Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tea Time at the Stokesberry Bungalow


The ladies of Burgess Avenue pause for a tea break in the backyard of Veta Cannavan Stokesberry's home at 352 Burgess around 1944. The leafy retreat provided a perfect respite on what appears to be a glorious sunny Indiana day.

It is a miracle that the Stokesberry home is still standing. A horrific explosion along South Ritter Avenue destroyed three homes and damaged dozens of others in February of 2004. The Stokesberry home sat directly behind the central house that exploded. No one died that night, but one person was severely hurt along Ritter Avenue. The Stokesberry home has since been repaired and new homes now occupy South Ritter.

The people pictured in the historic image from left to right are: Veta Cannavan Stokesberry, May Louiso Markmeyer (her half-sister), Isadora Louiso Cannavan, and Mary Ellen Stokesberry. The young girl (Mary Ellen) seen in the photo graduated from Howe High School and now lives in Hawaii. The historic image is courtesy of Ann Stewart.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Elegant Gathering at the Stokesberry Bungalow


This early color photo reveals an elegant birthday gathering at the Stokesberry Home at 352 Burgess Avenue. Veta Cannavan Stokesberry sits at the head of the table. Her husband, Chester likely took the picture. Sitting to Veta's right are Charles and Hattie Ruhsenberger of 5930 East Washington Street. Across the table are Isadora Louiso Cannavan (324 Burgess Avenue) and in shadow, May Louiso Markmeyer. The occasion was the birthday celebration of the two sisters Hattie and "Dora." In my attempt to make the photo larger, I have lost some of the resolution, but the photo still reveals so many interesting details. It was likely taken around 1945.

The table has a lace cloth over it and Veta Cannavan Stokesberry has pulled out lovely tea cups and plates for the event. You will also note the beautiful candles and delicious looking birthday cake. One of Chester Stokesberry's paintings hangs over the buffet in the dining room. It is also great to see the color of the wallpaper. This wonderful image is courtesy of Ann Stewart.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birthday Gathering at the Stokesberry Bungalow at 352 Burgess Avenue






Sometime around 1937, Hattie Jones Ruhsensberger (1872-1973) and her sister Isadora Jones Louiso Cannavan (1868-1955) gathered in the living room at the home of Chester and Veta Cannavan (1905-1985) at 352 Burgess Avenue. Veta was the daughter of "Dora" and hosted the event. The two sisters had remained close over the years, and they loved to celebrate their January birthdays. Hattie dwelled at 5930 E. Washington Street and Dora lived in several places before moving to Irvington to be near her daughter and sister. Dora worked as midwife and upon her death in 1955, the local newspaper called her "an angel on horseback." She also attended wounded World War One veterans at a military hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. You may learn more about the Ruhsenberger family by following the link listed below.

Chester Stokesberry moved into this two-bedroom bungalow in 1927 with his first wife Marie. The home was only a year old at the time and was likely built by contractors Keith and Effie Stonegate in 1925. The Indianapolis newspapers reported dozens of new bungalows for sale in the Irvington area in the mid-1920s. Most contained a long living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and one bath. Some like this one had a breakfast nook and built-in features next to the fireplace. After their marriage, Veta Cannavan Stokesberry took up residence and the Stokesberrys would live in this house until the 1980s.

Chester Stokesberry (1895-1984) was a jeweler, watchmaker, clockmaker, and an artist. Some of his work appeared at various exhibitions including at the John Herron Art Institute. His paintings are highly collectable in 2011. He specialized in landscape scenes. In the photo you can see two of his works on the walls of the Burgess Avenue bungalow. The Ellenberger Park painting hanging above the ladies in the photo eventually moved to the Ruhsenberger home and is still in the family's possession. The other three works featured on this post recently sold at a local art auction. The scene depicting snow is called "January Thaw." These paintings were completed in 1956.

Be sure to study the black and white photograph. Veta Stokesberry kept a beautiful home and she loved antiques. The exterior photo of the home was taken on July 24, 2011. The historic image and the stories are courtesy of Ann Stewart.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wash Day in Irvington--1948



Many women, no matter their status, spent at least one or two days a week washing and drying clothes. By 1948, technology had dramatically improved with the invention of the electric washing machine, however, the automatic washing machine was yet to come. Most people in Irvington hung their clothes out to dry in the backyard or perhaps in the basement during the winter.

For Helen Hunt, Monday was the day she spent washing and drying clothes for her family. In the top photo, Mrs Hunt stands behind her bungalow at 341 South Audubon Road hanging the newly washed clothes. She was pregnant with her second child at the time of this photo in 1948. In the bottom photo, young Michael Hunt assists his mother with the task. These images are courtesy of Helen Hunt.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Arsonist Destroys Two Historic Garages--Lost Irvington


In the early morning hours of July 14, 2011, an arsonist(s) destroyed two original Irvington garages on Julian Avenue and Hawthorne Lane. Many historic detached garages still exist today, but the numbers have dwindled over the years due to changing standards, neglect, and vandalism. Many of the early structures were built to accommodate one car, most likely the Model T. Over time, Irvingtonians expanded the structures so that their larger Buicks and Pontiacs could fit into the small buildings. Both of the garages burned this summer were in good shape and used by their owners.

The garage shown in this post used to sit behind 81 North Hawthorne Lane until its demise on July 14, 2011. It was in excellent shape and had actually served as the garage for veteran television newscaster, Howard Caldwell's family in the mid-twentieth century. It is very sad that someone has found a thrill destroying part of our neighborhood's heritage.

This picture was taken by photographer Bruce Oertel on the winter evening of February 5, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Small Farmhouse at Brookville Rd.& South Arlington--Lost Irvington






Brookville Road and South Arlington served as the extreme southeastern boundary for Irvington and really for Indianapolis prior to UNIGOV in 1970. The old "Brookville Pike" connected Indianapolis to Cincinnati. Several Indiana towns and cities like New Palestine, Morristown, Rushville, and Brookville grew up along the historic road. The highway predates Irvington by many decades. Several of the historic structures along the road in Marion County have now vanished including the house seen in these photos taken in 1940. Likely built as a tenement home or for a small farm, the house served as a rental by the 1930s.

In 1910 Charles Judkins, a carpenter, lived in the cottage. A 1916 city directory reveals that Edward S. Gue, a farmer, and his family called the intersection home. Another farmer Aaron Miller lived here in 1921. City directories further reveal that 5980 Brookville Road served as home for Fred McCoy and his family in the late 1930s. In 1940, Leroy Hunt and his new bride Helen moved in. The house sat on a spacious lot and contained a grape arbor and plenty of room for their dogs to run and play.

The Hunts rented 5980 Brookville Road for a few years before moving to an Audubon Road home in Irvington proper. These photos are some of the only known documentation of the house because it was demolished for a filling station by the 1950s. Later, a Burger Chef and a Hardees ( in 2011) Restaurant and parking lot occupied the spot.

The images show the home, the grape arbor, the garage and even a small bungalow behind the house along South Arlington Avenue in 1940 (second photo). These images are courtesy of Helen Hunt.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Tree Falls in Irvington--c.1948


This giant tree fell across South Audubon Road sometime in the late 1940s. Note that the street used to be brick. In the background you can see 358 S. Audubon located at the southwest corner of Audubon Road and Beechwood Avenue. Michael Hunt and some of his friends pose atop the fallen tree. This image is courtesy of Helen Hunt.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Helen and Janet Hunt--1961


The Hunt family have lived in Irvington for over seventy years. Helen Hunt, seen this photo, is 94 years old (in 2011) and can recall many stories about the neighborhood. Born in Tipton County, Indiana, she spent her childhood on the Weaver farm near Hobbs. She eventually married Leroy Hunt in 1939 and they moved to Indianapolis where he became a pharmacist. The newlyweds rented a couple of homes on the east side of Indianapolis and lived briefly in Rockford, Illinois. In the early 1940s, they purchased their dream bungalow at 341 South Audubon Road in Irvington.

Mr. and Mrs. Hunt raised their two children, Michael and Janet, in the house. Mrs. Hunt stayed at home with the children while Mr. Hunt worked at Lagg's Pharmacy at State and Southeastern Avenues. Mrs. Hunt fondly recalled shopping at Regal's Grocery in the 200 block of South Audubon and Danner's Five and Dime on East Washington Street. She also frequented Vonnegut Hardware and the Chaille Shoe Store both on Washington Street. Besides being a Girl Scout leader, Mrs. Hunt was known as an excellent cook. She baked a cake every weekend and always had a full cookie jar. Her favorite activity was to go "neighboring." She loved to visit with people and her memories are filled with Irvington families who departed long ago. Her stories and her photos will be frequently presented on this blog. She is an Irvington treasure. I am especially indebted to her daughter Janet Hunt Wilzbacher, who made it possible for me to not only interview Mrs. Hunt, but also to collect some of her photos of Irvington.

The image featured today is of Mrs. Helen Hunt and her daughter Janet Hunt in 1961. They are standing in the front yard of their bungalow at 341 S. Audubon Road. Across the street you can see the small bungalow at 340 as well as 338, 326, and even 320 South Audubon Road. This photo completely captures the love between a mother and a daughter that is still strong fifty years after the picture was taken. This image is courtesy of Helen Hunt.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Howe High School Graduation 1966


Irvington celebrated when Thomas Carr Howe High School opened its doors in 1938. Thousands of proud Howe graduates now live around the world. This beautiful color photograph taken by the Hunt family shows the class of 1966 receiving their diplomas on a beautiful spring Indiana day. This image is courtesy of Janet Hunt Wilzbacher.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Talented Women of 314 N. Graham Avenue



For over fifty years, the talented Kern-Hanger and Stewart women dwelled at 314 N. Graham Avenue. As early as 1907, 71-year old Angelina Allegre Kern and her extended family lived in the house. The 1910 census reveals that the 34-year old widow, Lela K. (sometimes spelled Lila) Hanger as the head of the house. She worked as a "pay officer" and clerk for a local business. Her mother, Angelina or "Anna" still lived in the house. Lela's six-year old daughter Mary Elizabeth shared the house with her 39-year old aunt, Katherine Seldombridge and her cousin 16-year old Beatrice Seldomridge. Much of what we know about the early years of the house comes from a published diary by the grown-up Mary Elizabeth (Ramier) titled My Diary 1916-1922, (Triangle Press, Indianapolis, 1991). Mrs. Ramier was 87 years old at the time of the publication. Her diary is available at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library. Her journal is much of what you would expect from a teenage girl living in Irvington. She laments about her relationship with her grandmother, the boys she liked, and her life at school. She gives some wonderful morsels about life in the neighborhood. On January 1, 1919, she wrote:

So we were walking along Layman Avenue when bells rang, whistles blew, and a cornet blew something. Thus we ushered in 1919.

On September 7, 1911, her mother Lela married Frank J. Richmann. It was a second marriage for both of them and they eventually moved to 26 South Arlington. The elder Angelina Kern lived well into her 90s and recalled her early life in an Indianapolis News (March 13, 1926) article as having grown up in a log cabin fifty miles from Cincinnati. Mary Elizabeth would later go on to Butler, the University of Illinois, and the John Marshall Law School (Chicago).

The next group of women to live in the cottage came when the Stewart ladies arrived in 1912. A brief legal notice on April 12, 1912, in the Indianapolis Star revealed that Alta M. Stewart purchased 314 N. Graham for $2,250. She was a widow and 45 years old at the time of the purchase. The other Stewart women who moved into the home included 23-year old Marie, 16-year old Hester S., and 11-year old Marian P. By 1920, all three girls served as teachers for the Indianapolis Public Schools. Marie, a talented artist, worked at a variety of schools including at Shortridge High School. As a high school student in 1906, she won a competition to design a commemorative plaque honoring Abraham Lincoln. Although it has been moved several times, you can now (2011) see it on display at the Indiana Government Center in downtown Indianapolis. You may read more about the sculpture in Remembrance, Faith, and Fancy by Glory June Greiff. (Indianapolis, 2005)

By 1930, only Alta and Marie remained in the house. In June of 1922, Marian married Edward Huger Carpenter of Charleston, South Carolina. It is unclear at this point as to what became of Hester. Marie remained active in the art world. She was a member of the Sketching Club and she frequently hosted events at her Graham Avenue home. In November of 1913, she and fellow member Roda E. Selleck gave a talk on "Colonial Architecture." At the same meeting, Edith Newbacher presented "The Dutch Farmhouse in New Jersey." The club met off and on at the Stewart cottage throughout the 1910s and 20s. She frequently entered and won art competitions at the Indiana State Fair. The Stewarts would live in the house for 42 years.

The historic photo shows Angelina Allegre Kern standing with her granddaughter Mary Elizabeth Hanger (1903-1994) in front of 314 North Graham Avenue in 1907. The contemporary photo reveals the house in 2011. I am indebted to Jeff Jernigan for the images and research for this story.

John Danner in 1938 along Ritter Avenue


Young John Danner poses in front of his childhood home at 72 North Ritter Avenue in 1938. The federal agency known as the Works Progress Administration had already widened the street and removed the green space in between the sidewalk and the road. Behind him and across the street, you can see 75-77 N. Ritter Avenue. This small double was constructed sometime in the mid-1920s and replaced a single family home. This image is courtesy of the Danner Family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nellie Danner and son John


Nellie Danner poses with her son John in the backyard of their home at 72 North Ritter Avenue. The photo was likely taken around 1936. The Danners had a Five and Dime Store in Irvington and in many other small towns throughout Indiana. This image is courtesy of the Danner Family.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Danner children--1932


Elaine, Louis, and John Danner gather in the backyard of their home at 72 North Ritter Avenue in 1932. Their parents were Guy and Nellie Danner. You can see the rear of the homes along both Ritter and Lowell Avenues. This image is courtesy of the Danner Family.