Barnes Avenue
Location:  North Indianapolis
Albert A. Barnes, president, Udell Works

Albert Barnes was a businessman who owned land in the area around Barnes Avenue.  He donated the land and money in 1889 to the church that would become Barnes United Methodist Church.

He was born in Stickbridge, Vermont, February 14, 1839 to Jospeh and Eliza Simpson Barnes, one of 10 children. When he was five, the family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and lived there until he was 10.  The family was nearly destitute, and Albert was working at 6 selling candy and peantuts.  At nine he began working on a horse ferry near Holyoke until a flood destroyed the ferry.  He also worked at sawmill in Winchester, New Hamsphire.  At 12, he worked in a wool factory.  By 16, he was one of the overseers of of the factory.  He father’s health deteriorated and he became the chief wage earner for the family.  He moved his family to a farm in New Hampshire.  After starting the farm and working it for one year, he moved back to Springfield to study the early science photography.  He traveled throughout New England and kept a studio ion Broadway in New York and in Providence, Rhode Island.  In 1860, Barnes was 21 and moved west opening a photography studio in Rockford, Illinois.  There, in 1861, he married Abby C. Clayton and moved his studio to Beloit, Wisconson.  There he was drafted, but because of his heavy family responsibilities, he hire a substitute to serve in his place.

Looking up Barnes Avenue, near 25th Street

He left his wife to run his Beloit studio, while he went south to photograph war scenes in Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tennessee.  On his way back in 1864, he stopped through Indianapolis and opened a gallery on Washington Street. He ran the gallery and studio until 1867.  He ended his photography business and and started a commission business at the site of Block Building.  This led him in 1882 to purchase Udell Works, one of the city’s preeminent furniture manufacturers. He became a director of the new Union Trust Company.  In 1901, he helped purchase the old State Bank and organized the Columbia Bank.  He also led in the reestablsihment of Franklin College. He helped construct the Claypool Hotel and was a its vice-president.  He and his wife had two children: Lena and Nellie, both of whom died young.   His wife died in 1917.

All photos courtesy Sergio Bennett

6 responses to “What’s in a Name: Barnes Avenue”

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Albert himself appears to have died in 1928. Both he and Abby are buried in Section 1 Lot 43 in Crown Hill. Thanks for this information.

  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    These are very interesting vignettes! Also always wondered about the names Udell and Rader as well…in North Indianapolis, south of what was the Armstrong farm (they also owned the Indianapolis Ice Company, and “Armstrong Park” eventually became the Woodstock Club…)

  3. Kassie Ritman says:

    Love learning little “diddies” about our beautiful town! Thanks, really enjoy this blog

  4. sandra cook says:

    i am trying to research a church at 9th and camp I pass by it often so i am going to find out the history I do not know the of the church denomination but i would some info if u have it

  5. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Hi Sandra, I am not personally familiar with that church. I recommend going to the Indiana State Library to check their clipping files, or stopping by the church itself, if it’s still active.

  6. Anonymous says:


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