location. Today that land is owned by the Indiana State Fair Commission.
    .
    Besides the original surnames of Jose and Balz, descendants wtih surnames such as Childs, Dunlop, Lacy, Moore, Pohlman, and Rhodehamel resulted from the marriages of daughters. There are Jose and Balz descendants alive today.

  22. Garren P. Gebhardt DO says:

    What a Christmas present. (I got the e-mail on Christmas Eve. Do you know of any photographs? What a hoot. One of my clients is named Rodohamel?????

  23. Rita Kohn says:

    Sharon, is the original Peter Balz the founder of Union Beer Brewery in 1870 with Conrad Sponsel?
    Brewery closed 1879
    what information do you have about the brewery and why it closed–what Peter did after the brewery closed
    .
    thanks for any help here–if you email me at rkohn@nuvo.net I can explain more about my inquiry & interest in Peter Balz brewery
    Rita Kohn

  24. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Rita,
    .
    Yes, Peter Balz Sr. (1806-1885) was the owner of the Union Brewery. I have never seen anything in print as to why the brewery closed, but I can hazard a guess. The Balzes and Sponsels lived next door to one another on Madison Avenue, just north of the street that was then called Dunlop and is now Parkway. It’s about 1300 South. The brewery was behind their homes, facing Dunlop. Their homes were directly across the street from Peter Lieber’s Brewery (which was on the west side of Madison Avenue between Downey and Dunlop), so the competition must have been keen. In city directories of the 1870s, as well as on the 1880 Census, Conrad Sponsel’s wife is listed as a widow. That means Conrad Sponsel, Peter Balz’s intended business partner, died almost immediately after they became partners. In the mid-1870s, Peter briefly had another partner named Henry Baas. By 1879, Peter Balz must have decided to throw in the towel. He would have been 62 or 63 years old in 1879. His will was written in 1881, and he passed away in 1885. The 1870s was called the “Great Depression,” until the events of the 1930s took on that name. I will send you an e-mail, so that you can reply to me with additional information about your interest.
    .
    Thanks,
    Sharon

  25. Greta Binette says:

    Hi Rita, I have a small bit of info regarding the Balz Sponsel partnership on the Brewery. I’m a descendant of Conrad Sponsel. The brewery began in 1870. Conrad Sponsel died in 1874. It has been my understanding that upon Conrads death Balz sued his widow for the Sponsel half of the business.

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