Monday, November 29, 2010

Treat Home

Hiram and Isabelle Treat and family dwelled at 335 Whittier Place. Mr. Treat worked as a clerk in the Parry Manufacturing Company in 1910. Mrs. Treat was an active clubwoman in Irvington. Their American Four Square styled home was a common design found in Indianapolis. This house photo is one of many featured in my book Irvington in 1910: A Year in the Life of an Indianapolis Neighborhood. You may order it from

The second photo is of Isabelle Treat in 1910. Both pictures are courtesy of Tawn Spicklemire.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kin Hubbard

Indianapolis News cartoonist Kin Hubbard moved to Irvington in 1907. Hubbard became well known throughout the United States because of a folksy rube he created named Abe Martin. The backwards hill character was centered in Brown County, Indiana and he had many quips about life that early twentieth-century Americans enjoyed reading. Syndicated in newspapers around the country, Hubbard soon started publishing books with Martin's witty jabs at society. Hilton U. Brown, the publisher of the News, encouraged Hubbard to buy a beautiful piece of real estate from him and build a house in Irvington. Hubbard sited the home on a small hill near Emerson Avenue, Pleasant Run Parkway, (not yet built in 1907) and Michigan Street. Hubbard eventually left Irvington as his fortunes increased for a mansion along Meridian Street.

The postcard above was sent from "Emma" to Mrs. Earl Brown of Advance, Indiana on November 1, 1914. Emma was staying at 133 Downey Avenue in Irvington and was renting the "sleeping porch." In a brief note she describes her worries about staying warm in such a room during winter!

Hubbard published Abe Martin's Almanack in 1909. It was his third major publication with many more on the horizon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Backyard fun

The Treat family dwelled at 335 Whittier Place in 1910. In this photo, Alice and Isabel Treat enjoy getting their picture taken in some entangling vines in the backyard. The photo was likely taken around 1910. This photo is courtesy of Tawn Spicklemire.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Children in Ellenberger Park

The city of Indianapolis acquired Ellenberger Woods in 1910 after levying a special assessment on residents in eastern Indianapolis. The tax met with some resistance, but the city prevailed. Noted landscape architect, George Kessler created several boulevards through Indianapolis including Pleasant Run Parkway. Kessler placed the new park in his grand design. Irvington residents have utilized the park for decades. These children in 1922 enjoy a drink from a fountain long removed. This photo is courtesy of Martha Scott (far right).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

South Audubon Road

The Graves Family dwelled at 270 South Audubon Road in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This photo shows two members of the family standing in front of 266 South Audubon Road. You can see the Irving Circle Park and part of 262 South Audubon Road as well. This photo is courtesy of the Stewart Family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Car Repair

Members of the Bowsher family work on the family vehicle in the 300 block of Whittier Place. This photo is courtesy of Roberta Quandt.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emerson Heights

In the early twentieth century, developers designed and created Emerson Heights, a neighborhood just west of Irvington. By 1910, the city built a streetcar line along Michigan Street so that the new residents could easily travel to work downtown. Built at the height of the Arts and Crafts era, the neighborhood is filled with bungalows and American Four Squares. Several of the streets have an esplanade with sweet gum trees providing a beautiful canopy. Many people sought their dream home here. Unfortunately, the developers put in a protective covenant that forbade the sale of homes to Indianapolis's African-American population.

The print for this post came from Leaders in that neighborhood have created a stunning website that actually has the original 1914 promotional book with photos of many of the houses. Be sure to click on "development book-historic photos." I believe that this neighborhood is seeking National Register status and once you see photos of the homes you will see why that should be granted. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bona Thompson Library

The last permanent structure built for Butler University in Irvington came in 1903 with the completion of the Bona Thompson Memorial Library. Named after a Butler grad who died of typhoid fever, Bona Thompson (class of 1897) was the beloved daughter of Edward and Mary Thompson. Devastated by their daughter's death, the Thompsons donated the money for the land and the construction of Butler's library. Mrs. Thompson died before the completion of the structure and Mr. Thompson died shortly after the grand opening. The building today is home to the Irvington Historical Society. This post card was sent in 1910 by Irvington resident William Reynolds (52 Downey Avenue) to Mrs. Edward Price of Shelbyville, Indiana.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Butler University

Butler used to be located east of Emerson Avenue and West of Downey Avenue. Today several post-World War II houses currently occupy the site. Students attended classes in the building. Each time a Butler team won a game, a student or college employee would ring the bell in the tower. This colorized photo was taken in the early twentieth century.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Butler University

Irvington was in financial difficulties after the economic Panic of 1873 swept the country. When a small college called Northwest Christian University moved into the neighborhood, hundreds of students, professors, and families followed, helping to revitalize the community. The board of trustees changed the name to Butler College in honor of the founder--Ovid Butler upon moving to the suburb. The school remained in Irvington until 1929. It eventually outgrew the neighborhood. Most of the buildings were torn down by the mid-twentieth century. This is a postcard view of the campus in the early twentieth century.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scott Home

Harold Scott saw to the construction of this home in 1922 for his family at 5435 Pleasant Run Parkway. Note the beautiful interior shot. Both shots were taken shortly after the construction of the home. Photo courtesy of Margaret Scott.

Graham-Stephenson Home

Irvington's most infamous landmark is the D.C. Stephenson Home. In the 1920s, Indiana and the nation came under the grip of the Ku Klux Klan. The Governor of Indiana and many other politicians fell under the sway of Irvington's most notorious resident. A millionaire, Stephenson added the columns onto the Graham family's home. Mr. Graham had been a prominent minister and his family was greatly respected in Irvington. The house at 5432 University Avenue was photographed for the Indianapolis Star while Stephenson stood for trial in the rape and murder of an Irvington woman named Madge Oberholtzer. The trial became a national sensation and Stephenson's conviction helped to end the power of the Klan in Indiana and around the nation. This photograph was taken in 1925.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Book!

I have just published a new book depicting Irvington in 1910. I have spent several years researching the project and a few more writing it. I wanted to create a portrait of the neighborhood during the peak building-boom of the community. You may either order it from or from me directly. I hope you enjoy it.

Danner Family

The Danner family ran a chain of "five and dime" stores throughout Indiana. Some of the Danners called Irvington home. In this shot, Danner children gathered in front of their 72 North Ritter Avenue home for a photo taken sometime in the late 1930s. Note that the WPA had already widened Ritter Avenue by this point. The picture also shows several homes along North Ritter and Lowell Avenues. This photo is courtesy of the Danner Family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Irvington kitchen

The Scott Family were the first to live at 5435 Pleasant Run Parkway. This amazing kitchen was photographed shortly after the home was built in 1922. Photo courtesy of the Scott Family.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guardian Home

The Marion County Children's Guardian Home opened in Irvington in the 1890s as part of the Progressive Era in American history. Endangered, homeless, abandoned, and neglected children called Irvington home for over one hundred years. The institution recently closed and is now a charter school. Here is a postcard sent by "Roy" to his brother Clarence Carpenter who was living the home in December of 1913.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Overland Auto Dealer--Irvington

The Irvington Motor Company awaits your order. The terms sound quite reasonable. Enjoy your drive! This ad appeared in a short-lived Irvington newspaper on March 26, 1920.

Girlfriends at Forsyth Home

Artist and director of the Herron Art School, William Forsyth (1854-1935), lived at 15 South Emerson Avenue. He maintained a studio at his home at the southeast corner of East Washington Street and South Emerson Avenue. Constance Forsyth, a daughter, went on to become a prominent artist as well. Shown here are a group of Irvington girls gathered in front of the Forsyth home in 1925. They are from left to right: Margaret Cook, Margaret Elrod, Dotty Canfield, Evelyn Forsyth, and Isabelle Layman. This photo is courtesy of Isabelle Layman. The home was demolished in the mid-twentieth century for a gas station.

Lost Irvington--Cross Home

Charles Cross made a small fortune selling real estate in and around Irvington. He and his family dwelled in a large home at the southeast corner of East Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. Cross sold his house for the future site of the Irvington bank around 1912/13. His family then moved into a beautiful dwelling at the intersection of Ohmer and Downey Avenues. Although the quality of this photo is poor, you will be able to see a magnificent home.

Howe High School

Irvington achieved a dream in 1938 with the arrival of Thomas Carr Howe High School. Mr. Howe, a longtime neighborhood resident, was well known because of his tenure as president of Butler University. The neighborhood honored Howe by naming Irvington's first high school after him. Thousands of eastside residents have attended or graduated from Howe. Pictured here is a homeroom class from 1948. This photo is courtesy of Marty Book Powell.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lost Irvington

Some of our heritage has been lost to development. East Washington Street used to be a fashionable address. J. Thompson Layman and his family dwelled in this house at 5731 E. Washington Street. Mr Layman was vice president of the Layman-Carey Dry Goods Company. The Layman relatives owned several homes in Irvington including an Italianate villa less than one block south of Washington Street on Audubon Road. This Washington Street home was eventually torn down to make room for a phone company headquarters.

Rubin Home

Alsace immigrant, Jacob Rubin and his wife Elizabeth Rubin, built this comfortable home located at 352 Good Avenue in 1909. This photograph depicts Mrs. Rubin shortly after the construction of the home. This picture will grace a book soon to be released by me titled Irvington in 1910: A Year in the Life of an Indianapolis Neighborhood. I will post details on to how obtain the book soon. Photo courtesy of Susan Gulde and Chris Capehart.

Hackleman Brothers

Charles Hackleman and his wife Grace dwelled at 28 North Ritter Avenue in Irvington. Mr. Hackleman became a successful engraver and even published a textbook on the subject used throughout the US. The Hacklemans lived in their small cottage for about four years before building their dream home next door at 34 North Ritter. This photo, taken in 1904, shows Mr. Hackleman (far left) and all of his brothers sitting on the front porch at 28 North Ritter. Note the address at that time used be 16 North Ritter. Many addresses changed after the city of Indianapolis annexed the community. This photo is courtesy of Dennis and Sharron McKnight.

School 57

Welcome to my new blog dedicated to the history of Irvington, a neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana. My goal is to showcase historic photos and sites associated with the community. If you have any interesting photos to share then please contact me! My first post begins with a photo of students at School #57 located at East Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. The photo features eighth graders and was taken in January of 1928. The principal of the school was Eileen Cassell.