Thursday, August 30, 2012

Early Color Photograph Along Lowell Avenue--1956

The Phelps brothers posed for this color photograph on August 13, 1956.  Although the color is beginning to fade, you can still see the vibrant hues in their clothing and the glorious nature along the property line.  The Phelps family dwelled at 5317 Lowell Avenue (see link below).  Behind the boys, you can see 5325 Lowell Avenue.  The brick pathway they are standing near still meanders to their childhood home. Both of these homes have been restored by 2012 so the brothers would have little difficulty recognizing their childhood haunts.

This historic image is courtesy of Kent Hankins.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lost Irvington--10 North Ritter Avenue

Homes located near the commercial blocks on East Washington Street were some of the first removed in the neighborhood as parking became a premium.  Six homes on the west side of Ritter Avenue just north of Washington Street were demolished over time.  One home, 24 North Ritter Avenue, was eventually moved to its present location at 354 North Ritter.

10 North Ritter dated to at least the late nineteenth century.  This small cottage served as home for many of the small business folks who operated nearby.  George Wilkins, a barber, lived here in 1916 and worked across the street at 9 North Ritter Avenue.  Howard T. Chaille and his family also lived at 10 North Ritter in the mid-1920s.  Mr. Chaille ran his shoe repair business across the street at 9 North Ritter.  He eventually moved into a bigger store on East Washington Street.  (See Chaille link below)

A member of the Chaille family in a nice boater hat poses on the back porch at 10 N. Ritter c. 1925

Lola Marie Chaille,  poses for a photo at 10 N. Ritter. (c.1925)  Note the brick structure behind her.

Eva Mae Chaille stands on the front porch of 10 North Ritter c.1925.

Although we do not know who these folks are in the photos, someone has written 10 North Ritter on the back of each picture.  They came with the Chaille family collection so it is likely that the folks in these images are connected with that family.  10 North Ritter has been gone for over sixty years and so far these are the only images we have of the structure.  The first two depict the rear of the home and you can see the commercial buildings on the northwest corner of East Washington and Ritter in the background.  The bottom picture was taken on the front porch.  Clearly, the snapshots do not portray the image that all of Irvington was lush and well-manicured.  The yard appears to be dirt and a hubcap rests against the brick building in the background.  Perhaps someday we shall be able to find views that depict all seven homes either destroyed or moved.

These historic images are courtesy of Kent Hankins.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mary Louise Neier--Kindergarten Teacher for Irvington

Mary Louise Neier operated a private kindergarten out of her home at 5506 University Avenue through much of the mid-twentieth century.  A high percentage of the families living in the neighborhood insisted on the early education of their children.  The state of Indiana did not require kindergarten (it still does not in 2012) so families had to find a school.  There were several choices in the community including the Hibben Kindergarten on Pleasant Run Parkway.  Miss Neier operated the pre-school with the support of her mother Bertha and the financial backing of her father, Dr. Oliver C. Neier.  Students entered through a side door on the eastern side of the house and were not allowed in certain rooms.  Graduates of the school now entering their elder years report that Miss Neier made school fun, but she was also strict.

Mary Louise, Bertha, and Dr. Oliver C. Neier c. 1945 by Walls Studio (4018 E. Michigan St.)

Mary Louise Neier, "Queen for a Day," December 14, 1945

Mary Louise Neier was named "Queen for a Day" in December of 1945 by WIBC, a local radio station.  She was chosen because of her work with children.  They sat her on a "glittering" throne and then started handing out gifts.  All of this was done for the Save the Children Foundation.  Miss Neier was flown to Chicago where she was treated to a dinner and a show.  She also received dancing lessons and several fun gag gifts.  Then, representatives presented her with several nice items like hats, dresses, a purse, gloves, and a makeup kit.  The Indianapolis News featured her royal highness prominently on December 14, 1945.

Undated early Polaroid of 5506 University Avenue

5506 University in 2012

The photo above is an undated early Polaroid of the house.  The home was extensively remodeled by the Fogleman family in 1985.  They removed the original front porch perhaps due to deterioration.  They also collected much of the history that we now know about the Neiers.

The historic images are courtesy of William and Jamidawn Jensen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dr. Oliver C. Neier and Family

Dr. Oliver C. Neier (1864-1954) served as a physician for families living in the Irvington area for nearly fifty years.  A native of nearby Hancock County, he moved to the neighborhood in 1902 and set up shop at 5402 East Washington Street (demolished). He took over the practice of Dr. Robert Long, who moved into the city.  Dr. Neier eventually relocated his family into a beautiful stuccoed American Four Square at 5506 University Avenue.  Each morning he would rise at 6:00 A.M. to make his daily visits to the sick both in homes and at Methodist Hospital.  He solidified his place in Indianapolis medical history in 1908 when he delivered the first baby, Fletcher Ernstberger, at the brand new Methodist Hospital.  Dr. Neier remained friends with the Ernstbergers even after they moved from Indianapolis to California.  Tragically, young Fletcher died in a hunting accident at age 17.

Dr. Oliver C. Neier (1864-1954) was named after Indiana Civil War Governor, Oliver P. Morton.  

This sign hung on Dr. Neier's office on East Washington Street and on University Avenue

Dr. Neier began his medical career as a "horse and buggy" physician, however, by the early 1900s he owned an Overland Auto.  For most of his 90 years on this planet, he tended the sick and wounded.  He remained in practice well into his late 80s.  His wife Bertha and daughter Mary Louise ran the Irvington Kindergarten out of their home for decades.

Dr. Neier sweeps the snow from his porch at 5506 University Avenue.  Below him, you can see the back of the "Irvington Private Kindergarten" sign.  Behind him you can see houses on South Ritter and University Avenues.

Dr. Oliver C. Neier supports his wife Bertha. (c.1945) They are standing in front of their home at 5506 University Ave.

The historic images and sign are courtesy of William and Jamidawn Jensen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Neier Kindergarten at 5506 University Avenue --1937

Bertha and Mary Neier ran the Irvington Private Kindergarten at 5506 University Avenue through much of the early to mid-twentieth century.  The mother/daughter team became instrumental in helping  hundreds of young Irvingtonians on the right path to a proper education. A school hack and later bus would drive through the neighborhood to transport the pupils to this lovely stuccoed American Four Square home near the intersection of University and South Ritter Avenues.  Dr. Neier, a physician and the patriarch of this talented family, spent most of his time either at his office or at Methodist Hospital.  After Bertha became too frail to run the school, Mary took the helm and continued to educate children out of the dwelling until the 1950s.

Irvington Private Kindergarten at 5506 University Avenue in 1937

In this wonderful photo, pirates, wizards, cowboys, and a host of other cleverly dressed children gathered for a school photo in 1937.  You can see that Mrs. and Miss Neier have placed a tarp on the ground so that the kids will not get dirty.  Autumn leaves, still not yet raked, lull on the grass and sidewalk.  The home still stands in 2012.  Look for more posts on the Neiers in the coming days.

Children still play in the front yard at 5506 University Avenue in 2012

This wonderful historic image is courtesy of William and Jamidawn Jensen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Earl Family of University Avenue

The Earl family dwelled in what Irvingtonians now call the "Castle House" (5631 University Avenue) from the late nineteenth century till 1914. The Reverend Henry S. Earl (1831-1919) immigrated to the US in 1883.  He hailed from Northamptonshire, England, but his ministry took him to Adelaide Australia, where he met his future wife Anna Jane Margarey (1850-1899).  Several of their children would be born in Australia.  The Earls moved into their Irvington home sometime in the 1890s although it is possible that it might have been slightly earlier.  The beautiful brick turreted house had been built for the Eudorus Johnson family in 1876.  Sadly, Mrs. Earl passed away at age the 49 in 1899. The Earls sold the beautiful home to the Payne family on May 9, 1914.

The Earl Family of 5631 University Avenue

A contemporary shot of the Johnson Home (Earl dwelling) in 2004

Pictured in this nineteenth century portrait:  Standing:  William Rupert Earl (1872-1948); Henry E. Earl (1869-1957) Seated:  Ernest Theodore Earl (1873-1957); Mabel Sarah Earl (1875-1968); Anna Jane Magarey Earl (1850-1899); Percy Howard Earl (young boy--1885-1974); Henry S. Earl (1831-1919); Edwin Charles Earl (1877-1967); Albert James Earl (1882-1971) Based upon the age of the youngest child, the photo was likely taken sometime around 1889.

The contemporary shot was taken in 2004.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beautiful Renditions of Butler's Irvington Campus in 1923 by Thomas Hibben

Thomas E. Hibben, Jr. (1893-1950) grew up in a beautiful Italianate villa on Downey Avenue across from the Bona Thompson Library.  (The Thompsons had also lived in the very same house before the Hibbens.)  The Hibben family had many talented artists, architects, and teachers living under the same roof.  Young Tom, who grew up near the Butler University campus, likely spent many childhood hours in the lovely setting with his Irvington friends.  His father was an artist and likely encouraged his love of art and architecture.  He later studied engineering and architecture at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and in Europe.

He returned to Indianapolis and served as architect and draftsman.  In the 1920s, he was awarded the contract to design several of the buildings on the new Butler campus at the Fairview site.  Before embarking on that journey, he spent time in 1923 rendering these lovely images of the small college just off Emerson Avenue.  The artwork would be published in the Drift, the Butler yearbook.  In the 1930s, he left Indiana for Washington DC where he worked for the Roosevelt administration designing affordable homes.  He also served the country as an advisor on engineering subjects in the Philippines and the Caribbean.  In his final post, Mr. Hibben traveled to Pakistan (Western Pakistan in 1950) as an ambassador to that region.  He was a long way from the tree-lined meandering streets of his boyhood home.  Tragically, he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1950 at the age of 58 in the city of Karachi.  More posts will be forthcoming on this talented Irvington architect, artist, engineer, and ambassador.  He designed several homes in the Irvington area, including a beautiful Tudor Revival for his sister Helene along Pleasant Run Parkway.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

In Search of More Great Irvington Photos!

I am always on the hunt for more great candid shots that document the history of Irvington.  Drop me an e-mail at if you have any family photos or know of someone who lived in the neighborhood.  I post shots from all different eras.  I would love to feature your family or friends on Vintage Irvington!

In this photo, Marty Book poses for her parents in 1950.  She attended Howe High School and dwelled at 25 South Irvington Avenue.  This wonderful image is courtesy of Marty Book Powell.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nearby Little Flower Home--1936

The Little Flower neighborhood bounded by Sherman, Emerson, East 10th, and 16th Streets is located northwest of Irvington.  Home to hundreds of historic bungalows, the community is anchored by the Little Flower Catholic Church and School and Scecina High School.  Developed in the 1920s through the 1940s, the area remained stable while other nearby east side neighborhoods fell victim to crime and suburban flight.  Tidy small Arts and Crafts era and Tudor Revival homes still stand nearly ninety years later.   The community has a strong neighborhood association in 2012.

The Mulcahy Home at 1221 North DeQuincy Street in 1936

Bernard P. and Johanna Drury (Leland) Mulcahy moved from Terre Haute, Indiana, to Indianapolis along with their three-year-old son, Richard, and infant daughter, Patricia, in 1936.   Mr. Mulcahy was a chemist while Mrs. Mulcahy stayed at home and raised their growing family.  The Mulcahy's abode at 1221 North DeQuincy Street must have been one of the newer homes in Little Flower when they set up housekeeping.  Notice the Tudor Revival elements on the front of the home.  They would only live in the house for one year before moving to a larger place on the northeast side of Indianapolis.  This lovely home still stands in 2012 although the stucco and Tudor elements have been covered with vinyl siding. At some point, residents added a proper front porch something the Mulcahy's did not have in 1936.

This historic image is courtesy of Maureen Mulcahy Reichardt and this post is dedicated to the memory of her father, Richard Anthony Mulcahy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shelter House at Butler in 1922

One of the landmarks on the former Butler University campus included this shelter house. Students frequently met there or studied in it on nice days.  Butler yearbook photos are filled with students posing in or near the structure.  Many a moonlit rendezvous likely began here.  This photo, taken in 1922, shows that the structure was surrounded by tall shade trees.  You can see why it became a romanticized subject by local artists and writers.  The shelter house was open to all locals including those Irvingtonians who had no ties to the Butler campus.  Sadly, it was removed after the campus moved to the Fairview site.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Street Resurfacing Reveals Historic Bricks

Recent work along Burgess and University Avenues has unveiled a beautiful part of Irvington's past.  Most of our streets used to be brick!  Can you imagine how stunning that must have been?  Most of the "pavers" were laid out in the early twentieth century. Layman Avenue, one of our few brick streets remaining in 2012, was completed in 1910. These photos reveal brick streets that have not been viewed in decades. Underneath all of that asphalt are the original brick pavers.  Although I may not live long enough to see it, I predict that future Irvingtonians will want the bricks back in place along our meandering avenues.

Above Ground Archaeology:  The intersection of University and Burgess Avenue in 2012

Take a good look before these "pavers" are covered for another 50 years.

 Some of these bricks look brand new.  They were likely laid out at least one hundred years ago.

Notice the deep curbs along Burgess Avenue

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Irvington Historical Society to Host Ice Cream Social

The 48th Annual Ice Cream Social hosted by the Irvington Historical Society will take place on Sunday, August 5 from 2:00-5:00PM at the Bona Thompson Center.  Bring the family and sample some delicious ice cream and cake. The Irvington Guild of Artists and Irvington Garden Club will also be part of the celebration.  I would encourage all current and former residents to consider joining the Irvington Historical Society.  This important organization preserves historical documents, photographs, and art related to the neighborhood.  They also maintain the Bona Thompson Memorial Library, the last building left from the days of Butler University in the community.  I am including a link so that you can join!

The Bona Thompson Memorial Library in 1922

Come visit your neighbors and step back in time with a tour of the Bona Thompson!  See you on Sunday!