Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chaille's Shoes Operated During Much of the Twentieth Century

Howard L. Chaille (1890-1963) opened his first shoe business, a repair shop, in the 1920s at 9 North Ritter Avenue.  In 1935,  he began selling shoes and moved into the Tudor-Revival shops at 5622 East Washington Street.  Generations of Irvington residents purchased shoes from Mr Chaille.  His business became lucrative enough that the family moved into a charming bungalow at 832 N. Campbell Avenue.  His wife, Lola M. Chaille (1899-1975), helped to raise their children.  One child, Eva, would grow up to become a teacher and marry Robert E. Phelps.  Mr. Phelps took over the operation of the shoe store in the mid-twentieth century and ran the business until the early 1990s.  Loyal customers kept the store open longer than most independent shoe stores even as people began to flock to the suburban malls for their clothes.

Today's historic images, likely taken around 1985, show Chaille's Shoes towards to the end of its life span in Irvington.  Next door, you can see the A La Cheri Beauty Salon and the McCleish Dance Studio (click on the link below to more about this business).  A photo, likely taken around 1960, also shows the interior of the shop.

Robert Phelps, the son-in-law of Howard Chaille, took over the family business and ran it during the second half of the twentieth century.  The man in this photo has been identified as Louie Saba, a skilled cobbler for Mr. Phelps.  

East Washington Street shops circa 1985

East Washington Street shops on June 26, 2012

The contemporary image reveals that the present generation is busy improving East Washington Street. The facades of the shops are now protected by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission and the corridor is being transformed into more of a destination with new street lights, park benches, brick walkways and more.  Chaille's Shoes is the home of Edward Jones Investment Group in 2012.  Next door you can see two other thriving businesses:  Geneva Hair Studio and Homespun.  A future photo will be posted to document the transformation of the street that is ongoing as I type this post.

The historic images are courtesy of Kent Hankins.


  1. Louie Saba was not just a clerk, but a skilled cobbler. As a child I wore prescription fitted shoes and he made the alterations for them

  2. Hi Steven, I am so glad you wrote me a note. I have changed Mr. Saba's occupation from clerk to cobbler.

  3. I have some shoes in my attic that may have come from here

  4. I have some shoes in my attic that may have come from here

  5. Robert E. Phelps was my grandpa. I grew up going to his shoe store, getting a gum-ball for a penny, and getting fitted for shoes. He loved his family and Irvington (& his dog Irving). I am glad to see him remembered on your blog. He was a great man, and I miss him very much.
    -Bob Phelps

  6. Hello, Mr. Phelps. Many people from the neighborhood still fondly recall your family. Thanks for your comment! I love the name of his dog!!