Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Abandoned Butler University Campus--1936

Charles and Myrtle Sammis built their dream home at 256 South Emerson Avenue across from Butler University's campus in 1908.  The couple raised their two children in the home and likely never envisioned that one day the college would leave Irvington.  In 1928, officials closed the Irvington location and moved north to the Fairview campus. Throughout the 1930s, the neighborhood suffered two insults with the combination of the loss of this important neighborhood institution and with the arrival of the Great Depression.  It would be a double hit to the community.  During this turbulent time, the college did little with the remaining structures now plagued by vandalism and decay. While the adults in the neighborhood lamented on the poor maintenance of the abandoned structures, nearby children found an entirely new playground!



David and Mildred Bailey frequently visited their grandparents at 256 South Emerson and spent some quality time roaming the grounds of the now ghostly quiet campus.  Mr. Bailey remembered that many of the windows had been broken out and the once manicured lawns became weed-choked.  He chuckled, nearly 75 years after playing on the campus, that he managed to acquire a "good case of poison ivy" from his time there.

By the late 1930s, Butler officials tore down most of the buildings and sold off the land for housing.  In 1941, David and sister Mildred moved into 256 South Emerson with their grandparents and watched as developers built brick apartments on the site of the old campus.

In this incredible photograph, likely taken in 1936, the Sammis-Bailey family posed for a photograph.  Although they are the subject of the picture, behind them you can see two abandoned Butler buildings. You will even note a cupola over the shoulder of the ladies in the image.  Pictured in the photo from left to right are:  Willa Sammis Bailey, Myrtle Shimer Sammis, and Charles Sammis.  The two children are Mildred and David Bailey. The contemporary shot shows the exact view in 2013.  The historic photo and stories are courtesy of David Bailey.


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