Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Snippets of Life at a Beechwood Avenue Bungalow--1931

The Dickerson Family moved from Oregon to a variety of states before finally settling in Indianapolis.  Jesse Earl Dickerson worked as a fruit and vegetable inspector for the US Department of Agriculture.  Upon first arriving in Indianapolis in 1928, the family rented a small bungalow for $50 a month at 5823 Beechwood Avenue.  Esther Dickerson stayed at home and raised her four children in the house although they only stayed there for about five years before moving on to University Avenue.

In the top two historic images, taken in 1931, the Dickerson children gathered for photos in the backyard.  The boys, Leland and Robert, wore sailor suits.  The girls, Beverly and Vivian, were clad in dresses.

In the bottom photo, Leland Dickerson posed in his cowboy suit next to the family's 1926 Marmon automobile.  Marmons were produced on the westside of Indianapolis.  To see later snapshots of life in this home click on the Ferling link below.

Leland, Robert, Beverly, and Vivian Dickerson in the backyard of 5823 Beechwood Avenue in 1931

Leland and Robert Dickerson in backyard of 5823 Beechwood Avenue in 1931

Cowboy Leland Dickerson next to family Marmon at 5823 Beechwood Avenue in 1931
To see a contemporary image of this bungalow, click on the link below.  The historic images are courtesy of Leland Dickerson.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Beechwood Avenue Then and Now

The Dickerson children (Vivian, Beverly, Robert and Leland) posed with their friend Joe Roemmer (holding the infant) along Beechwood Avenue most likely in 1930.  Notice the wonderful toy firetruck two of the kids are sitting in.  Behind them, you can clearly see 5820 (closest to the photographer), 5814, and 5806 Beechwood Avenue.

Edward and Etta Seibert dwelled at 5820 Beechwood Avenue in 1930 along with their chldren, Harold, Gertrude, and Mary.  The Seiberts owned the home valued at $5000.  Mr. Seibert was the proprietor of an auto repair shop.  You will note that the contemporary photo shows that the stone porch has been removed.

The middle home at 5814 Beechwood Avenue is no longer standing and was likely near the end of its era in Irvington by the time this photo was snapped.  The Endsley family dwelled in the nineteenth-century home for decades.  It is unclear why the home was torn down, but a newer home was built on the lot in 1937.

Herman and Iona Knecht dwelled at 5806 Beechwood in 1930.  Mr. Knecht taught in the public schools while Mrs. Knecht stayed home to raise their sons Robert and William.

The Dickerson kids lived across the street at 5823 Beechwood Avenue while Joe Roemmer dwelled with his family at 5825 Beechwood.

5820, 5814, 5806 Beechwood Avenue c1930.  Pictured: Vivian, Beverly, Leland, Robert Dickerson and Joe Roemmer

5820, 5814, and 5806 Beechwood Avenue in the final days of 2013.  
The historic image is courtesy of Leland Dickerson.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Beechwood Avenue Crew--1930

When the Dickerson family and friend, Joe Roemmer (child with hat) gathered for this photo on March 10, 1930, most of the homes behind them were only three to five years old.  The Roemmers, native to Austria, dwelled at 5825 Beechwood Avenue in the home closest to the photographer.  Joseph Roemmer, Sr. was watchmaker and jeweler.  The 1930 Federal Census reveals that Mr. Roemmer and his wife Anna owned their small bungalow valued at $5,000.  Vivian, Robert, and Leland Dickerson enjoyed playing with young Joe.  They dwelled at 5823 Beechwood (not pictured).  Sadly, the most visible home in the photo, 5831 Beechwood Avenue, is in deplorable shape in 2013.  You may see it by clicking on a link below.

In front of 5825 Beechwood Avenue:  Joe Roemmer, Vivian Dickerson, Leland Dickerson,  and Robert Dickerson (seated) on March 10, 1930.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

An Early Snapshot of Thomas Carr Howe High School--1939

Howe High School opened its doors in September of 1938.  Built atop "Violet Hill" on land formerly owned by newspaper publisher, Hilton U. Brown, the beautiful Tudor-Revival structure dominated the landscape in western Irvington.  In 1939, Leland Dickerson, a member of the first graduating class in 1941, hiked over to the school with his camera and took this shot.  Later as more students arrived, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board would construct an addition to the southeastern part of the building so this view is no longer possible.  

Thomas Carr Howe High School in 1939
This image is courtesy of Leland Dickerson.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Card From Emerson Heights

Irvington's western neighbor, Emerson Heights, is loaded with wonderful homes from the Arts and Crafts-era.  Sometime around 1950, Carl C. and Elsie Hartman, mailed this gem out to friends and family.  The couple had lived at 525 North DeQuincy Street for decades and would dwell in the house from the 1920s and into the 1960s.  Mr. Hartman was an artist so it is very possible that he created this card.  The home still retains so many wonderful features including the wood clapboard siding and knee braces along the roofline.

Carl C. and Elsie Hartman dwelled at 525 North DeQuincy Street from the 1920s to the 1960s.

525 North DeQuincy Street on December 22, 2013
The historic image is courtesy of Marilyn Jacobs via Ancestry.com


Friday, December 20, 2013

Vacation Bible School--1955

The Irvington Presbyterian Church, like many Indianapolis churches, hosted Vacation Bible Schools throughout the second half of the twentieth century and beyond.  In these photos, most likely taken by Reuben L. Brullow in the summer of 1955, children from the neighborhood gathered for some summer fun.  In the top photo, a group of girls played some kind of game with a ball.  You will notice that nearly all of them were wearing dresses.  Behind the girls, you can not only see the church, but also Maplewood Court.

In the second photo, a group of boys played a game of baseball atop the asphalt parking lot.  You will note that some of the kids off to the side not only rested against one of the parked cars, but one young man actually placed his foot on it! (Kids!) In the extreme foreground of the photo, remnants of the curb and drive of Irving Court can be seen.  The Presbyterians had already purchased half of the court for a parking lot and would soon own all of it.

In the final image, the entire group gathered for a photo.  Look carefully as you might see your likely-now-retired grandparents among those fresh faces.  Behind the students, you can view the double that used to sit along Irving Court just east of the church.

These images are courtesy of Bill Ferling and the Irvington Presbyterian Church.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Church is Over--1955

In the summer of 1955, photographer Reuben L. Brullow (1616 North Bosart Avenue) set up his tripod and documented a typical day at the Irvington Presbyterian Church.  Some of his photos were to be used in a forthcoming history written to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the congregation. (1956)  In the top photo, adults chaperoned children to Sunday School along Johnson Avenue.  Through the trees and behind the church, you can see Maplewood Court.  Further down the block, you will note the American Four Square home at 27 Johnson Avenue and the rear of shops along East Washington Street. In the second photo, church members exit the building.  Some linger for conversation while others head for home. These historic images are courtesy of Bill Ferling and the Irvington Presbyterian Church.

Sunday School 1955 at the Irvington Presbyterian Church

Church is over--1955 at the Irvington Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

And the Beam Goes Up--1908

In this stunningly clear photograph, members of the newly organized Irvington Presbyterian Church gathered along Johnson Avenue to commemorate the erection of the first beams of a new edifice.  It was a cool day sometime during the winter of 1908.  The men wore their topcoats and the women donned their hats.  A member of the building committee, James L. Kingsbury (348 North Layman Avenue), addressed the audience. Behind him stood the Reverend Jonathan Day (5830 University Avenue).  Everything about this photograph was ephemeral.  All of the people are long gone; future congregants replaced this building with a larger church in 1928; and the home facing Audubon Road behind those gathered would be razed not long after image was snapped.  Perhaps the most we can hope for is that someone still has one of those wonderful feather hats sitting in an unopened trunk in the back of an attic.

Members of the Irvington Presbyterian Church Gather in 1908
The historic photograph is courtesy of Bill Ferling and the Irvington Presbyterian Church. To see more images from this commemoration, click on the link below.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lost Irvington--the Layman and Buck Homes

During the first fifty years of Irvington's existence, it became very fashionable to build tasteful homes along the National Road.  Washington Street became Irvington's "Main Street" with commercial buildings and streetcar transport.  Local middle class families built large Queen Ann houses near American Four Squares and Italianate villas all along the busy stretch.  With the advent of the automobile and the expansion of commerce, developers bought many of the homes along highway and razed them for commercial interests and parking lots.  This photo, taken c1930, shows the Layman home (5731 East Washington Street) on the left and the Buck home (5723 East Washington Street) on the right.  In the background you can also see the rear of the Audubon Court Apartments.

J. Thompson Layman, who might be the gentleman seen resting on the porch of 5731 East Washington Street, helped to run the family hardware business.  His parents dwelled in the large villa where he grew up around the corner on South Audubon Road.  Mrs. Carra Layman, an active clubwoman, helped to raise the couple's two daughters, Marion and Isabelle in the home.  Note the tall maple shading the house and the proper hedge in front.  The front porch gable also appears to have some ornamental bas relief on it as well.  Next door at 5723 East Washington Street dwelled, George and Anna Buck with their two sons.  Mr. Buck was the principal of Shortridge High School from 1910 until 1940.  Numerous graduates of that famed school went on to prominence including Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (class of 1940).  If you look closely, you can see stained glass windows on the east side of the home.  

The Layman family developed the Audubon Court Apartments in 1914, the first such development in Irvington.  Many others would build apartments along the street necessitating the removal of even more older homes.  Both of the houses pictured were gone by the 1950s.  The historic image is courtesy of Isabelle Layman Troyer.  

5731 and 5723 East Washington Street c1930

Sunday, December 1, 2013

They Gathered at Winona Lake

Members of a youth group from the Irvington Presbyterian Church made the long drive up to Winona Lake, Indiana in the summer of 1925.  The camp site had long been home to various Christian groups including the Presbyterians, who operated a site along the lake beginning in 1913.  Although not every name is known in this photo, we do have some of them.  They read like a "whose who" of Irvington families.  Most of the youth in the photo range in age from 16 to 20.  S.B. McQuown has been identified as the photographer.

The Young Women (left to right)

Janet Carr--Miss Carr dwelled at 76 North Whittier Place. Her was father was a prominent dentist and her uncle was a well-known architect.  She would later marry Egbert Smith Hildreth and live her entire life in Irvington.  An active club woman, Mrs. Hildreth helped to save the Benton House in the 1960s.

We do not know the names of the next two young women.

The fourth girl in the photo was Mary Dove.  Little is known of her at this time although she might have been part of the Dove family who dwelled near East 10th Street and Arlington Avenue.

Next was Ethel Loomis, who dwelled at 341 North Bolton Avenue.  Mrs. Loomis helped to organize the trip and also served as a chaperone.

Mary Alice Epler, of 133 North Drexel Avenue is the sixth girl.  Her sister sat nearby.

We do not know the name of the next young woman.

Jeanette Epler, also of 133 North Drexel Avenue sat near her sister and just below the love her life, John McPheeters.  The two of them would eventually marry.  Tragically, Mr. McPheeters perished during World War II leaving a young widow back in their apartment at 46 South Ritter Avenue.  The famous photographer, Alfred  Eisenstaedt for Life magazine visited her in the fall of 1944 and photographed her for a story on the victims left behind from the war.  Her face in that photo, filled with anguish and sadness, looked far different than the gay young woman on an Indiana summer day in 1925.

We do not know the name of the next young woman.

Helen Brown (later Weigman) of 333 North Irvington was the eighth girl from the left.

Next to her sat, Elizabeth Mullin, who lived in a cottage at 203 South Ritter Avenue. Her father, Elmer Mullin, ran a business along Bonna Avenue.

At the end of the row, rested Mildred Campbell, who would later become a teacher at Shortridge High School.  She inspired thousands of city residents and her reputation as an outstanding educator still lives on in 2013.  A thorough person, she once helped to document the species of every tree in Ellenberger Park.  As a girl, she dwelled at 29 North Hawthorne Lane.

The Young Men (left to right)

Paul Lambert, at the far left, dwelled at 46 North Sheridan Avenue.

Next to him, stood Howard Dirks of 24 North Ritter Avenue.  The Dirks family ran one of the most popular grocery stores in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, we do not know the names of the next two young men.

John McPheeters, an Eagle Scout and future war hero, stood above his future wife, Jeanette Epler.  After his untimely death in battle, the military named some barracks for him at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was beloved by his troops.  As a youth, he lived at 52 North Audubon Road.

Dr. George William Allison, of 254 South Ritter Avenue, served as the minister for the Irvington Presbyterian Church from 1919 to 1930.  He would be responsible for overseeing the construction of the grand edifice that today sits at 55 Johnson Avenue.

The last young man at the far right was that of George Newton, who dwelled at 323 North Audubon Road.

This photograph is courtesy of Bill Ferling and the Irvington Presbyterian Church.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

These Scouts Were Prepared!

Eight scouts from Mr. Smith's Sunday School class at the Irvington Presbyterian Church went on an adventure sometime in the summer of 1910.  The young men ranged in age from 10 to 12 and dwelled in southern Irvington.  In the top row, starting at the left, John Wamsley (5718 Oak Avenue) stared pensively at the photographer.  He was one of the few boys not holding a prop.  Next to him, Walter McCoy proudly held a baseball for a future game.  In the middle, a formidable Albert Stone (5927 Rawles Avenue) grasped a gun for the hunt. Next to him, Harold Wilson (5907 Rawles Avenue) displayed an unidentifiable object, and at the end of the row sat Raymond Woods. (308 South Audubon Road) In the front row, Bud Bunnell (5919 Rawles Avenue) practiced tying knots for all to see.  Smiling Walter Porter (342 South Arlington Avenue) was ready for a game of football, while Clyde McVey (211 Good Avenue) showed off the troop knife.

It is unclear as to where the boys gathered on that lovely day.  Behind them, you can see a small cottage and a swing dangles from a high branch.  Over one hundred years ago, a group of Irvington kids sat under a tall tree...

This image is courtesy of Bill Ferling and the Irvington Presbyterian Church.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time for a Cup of Coffee and a Piece of Pie

When the Thomas Restaurant chain opened at 5530 East Washington Street, local residents had the opportunity to feast on some classic mid-century diner-fare.  In this postcard image, c1940, you can see that the structure had features of the Art Deco style, an era not often seen in the neighborhood.  Paul Diebold in Greater Irvington (1997) pointed out that the front of the building was clad in pigmented glass.  Note the neon signs--another novelty for the Irvington commercial strip at the time.  The chain had three other restaurants in Indianapolis at 32 East Georgia Street, 318 North Meridian Street, and 6245 North College Avenue.  A local landlord in need of a parking lot flattened the streamlined building in the 1990s for a nearby blood plasma center.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Years and Still Going Strong

It has been three years since I first set up this little blog.  I started this site in November of 2010 because I could find nothing like it on the internet.  If you build it they will come. Yes!  My hope, with the conception of this page, was that you would reach out and assist Irvington document its rich and interesting heritage along with me, and you have!  I now have friends from all over the nation who have found this site and have generously opened their scrapbooks for the world to see.  In the three years of operation, Vintage Irvington has been viewed over 75,000 times from places as far away as Russia, Latvia, Brazil, Germany, and as close as Julian, Lowell, and Beechwood Avenues.  I am so thankful for the many contributors to the blog this past year including Larry Muncie, Chuck McCleery, Ann Hart Stewart, Bill Ferling, David Bailey, Paula Schmidt, Cate Surratt Delaney, the Custer Family, Chuck and Joyce Vogt, Bob Alloway, Sue Poulos, Don Rouse, Carol Kappel, Laura Hildreth, Lydia Talbot, Jim Brandenburg, Catherine Phillips Kippert, and any others I may have inadvertently left out.  THANK YOU!!  To celebrate three years online, I have chosen a few popular photos from this past year.  I look forward to hearing from more people and let's keep these historic photographs and stories coming!  Drop me a line at sleeth28@rock.com.

In January, local history sleuth, Paula Schmidt, wrote of the little cottage at 5246 Julian Avenue. In this photo, Helen Tanselle posed with her daughter, Nancy c1948.

Former Irvington resident, David Bailey contributed so many wonderful photographs to this blog. In this photo, his grandfather Charles Sammis, a mailman, posed with "Babe" in front of 256 South Emerson c1915. 

Sue Amick Poulos submitted this sweet photo in March. Ward Poulos looking quite dashing, stopped by 315 North Kitley Avenue to pick up Sue Amick as his date to the Howe High School Prom in 1965.

Larry Muncie has been documenting Irvington's history for many years. I am proud to say that he has been an invaluable partner in my quest for historical accuracy. He has contributed numerous photos and stories for this blog. I am happy to report that he has also been very generous with his own personal collection including this jewel of the Polk's Milk Truck taken in front of his childhood home at 5831 Beechwood Avenue in 1948.

Local Irvingtonian, Don Rouse, has donated many photos for this blog including this image of his mother, Christine Bruckman (far left) with her Missions Building colleagues on a bridge in Ellenberger Park in 1943.

This wonderful aerial photo of southern Irvington documented the neighborhood as it looked in the winter of 1923.

Chuck McCleery is one of the most generous people I have met. He has not only contributed amazing photos and stories for this blog, but he has connected me with other former residents. In this photo, he stands with his two sisters, Wilda Lee and Joyce, in the alley behind their home at 317 South Arlington Avenue in 1955.  

This rare image of the Kile Home shortly before its demolition in the early 1970s captivated many readers who had never seen the house that used to sit under the Kile Oak tree on Beechwood Avenue.  This image came from the Chuck McCleery collection. 

In September, Vintage Irvington became part of the the new Field Trip App from Google.  Now, when people pass through Indianapolis, they can click on this app and visit historic sites in Irvington!  

I stumbled upon Jim Brandenburg on Ancestry.com.  He generously shared wonderful photos that belong to his mother, who grew up along Ridgeview Drive.  In this photo, nine-month old Glenna Leonard sits in her front yard at 339 North Ridgeview Drive in 1928.

I loved meeting Carol Kappel, who dwelled in the "Castle House" at 5631 University Avenue.  (1974--1991).  She is an amazing artist and she shared some wonderful photos of her time in the manse including this shot taken in the parlor of the nineteenth-century home in the summer of 1975.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Irvington Post Office Destroyed in Storm

For the past year, the Irvington community has been hard at work raising money to save the historic Irvington Post Office and Hook's Drug Store.  In October, they raised enough money to put on a new roof.  Straight line winds destroyed the structure today. No lives were lost and thankfully, no one was hurt, but there are heavy hearts in the neighborhood tonight.  A piece of Irvington's heritage has been lost....

Photo by Catherine Phillips Kippert on November 17, 2013

Thank you, Dr. Vollrath

I first met Dr. Victor Vollrath and Isabelle Burnside Vollrath in April of 2012.  I could not believe my good fortune.  Dr. Vollrath, born in 1916, had grown up in Irvington and at age 95 he could still recall many events from his youth.  Furthermore, he and his wife generously allowed me access to his childhood photo collection.  Most of the images appeared on this site in April and May of 2012.

Victor Vollrath grew up at 218 South Audubon Road in a lovely Dutch Colonial Revival home.  His father ran a nearby grocery store.  His stories of Irvington were filled with tales of dogs, ponies, baseball, and cycling.  He could still recall his neighbors and one of them, Dr. Walter Kelly, inspired him to become a physician.  One of the most powerful stories that he shared involved his own mother, Thermina "Marie" Vollrath.  All five Vollrath boys served in World War II.  Dr. Vollrath told me, that with tears streaming down her face, his mother walked down to the Irving Circle Park on a snowy day and snapped a photo of the park.  She then had five snapshots developed and sent to each Vollrath son so they could have an image of home while they were fighting on the front.

Dr. Victor Vollrath's mother would have been undoubtedly proud of her son had she lived to see him serve as a physician to thousands of Indianapolis residents over a fifty year time span. She sadly passed soon after his return from the war.  Today I honor his memory and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to meet a local Irvington boy, who made a difference on this planet.  I dedicate this post to the memory of Dr. Victor Vollrath (1916-2013).  You may see images from his youth by clicking on the Vollrath Family link below.

Victor Vollrath with his loyal dog, Fite, in 1927