Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Festival--1973

The neighborhood just concluded the 66th annual Halloween Festival (October 27, 2012). The very first festival occurred in 1946 although it waned dramatically by the late 1960s. Then, the local citizens under the leadership of John Readle, resurrected the event and it has been going strong for over forty years.

Members of the Thompson family prepare to paint the windows along East Washington Street in 1973

In the top photo, taken in 1973, Sue Thompson helps her son prepare to paint the windows along East Washington Street.  The subsequent undated newspaper articles discuss the the revival of the festival.  I will try to pin down the date of those articles.

Undated newspaper articles dealing with the revival of the festival perhaps in the late 1960s or early 1970s

There was much to celebrate at the festival in 2012 with a new streetscape and several vibrant businesses along the corridor. The historic photo is courtesy of the Thompson family.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Time for Basketball--1917

Members of the men's basketball team for Butler University posed for this photo in 1917.  The teams struggled through the 1910s and would not become a powerhouse for another ninety years.  Behind them, you can see the main classroom building, which was torn down in the late 1930s.  They played in a small gym located on the edge of the Irvington campus.  Future basketball teams would have the thrill of playing at the Hinkle Fieldhouse beginning in 1928 at the Fairview campus.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Karns Family of Julian Avenue

Grocer, Joseph E. Karns, and his wife Laura Belle Harker Karns dwelled at 5432 Julian Avenue for many years.  The Karns frequently entertained and their well-attended gatherings were often documented in the "Society" section of the Indianapolis Star.  Their daughter Kathryn enjoyed hosting events as well.  On December 26, 1913, she invited twenty-five young women to her home for a Christmas party.  She decorated the house in Christmas colors and placed holly and greenery throughout the parlor and dining room. She hosted a similar event on December 30, 1915.  The elder Karns enjoyed hosting bridge parties for relatives from Bloomington and Tipton, Indiana as well those from Rockford, Illinois.  Snippets in the local papers reveal keen insights into the day to day life of this interesting family.

Joseph Karns, a local grocer, relaxed on his front porch at 5432 Julian Avenue c.1918.

Laura Belle Harker Karns of 5432 Julian Avenue seen here in this undated photo.  

Kathryn Karns frequently made the society page for hosting and attending local Irvington events.  She posed for this photograph at the National Studio in Indianapolis likely around 1915.  

The historic images are courtesy of Phillip Karns.  The contemporary image, taken on October 5, 2012,  reveals that the Queen Anne porch is long gone and that the house has since been turned into a duplex.  The historic windows of the home were recently preserved.

5432 Julian Avenue in 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

James Dissette Home in 1912--Lost Irvington

James Irving Dissette, a wealthy banker, hired architect Adolf Scherrer to design a country estate for his growing family in 1909. Mr. Dissette had earned a sizable income as the founder of the American National Bank.   He purchased several acres along Pleasant Run stream near the intersection of North Arlington Avenue and Pleasant Run Parkway.  Mr. Dissette was newly married for the second time after the passing of his first wife, Grace, in 1905.  He built the home for his second wife, Alice and their children, from both of his marriages.

The Dissettes lived a comfortable life in the home.  The family frequently entertained.  Mrs. Dissette was an active club woman.  For instance, on May 1, 1912, she hosted a formal "May Day" dinner at her house for members of the Coterie Club and their husbands.  Like many of Indianapolis's elite, the Dissettes summered in Michigan and usually returned home in September.  The family did not dwell in the home for long, however, as they eventually moved to a grand home along North Meridian Street in 1918.

Dissette family and home in 1912

James Irving Dissette

The 18-room house then went back on the market.  Paul Diebold, in his book Greater Irvington (1997), reports that Mr. Dissette sold the mansion to the Capitol Film Company, a motion picture corporation.  This venture did not pan out and so the Indianapolis Parks Department purchased the land in the 1920s.  Eventually, the city added a beautiful golf course and turned the Dissette Home into the clubhouse.  Sadly, the structure burned in the 1960s and has faded from the memories of many Irvingtonians.

The historic images are courtesy of the descendants of the Dissette family via

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

University Avenue Home in 1949

Many families have called 5543 University Avenue home over the decades.  This stately home has been an important part of the fabric of Irvington since the early twentieth century.   Several prominent families have lived here including the Barnards and Shadingers.  The subject of this photo, however, was the not the home, but rather that of Librain Collins, who lived with the Holloways (his inlaws), next door at 5531 University Avenue.  The Collins family and the Holloways hailed from the Knightstown, Indiana area before moving to Irvington.  Mr. Collins was 67 years at the time of this photo.  He would live another eight years before passing away in 1957.

Librain Collins stood in front of 5531 University Avenue in 1949. Behind him you can see 5543 University Avenue

5543 University Avenue in 2012

The pictured home at 5543 University Avenue has changed over the years.  Sometime after this photo was taken, the homeowners added aluminum siding and removed the classical cornices (corners).  The front porch was also slightly changed.  A large picture window was added on the west side of the house. In the early 2000s, homeowners at that time removed the aluminum siding and put on concrete fiberboard.  They also removed all of the historic windows, but restored the balustrade railing above the porch.

Edw. and Doris Holloway lived at 5531 University Avenue throughout the 1940s.

The historic photo is courtesy of Carolyn Reed via  The contemporary photos were taken on a gorgeous fall day on October 16, 2012.  To learn more about 5543 University Avenue click on the Barnard or Shadinger link below.      

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fashionable Ritter Avenue--1905

Beautiful homes graced Ritter Avenue in the early 20th century.  The home in the foreground is that of Charles and Grace Hackleman at 34 North Ritter Avenue.  Their home had just been standing for one year when the historic photograph was taken.  Mr. Hackleman earned a comfortable living as an engraver. He later wrote a textbook on engraving and printing for vocational schools around the nation.  The second home at 40 North Ritter Avenue belonged to salesman, Harry Dwyer.  It was also fairly new in 1905.  The third house visible in the photo belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hunt at 46 North Ritter Avenue.  They had only recently purchased the late-nineteenth-century dwelling from Margaret Cummings, a widow.  Mr. Hunt was listed in the directories as a reporter, salesman, and a businessman involved in at least two separate companies.  The last home seen in this image is that of Elwood and Ethel Barnard at 52 North Ritter.  The Barnards were musicians and had their own orchestra.  Other family members who participated in the Barnard Orchestra included Olive and Helen.

Charles and Helen Hackleman and several neighborhood children at 34 North Ritter Avenue in 1905.
  Charles and Helen Hackleman (she is standing on the sidewalk) were the real subjects of this photograph.  Unidentified neighborhood children have joined the pair.  Perhaps they lived in one of the nearby Ritter Avenue homes.

The block looks very different in 2012.  The Works Progress Administration widened the street in the late 1930s and removed the green space and all of the trees next to the avenue.  Unfortunately, 40 North Ritter was greatly altered in the early 1990s when the owners at that time added an entire story and vinyl sided over the wood shake and clapboards.  A more historic alteration took place at 46 North Ritter perhaps as early as 1915 when it was converted into four apartments.  The other two homes at 34 and 52 North Ritter have changed little in the 107 years since this photo was taken.

40 North Ritter was drastically altered in the early 1990s.

46 North Ritter was converted to apartments in 1915. You can still see the late nineteenth-century fish scale shakes on the side of the home. 
The historic image is courtesy of Karen Bastian Clark.  The contemporary images were shot on October 5, 2012.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Childhood Scenes at Hackleman Home--1905

Charles and Grace Hackleman had two daughters named Helen and Margaret.  In these historic scenes, little Helen (Margaret had not entered the scene yet.) plays with some unidentified children in 1905.  Her father appears in the top photo.  The children seemed mesmerized by something Mr. Hackleman had put together along the sidewalk in between the houses at 34 and 28 North Ritter Avenue.

Charles Hackleman (34 N. Ritter Ave.) surrounded by children, including his daughter Helen in the background. (1905)  You can see 28 North Ritter Avenue as well.  

In the second photo, little Helen Hackleman is all dressed up and ready to go to the circus.  The photo is dated August 2, 1905.  Helen would later grow up and marry Richmond Bastian.  They would spend most of their married lives together at 28 North Ritter Avenue.  (The home where she was born!) Margaret Hackleman Gaebler, not pictured in these photos, would live the remainder of her life at 34 North Ritter Avenue.  Four doors away, their Aunt Ida Lamberson Russell, lived at 60 North Ritter Avenue.  The Hackleman-Lamberson families truly reigned over this part of Ritter Avenue for decades.

Helen Hackleman (34 N. Ritter Ave.) is ready to go to the circus in 1905.

The historic images are courtesy of Karen Bastian Clark.  The contemporary image shows the Hackleman home in 2012.  (34 N. Ritter Avenue)

Hackleman Home in October of 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Her First Big Walk--1904

In these sweet images, Charles Hackleman takes his daughter for a walk along Ritter Avenue sometime in 1904.  The photos are remarkable for what they reveal behind the couple.  Notice that the street is dirt.  Soon after these photos were taken, the city began to install brick pavers.  Only one house in the photo still stands in 2012 and that is 19 North Ritter Avenue. (foreground) Both 15 and 11 North Ritter are long gone.  In the first photo, you can see the rear of 5502 East Washington Street if you look closely.

Charles and Helen Hackleman go for a walk in 1904 along Ritter Avenue

Helen Hackleman looks toward her Mom, Grace Hackleman, as she walks with her father, Charles, in 1904.

In the second photo, a man walks across the street towards the Hacklemans.  Of course, he is unidentified, but it could have been Daniel Pike, a bookkeeper and grocer who dwelled at 19; it could have been Arthur E. or Harold C. Larsh, a bookkeeper and clerk, who dwelled at 15; or it might have been Geroge C. Harper, a tinner, who rented 11 North Ritter Avenue.  We will likely never know.

Notice that Ritter used to have some green space in between the sidewalk and the street.  That was removed by the WPA in the 1930s to widen the busy avenue.  Trees used to provide a nice canopy over the route.

19 North Ritter on October 1, 2012 

The historic images are courtesy of Karen Bastian Clark.  The contemporary image reveals a very different view in 2012.  The Pike Home still stands, but asphalt now makes up the majority of the area. Homes closest to Washington Street have always been the most endangered structures as parking became a premium throughout the decades.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

She Saw the President--1907

Little Helen Hackleman traveled with her parents to downtown Indianapolis to see President Theodore Roosevelt speak to throngs of Hoosiers on May 30, 1907.  50,000 people gathered to hear the President with more along his motorcade route.  The purpose of the event was to dedicate a statue of Major General Henry Lawton (1843-1899), a Hoosier killed in the line of duty in the Philippine Insurrection following the Spanish American War.

President Theodore Roosevelt speaks to 50, 000 people in Indianapolis on May 30, 1907.

Roosevelt was nearing the end of his second and final term in office.  He chose the moment to discuss many important agenda items including his anti-trust stance.  Hundreds of other dignitaries mingled in the crowd that day.  If Helen Hackleman was at the Courthouse that morning, then she also watched as James Whitcomb Riley read a poem dedicated to the fallen officer.

Helen Hackleman poses on her front porch at 34 North Ritter Avenue on March 24, 1907.

Seven months after this photo was taken, the country fell into an economic panic that saw financial institutions on the verge of collapse all across the US.  The nation recovered after a few key executives, including J.P. Morgan, calmed investors by throwing their wealth into the stock market.  William Howard Taft, the heir to the Roosevelt legacy, won the Presidency in November of 1908.

In the historic image, Helen Hackleman sits and stands on her front porch at 34 North Ritter Avenue in these arty shots taken on March 24, 1907.  The home in the reflection of the glass is that of the Reverend Wilbur F. Walker at 39 North Ritter Avenue.

The Hackleman Home (34 North Ritter Avenue) on October 3, 2012

The Walker Home (39 North Ritter Avenue) on October 3, 2012

How many of us can say that we have seen a President?  For the Hacklemans, it was an important moment in their lives. The contemporary images show both homes in early October, 2012.   The historic Irvington image is courtesy of Karen Bastian Clark.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Proud Father --1903

Charles and Grace Lamberson Hackleman set up housekeeping at 28 North Ritter Avenue in 1901.  They likely enlarged the small cottage and then built their dream home next door at 34 North Ritter Avenue in 1904.  In this photo, likely taken around 1903, Charles Hackleman can be seen with his daughter Helen and an older neighbor girl.  If you look closely, you can see a female figure at the far left of the photo.

The Hackleman Family (c.1903) at 28 North Ritter Avenue

An early autumn evening at 28 North Ritter Avenue in 2012.

This lovely cottage still stands today and is beautifully maintained.  The home looks largely the same today, although a rear addition was placed onto the home in the 1910s.

This historic scene is courtesy of Karen Bastian Clark.  The contemporary photo of the home was taken on October 3, 2012.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Missing Tooth Reemerges Along North Emerson Avenue

Joseph and Jessie Culligan dwelled at 420 N. Emerson Avenue in the 1950s and 1960s.  Mr. Culligan installed fire sprinkler systems in businesses and homes throughout the city.  In the historic image, likely taken around 1955, members of the Culligan family enjoy a moment on the front porch in their modified American Four Square home.  The contemporary image, taken on September 30, 2012, reveals that little has changed with this home.  One large tree still drapes over the property.  To the north of the Culligans, dwelled John and Minnie Reid at 424 North Emerson Avenue (late 1950s).

416, 420, and 424 North Emerson Avenue c.1955

The most obvious difference over fifty years later, is that of the home to the south of the Culligans.  Oliver and Mary York dwelled at 416 N. Emerson Avenue for decades.  Mr. York was a laborer who worked in the Hume-Mansuer Building.  The York home appears to be much older than the other two and might date back to the late nineteenth century.  A newer front porch had been added. You will note that an empty lot now is all that is left of the York property.  Historic photos like this one will help future Irvingtonians put together the missing pieces.

420 and 424 North Emerson Avenue in 2012

The historic image is courtesy of the descendants of the Culligan family via