Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rejuvenation of a 1930s Era Cottage on Julian Avenue

The Story of the Tanselle Cottage at 5246 Julian Avenue
By Paula Schmidt

Certain houses are noticed.  They maybe unusual in their design, or in their setting, or somehow have charming personalities.   The little cottage at 5246 Julian Avenue survived because of that charm.  Located in the corner of a large plot owned by the Thormyer family, the house was built in 1938 by Clara B. Thormyer either to sell or as a residence. Miss Thormyer was the principal of Cumberland High School and owned her family home at 93 South Butler Avenue.  The building permit recorded in the  Indianapolis Commercial (November, 1938) shows the owner as Charles B Schormeyer, a name so suspiciously similar to Clara B Thormyer that it has to be the same person.* 

5246 Julian Avenue in 1940

Although the building permit was granted in 1938, the address does not appear in the city directory until 1940, when it was purchased by the John Tanselle family who loved the house and gardens for fifty years. They ultimately purchased the adjoining property when Clara Thormyer died in 1955, but continued to reside on Julian. 

Mrs. Helen Tanselle and her daughter, Nancy, at 5246 Julian Avenue c1948

Mr. Tanselle was a salesman who loved to garden and he filled his side yard with over 150 roses, peony bushes and spring flowers. That side yard runs from the house along Julian Avenue to Butler Avenue.  The large spruce tree in the front of the house was planted in 1961 at the birth of the first Tanselle grandchild.

The house was sold in the 1990's and fell on hard times with holes in the roof, collapsed ceilings, a rotted porch, an overgrown yard, and ultimately foreclosure.

Hard Times:  By the 1990s, the Tanselle Cottage at 5246 Julian had fallen into disrepair.  

The cottage is still being restored.  The porch was rebuilt based on pictures provided by the Tanselles. Uncovering the house's original grey shakes and reviving the garden are future projects. 

A Phoenix:  By 2013, the current owners have renovated most of the cottage. (Photo--Spring, 2012) 
Editor's Note:  I am indebted to local sleuth, Paula Schmidt for her work in uncovering the story of this lovely cottage.  

*I completely agree with Ms. Schmidt's assessment on this point as there was no Charles B. Shormeyer listed in the Indianapolis directories of 1938.  Her conclusion is that the editors of the Commercial could not read the handwriting.  The names are very similar! I believe her detective work on the name is spot on.  

1 comment:

  1. I can attest to the hard work and attention to history the Schmidts have invested in this beautiful little house. They did the majority of the work as a family project and it was a big project! How rare and lucky it is to find such caretakers of our history.