Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Lost Houses of Ritter Avenue

When the Finch family took the following photos of George Finch in 1929, they had no idea that they were documenting a piece of history. Besides the cute kid in the striped sweater, they also captured 369, 373, and 377 South Ritter Avenue. An explosion in February of 2004, destroyed all three of these bungalows and damaged dozens of others nearby. Although you can only see 369 in two of the photos (far left), it was actually a Sears catalogue home! The other two might have come from a catalogue as well. City directories reveal that all three homes were built between 1923 and 1925. Richard B. Miller, an employee for the Diamond Chain Company, and his family lived in the Sears home. The Bortsfields and Craggs lived in the other two bungalows. Both Rueben R. Bortsfield and Harry C. Cragg worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The contemporary image, taken during the winter of 2012, shows the newer homes constructed since 2004. Note that the only thing that is similar is the placement of the fire hydrant. The historic images are courtesy of Evan Finch.


  1. My father, Bill Bortsfield grew up at 373. He entered the Army in about 1943, married and moved to Wichita KS in 1950 ish. Rube died in 1963, Elsie moved to a home in the 70s. I liked that house. I only remember the Stokesberrys that lived behind them and had a myriad of clocks in their home. Oh, and the Bessenbachs, also on Ritter I believe. One of kids, Art, was Dad's best bud. Thanks for having this page!
    -Connie Bortsfield-Bartlett

  2. Connie, thanks for your comment. I always enjoy hearing about Irvington families. I am always looking for more photos of the neighborhood from all eras! I would love to learn more about the Bortsfields. Feel free to drop me an e-mail at sleeth28@rock.com . Thanks again for your memories! Sincerely, Bill Gulde

  3. My family lived in 222 Ritter at the time this happened. Fortunately the house seemed to suffer only hairline plaster cracks. We were there only 5 years, but loved the neighborhood with its endless supply of interesting architecture, and rich history. It was a shame to lose 3 bungalows, but the situation could have been much, much worse.