Friday, June 22, 2012

The Phelps Family Moves into the Wheeler Home--1954

For the past week, we have been celebrating the centennial of the Wheeler Home (5317 Lowell Avenue).  Clifton and Hilah Drake Wheeler saw to the construction of the home in 1912 and dwelled in the house until 1954.

The Phelps family moved into the Wheeler Home in 1954

In 1954, Robert E. Phelps (1919-2004) and his wife Eva Mae Chaille Phelps (1921-2002) became the next long-term residents.  Mrs. Phelps grew up in Irvington.  Her father's family operated Chailles Shoes, a business that began at 9 North Ritter Avenue in the 1920s and eventually moved to 5622 E. Washington Street.  Mr. Phelps took over the family business and ran it until the early 1990s.  Chaille's Shoes became an institution in neighborhood as generations of Irvingtonians purchased shoes there.  (A future post will be dedicated to this business.)  Mrs. Phelps, as she was called by her students, taught at Schools 58 and 85 for twenty-eight years.

The Phelps family ran Chaille Shoes at 5622 East Washington Street in the second half of the 20th century. Louis Saba, a clerk for Chaille's Shoes stands next to the shoe rack.  He later moved to Las Vegas where he bought a gas station.  

The couple collected antiques and raised their children in the beautifully-sited home.  Mrs. Phelps liked bright colors and painted some of the rooms in the house, including the gallery, in yellows and reds.  They had the reputation of being kind neighbors and were very much interested in the home's history. The family maintained ownership of the property until 2004.

The Wheeler-Phelps Home in an undated photo.  

You may learn more about the history of this home by clicking on the Wheeler Family link below.  The  historic images are courtesy of Michele and Bruce Oertel and Kent Hankins.


  1. Mr. Guide - Thank you for the EXCELLENT recording of the history of my parents' home. I was 9 when we moved there fro Whittier St., just the other side of Elemberger Park. I'm nearly 72 now so, let's see, that makes it @ 100 years! Thank you for the devotion to Irvington's history. It's a very special place. Robert E. Phelps Jr.

  2. Thanks, Mr. Phelps! It has been a blast! I am always searching for more photos and stories! I would love to profile your family from the Whittier years if you have anything. Drop me a note at It is nice to hear from you. Sincerely, Bill