Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5317-19 University Ave--Asbestos Siding

5317-19 is one of the oldest doubles in Irvington. Built in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the structure had many Queen Anne styled features including a porch with a balustrade railing and ornamental spindles. Many families connected with Butler or the Board of Missions lived in the duplex because of its close proximity to both institutions. In 1910, journalist Charles Fuller lived on one side and the Murphy Family lived on the other side. John H. Murphy was a molder while his daughter Mallie J. attended Butler.

In 1940, Mrs. Anna Finch owned the double and hired Ralph R. Reeder & Sons to put on asbestos siding. Mrs. Finch was looking for a way to avoid painting her wood clapboard siding and asbestos tiles were in vogue in Indianapolis between 1920 and 1950. She chose "White Thatch" to spruce up this home. Of course, Mrs. Finch was unaware of the dangers of asbestos. Many homeowners sheathed their houses in this material as it was the "vinyl" of its day.

Although the top image is in poor shape, you can faintly see how the home looked prior to being sided. It used to have a really beautiful porch. It looks like the Victorian features were removed when the asbestos siding was added. Mrs. Finch's home was featured in the Indianapolis Star on February 5, 1940 (page 16) as promotion for the siding.

I have also included a contemporary photo of the house (January, 2011). You will note that the asbestos siding remains seventy-one years later.

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