Monday, July 30, 2012

Butler University Women's Dorm and Miss Cotton--1921

Butler students boarded in houses throughout Irvington.  Some rented rooms from local families or in boarding houses.  Others dwelled in fraternity or sorority houses.  The college provided a dorm for women who wanted to live on campus.  Evelyn Butler served as the matron of the facility for years, but in 1921 she took a year off.  Miss Sarah E. Cotton served in her place and inaugurated a new system of governing.

Sarah E. Cotton wore many hats for Butler.  Besides helping the young women in the dorm, she was also the personal assistant to the president of the university.  She was, by all accounts, a beloved figure.  She is pictured here in 1921.

The young women were required to attend mandatory dorm meetings every six weeks.  The elected "proctors" helped to manage each floor.  Just before Christmas break in 1920, the young women hosted a dinner as a fundraiser for victims of the Armenian Genocide.  They raised sixty dollars for the relief fund.

In May, Miss Cotton invited the soon-to-be graduating seniors, their parents, and guests to a private dinner in the dorm.  Butler officials also attended.  The young women had grown close to Miss Cotton and thanked her for her service.  They said of her, "she is loved by every girl who has been under sympathetic care."  (Butler Drift, 1921, 31)

Although the women's dorm is now long gone, you can imagine the gatherings, the music, the studying, and the fun that took place in this lobby.

The lobby of the women's dorm at Butler University in 1921.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

A New Address--A Moving Experience

Many of Irvington homes along East Washington Street have been moved.  As the desire for commercial development expanded, homeowners had an opportunity to make some money.  Unfortunately, several houses fell to the wrecking ball over the years to filling stations, pharmacies, and parking lots.  Some neighbors saw another option of moving the house to the back of the lot or another location entirely.  In 1918, Mary A. Black, a widow, lived in a very large Victorian home on the northeast corner of East Washington Street and North Hawthorne Lane.  She had been renting rooms to people over the years and at some point she must have been approached by a speculator who saw her corner as an opportunity.  In 1919, the large home was moved from its location at 5318 East Washington Street to 15 North Hawthorne Lane.  While it was not a far move, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to raise the home off of its foundation and turn it to face Hawthorne.  Mrs. Black continued to rent rooms.

15 North Hawthorne Lane used to face East Washington Street (shown here in 1924)

Phi Delta Theta Home at 15 North Hawthorne Lane in 1924

Throughout the 1920s, Phi Delta Theta fraternity members lived in the house.  After Butler moved out of Irvington in 1928, the home reverted to being a private residence. In 2012, the current homeowners fell victim to a damaging fire.  The home is currently being repaired from that event.  The vacated corner on East Washington Street hosted a filling station for several decades.  In the 1990s, the lot became the site for medical offices.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alpha Delta Pi Home--1925

Butler University fraternities and sororities usually looked for homes to rent in the Irvington area for their chapter houses.  In the early 1920s, the Alpha Delta Pi sorority members moved into 5356 Ohmer Avenue.  They had sixteen members in 1925 although it is unlikely that all of the young women lived in this home.  Harriet Jaehne served as the President.  The home was likely built in the early twentieth century and is sited on a large shady lot. The young women had an ideal location just two blocks from the campus.  The dwelling is still standing in 2012 although it was radically enlarged and altered in the 1990s.  This image was taken in 1925.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Butler Tennis Match and a Lost House--1924

The tennis courts for Butler University used to sit on the southwest corner of University and Ohmer Avenues.  In this shot, taken in 1924, a member of the team prepares to return a serve.  He is facing north.  Near him, you can see 5317-19 University Avenue.  That home is still standing.  Across the street, however, like a ghostly image, you can see the former home that used to sit on the northeast corner of University and Ohmer Avenues. (5326 University Avenue)  It has been missing for at least sixty years.  The Disciples of Christ purchased the corner and removed the house to add a wing on to the College Board of Missions sometime in the 1950s.  The house appears to have been a large Queen-Anne styled home.  More research is needed to determine who dwelled in it.  Pictured in this photo is Julius Sagalowsky, who was the star player for the team in 1924.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beautiful Street Lights Used to Glow in Irvington

As this photo can attest, Irvington used to have really beautiful streetlights.  This picture was taken in 1968 and shows not only the light but 27 South Downey Avenue as well.  John and Dorothy Thompson lived in the home then.  I have included a nice shot of the interior of the home also taken in 1968. The woman in the photo is Dorothy Thompson.

I can only imagine how lovely the neighborhood must have looked with these streetlights.  The Pleasanton section of Irvington still retains the beautiful lights.  The historic images are courtesy of Sue Thompson.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mann Home Restored

Kudos to Joe and Cassie Alexander for the beautiful restoration of the Mann Home (c. 1895) at 352 Lesley Avenue.  William Mann and his wife Phoebe (sometimes spelled Phebe) lived in the home in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Mr. Mann, listed as 47 in the 1900 Federal Census, was a carpenter.  Mrs. Mann was 39 and stayed home to raise their children, Charles, Orval, Goldie, and Andia.  Lesley was called Green Avenue until the city annexed Irvington in 1902.  The Manns appear to have been the first to dwell along that avenue.  Like many large homes in Irvington, it was eventually divided into apartments.

Joe and Cassie Alexander recently purchased the home and have begun a complete renovation both inside and on the exterior.  Like many homes of our day, previous owners had sheathed the dwelling in vinyl siding.  Each generation thinks they have figured out how not to paint a home.  Vinyl, as a product, appears to have not been as durable as its older brothers, asbestos and aluminum.  Today's generation is banking on concrete fiberboard.  The verdict is still out on that product.  The Alexanders decided to remove the red vinyl siding and restore the beautiful wood clapboards hidden from view.  The result is stunning.  I can not bestow enough accolades on this couple for their part in restoring Irvington's heritage.

The Mann Home clad in red vinyl siding in the spring of 2012

The Mann Home on July 15, 2012.  The wood siding has been preserved and restored!

An inviting front porch

The Alexanders commissioned a company to build wooden storm windows.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quadruplets or at Least Cousins: Four Similar Irvington Homes

Sometimes walking around Irvington is like connecting the dots.  You will find variations of an architectural theme from many different eras.  By 1926, there were few lots upon which to build in central and southern Irvington, and those who did find a lot were usually constructing smaller bungalows.  I am not sure if they are related, but four homes in the area are remarkably similar and may have been purchased from a catalog.

In the summer of 1926, the Indianapolis Star ran a small ad in the real estate section for a:  New three bedroom, Dutch Colonial and garage; arranged beautifully; handsomely decorated; near Irvington Golf Club.  That home was 347 North Graham Avenue.  South of Washington Street three similar homes went up during the same time period.  Although you will note slight differences between the homes, 5715 Oak Avenue, 5925 Julian Avenue, and 57 South Bolton Avenue look remarkably similar to the Graham Avenue home.  The Oak, Julian and Bolton Dutch Colonials went up at the same time as the "handsomely decorated" home on Graham.  It appears that the homes were specifically designed for a narrow city lot.  Both the Graham and Julian addresses are in a densely populated area while the Oak home sits on a much larger lot.  It would be interesting to know if the same contractor built all four.

The Mikesell Home at 347 N. Graham Avenue in 2012  (1926)

The Hestle Home at 5717 Oak Avenue in 2012 (1926)

Moore-Readle Home at 5925 Julian Avenue in 2012 (1926)
The Weers Home at 57 South Bolton Avenue in 2012  (1927)

Forty-two-year-old Lacey V. and forty-one-year-old Ida May Mikesell were the first owners of 347 North Graham.  Mr. Mikesell was both a plumber and electrician and operated a shop at 205 South Audubon Road.  Their two sons, Clarence and Claude both lived in the dwelling as well. The home was valued at $7,000 in 1930.  William H. and Luella J. Hestle moved into their Dutch Colonial on Oak Avenue in 1927.  Little is known about this couple.  Mr. Hestle was a dentist, but Mrs. Hestle is listed as a widow by 1930 and no longer living in the house.  Edward H. and Mary Moore, both thirty years old in 1927, were the first to call 5925 Julian Avenue home.  Their daughter Rosemary and Grandmother Mary Menefee lived with them.  They also had a boarder named Lois Hornacker, a private servant for a nearby family.  Mr. Moore was a city detective.  The home was valued at $8,000 in 1930.  Harry T. Weers (1882-1949) and Phoebe Weers (1878-1928) dwelled at 57 South Bolton with their two adult daughters, Gladys and Bernice.  Both young ladies were in their early twenties and employed.  Mr. Weers was a salesman.  The family only stayed in the house a short time before relocating to Ohio.

Sears Catalog

Sears Catalog

Standard Catalog 

I have included three separate ads that have similar plans and features to these four homes.  You can be the judge to see if they match.  Homeowners often upgraded, downgraded, flipped the plans, and added to the plans.  More work is needed on these four modest yet charming homes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Family Reunion--Julian Avenue 1950

Members of the Rea family gathered in the backyard of the Readle home at 5925 Julian Avenue in 1950.  The Reas were the parents of Della Rea Readle.  In the top photo, Willard Rea, scopes out the new home recently purchased by his son-in-law and daughter.  The ladies, in their patterned dresses, take a moment to look up at the photographer.  Behind them children play in a sandbox under a tall apple tree.  Both of the garages in this historic photo are no longer standing.  The structure on the right served as the garage for 5919 Julian Avenue.  That building has since been replaced by a newer garage.

If you did not know any better, you would think the second photo was taken in the country and not in the backyards of a densely built street.  Most of the homes in the 5900 block of Julian Avenue were built in the 1910s and 1920s.  Tall trees provided nice shade for the backyards all along the alley.  Notice a mop is hanging on the clothesline to dry. These historic images are courtesy of John Readle.

A contemporary image shows the front of the home in 2012.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Readles of Julian Avenue

Hayes and Della Rea Readle moved into their charming Dutch Colonial home at 5925 Julian Avenue in 1950.  The family would remain there until the late 1980s.  Both of the Readles hailed from Rush County, Indiana and stayed connected to those families back in Rushville, Manilla, and Arlington for years.  The couple had one son named John, who actually grew up in Irvington.  Mr. Readle supported the family as a furniture salesman while Mrs. Readle eventually went to work as an insurance agent.

In these two historic images, the Readles pose for family photographs.  In the top image, you can also see the family dog, "Snookie." Mrs. Readle is wearing an apron so perhaps she paused from preparing the family meal for this picture. This image was taken on November 11, 1951.  In the second photo, the Readles stand on their front porch.  You can barely see 5929 Julian Avenue behind them.  John looks slightly older in this shot so it was probably taken in 1952 or 53.

The contemporary image, taken on July 9, 2012, shows that little has changed about this modest home over the years.  The dwelling has been painted white since at least 1950. It was likely built in the 1920s.  The historic images are courtesy of John Readle.  More on this family will be forthcoming.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Former Lambda Chi Alpha House--1923

The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity began life at Butler University in 1915.  Like most Greek organizations, the leadership looked for existing homes in Irvington to house their chapter.  They found this tall Queen Anne styled home (built circa 1895) at 24 South Butler Avenue and remained in it through most of the 1920s.  The Ely family dwelled in it before the young men moved in.  The abode was conveniently located just three blocks south of campus.  After Butler moved out of the neighborhood in 1928, the home went back into private hands.  At some point, it was carved into apartments, as many homes were along South Butler Avenue, especially after World War II.

The Ely House (c.1895) later home to Lambda Chi Alpha in the 1920s

24 South Butler in 2012

The Ely Home has been altered over the years.

The home looks very different in 2012 from when it was first built in the late nineteenth century.  Obviously, something has happened--perhaps a fire--as the roofline has been completely changed.  Curiously, two other homes nearby look remarkably similar. Perhaps they were built by the same investor.

One block South on Butler--a twin to the Ely Home

Another home similar to the Ely Home on South Hawthorne Lane

Today's historic image is courtesy of Amy Friedly.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lost Irvington: 216-18 Ohmer Avenue

Ever wonder what used to be where many of our parking lots are today?  Houses close to businesses, lodges, churches, schools, and other institutions have often been demolished as the need for more parking has grown.

Such is the case for today's profile.  This early twentieth-century residence used to sit on the northwest corner of Downey and Ohmer Avenues. (216-18 Ohmer Avenue)  Its location near the former Butler University campus made it an ideal location for renters and boarders over the years.  It sat across the street from the headquarters for the Disciples of Christ.  That fact, would in the end, spell the doom of the historic home because the Disciples tore it down for more parking.

It was first built as a single family residence. Professor Richard B. Moore and his family dwelled at 216 Ohmer Avenue in the early twentieth century.  Later it appears to have been turned into a duplex.  In this photo, taken in 1947, Johnny Lindeman poses in front of his childhood home.  The Lindemans dwelled in 218 while Mr. and Mrs. Earl Deeter lived at 216 Ohmer.  This historic image is courtesy of Sue Thompson.  The contemporary image was shot in the winter of 2012.

216-218 Ohmer Avenue in 1947--Young Johnny Lindeman

The same view in 2012.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A House of Boulders in Irvington's Third Circle--c.1905

The Osborne (sometimes spelled Osburn and Osborn) family farmed 160 acres on the southwest corner of East 10th Street and Arlington Avenue for decades.  Benjamin F. Osborne married Mary Torr on November 3, 1865.  Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved into a log cabin on the above mentioned plot of land.  They raised their five children on the estate and eventually the farm became prosperous enough to finance a grand home.

The Osborne Home Circa 1905

Curiously, the couple waited years to build their dream house as Mr. Osborne was 60 years old and Mrs. Osborne was 49 in 1905.  The builder culled nearby Pleasant Run stream for boulders and positioned the home amidst beech, oak, maple, elm, poplar, and red bud trees.  They called the place Beechwood.  It remained an oasis for the couple in their waning years.

Benjamin F. Osborne

Mary Torr Osborne

The Osbornes predated the founding of Irvington and must have watched in amazement as the community began to grow ever closer to their farm.  They were founding members of the Irvington Methodist Church.  Their beautiful acreage likely provided much enjoyment for local residents as they hiked or rode by in their wagons or automobiles.  After the completion of Pleasant Run Parkway in 1911, developers began to approach the Osbornes, who in turn sold off parcels of their property.  After Mr. Osborne's death in 1918, the family held onto the land for another two years.

955 North Campbell Avenue in 2012

Research conducted by Steve Barnett and Paul Diebold of the Irvington Historical Society reveal that  Arthur Brown of the Union Trust Bank approached surviving Osborne family members in 1920 with a tempting offer.  They agreed to the deal and Mr. Brown began to develop the land all along Campbell and Arlington Avenues.  The Osborne home was not razed, but was instead placed in an oval plot of land.  Builders constructed tasteful Tudor Revival and craftsman bungalows literally around the Osborne home.  Mr. Brown placed several restrictions upon the development.  All homes had to cost at least $1800 or more and were required to be set back at least forty feet.  He decreed that no duplexes, businesses, or apartments could be built within the new subdivision.  He also forbade African-Americans from purchasing lots.  It was the 1920s and Indiana was under the grip of the Ku Klux Klan.  Nearby Emerson Heights had a similar discrimination clause.

Today, the area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is called the North Irvington Garden District.  The homes are exceptionally well-kept and have retained their value over the years.  Pleasant Run Golf Course is nearby.

The entry for the Osborne farm used to be on Arlington.  One column from 1905 still stands along that street although the area was redeveloped after 1925.  

You may learn more about the North Irvington Garden District by reading the National Register nomination, compiled by the Irvington Historical Society.  It can be found online.