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photo by Ryan Hamlett

Location: West Washington and Harding Streets
Named for Herman Lauter, Furniture manufactuer
The former home of the H. Lauter Company is now condominiums on the city’s near westside.

Herman Lauter was a successful furniture manufacturer who founded the Lauter and Frese Furniture Factory, which later became the H. Lauter Company, at the corner of Washington and Harding Streets.  It was the largest furniture company in the city at the time and made an extensive line of office desks, ladies’ desks, center and dressing tables, art dressers, chiffoniers, washstands and music stands.

A patent diagram for a H. Lauter designed typewriter desk c. 1894

A patent diagram for a H. Lauter designed typewriter desk c. 1894

Lauter was born near Berlin, Germany and moved to America just before the Civil War.  He was robbed on the trip over, landing in New York with no money.  Having already learned the trade of wood carving, he began making small pieces of furniture and delivering them to customers on his back.  He arrived in Indianapolis around 1880 and started a furniture company on Meridian Street.  When his original company was destroyed by fire, he opened another company on Massachusetts Avenue, but it, too, was destroyed by a fire.  He then opened another shop at Washington and Harding streets, where the condominiums stand today.

H. Lauter factory on the 1927 Baist Atlas of Indianapolis

H. Lauter factory on the 1927 Baist Atlas of Indianapolis

In addition to his successful furniture business in Indianapolis, he was an active civic leader and worked with John Emmerich–the name behind Emmerich Manual High School– and helped make manual training part of the local high school curricula.

2 responses to “What’s in a Name – H. Lauter Lofts”

  1. Tim jenkins says:

    We have one of his rolltop desk wondering the value

  2. Lyn says:

    As one of his actual descendents, I’d like to add my two cents on what stories have been passed down about Lauter. First off, from the stories I was told, he was part of an assassination attempt against the German Kaiser to keep WWI from happening. However, when he was caught, and because of his high ranking status, the worst punishment that the Germans could give him would be to send him to America with no money. In America, he would buy the pieces of wood, craft them, and sell them to buy more wood. This eventually expanded into what was known as the Lauter Furniture Factory. When he died, I believe the business was passed down to his sister where according to my father, “she messed up the whole situation,” and ended up being forced to close the factory. I’m glad that he can be remembered not just from my family, but by others too, who can admire his work for years to come.

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