Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Life for Historic Apartment Building

The historic Butler Apartments (also known as Butler Place) will be renovated by Reverie Estates.  The company has saved and restored several apartment buildings throughout the city of Indianapolis including three in Irvington.  This is exciting news for a corner that has seen better days in the neighborhood.

Located on the northeast corner of East Washington Street and Butler Avenue, the four story brick structure opened on October 4, 1927.  (5230 East Washington St.) With three wings, and forty-nine apartments, the site offered many amenities for the discreet 1920s-era renter.  Some of the features boasted in an Indianapolis Star promotional included the use of Staub Cinder Block to help deaden the sound in between each unit.  New residents walked upon cork tile floors both in their apartment and on the stair treads.  Each kitchen came equipped with built-in cabinets, a Chambers Fireless Gas Range (from Shelbyville, Indiana), and a Kelvinator for refrigeration.   Each unit came equipped with a Murphy "In a Door" bed from the Vonnegut Hardware Store.

The Butler Apartments (5230 East Washington Street) opened on October 4, 1927. Note the original mansard roofline.  

Mr. J. O. McFarland served as the interior designer and he selected wall paper from the Bethard Wall Paper Company at 415-419 Massachusetts Avenue, and he added window shades made of Brenlin cloth from the Montgomery Tent and Awning Company at 2404 East Washington Street.  All mailboxes, hardware, and Schlage Button Locks came from the Pierson-Lewis Hardware Store at 111 East Vermont Street.

Theodore B. Brydon, the builder and designer of the Butler Apartments, also built three other large buildings nearby called the Washington and Audubon, the Arlington, and the Gladstone.  Mr. Brydon used lumber from the Brannum-Keene Lumber Company at 3506 East Washington Street and faced the building with brick from the Irvington Coal and Lime Company at 5543 Bonna Avenue and the Hy-tex Brick Company at East 32nd Street.  The sheet metal contract for the roof was awarded to Elmer R. Mullin, an Irvington businessman who operated his company at 5517 Bonna Avenue.  (see link below) Another Irvington business, the Indianapolis Service Electric Company at 5519 East Washington Street, installed all of wiring and lighting.

The first residents certainly enjoyed the modern structure.  The only common area in which to gather was in the basement.  Mr. Brydon included a large social room, a billiard room, a card room, a children's play room, a laundry room, and many lockers in this part of the building.  The first to lease an apartment paid anywhere from $55 to $70 a month depending upon the size of the unit.  With their rent, the company covered all gas, water, electric, and janitorial fees.

Every apartment at the Butler housed a Chambers Stove like this one.  

Very modern:  Each apartment at the Butler contained a Kelvinator for refrigeration.  

Within two years of the construction of this large building, the neighborhood took an economic hit with the departure of Butler University and the onslaught of the Great Depression.  The management weathered those years and the site became an important place for returning veterans from World War II, who were desperate for housing.  By 2013, the apartment building had seen better days.  Thankfully, the building will be completely restored so stay tuned as another Phoenix rises in Irvington.

1 comment:

  1. Have looked at this building most of my life, as it sits across the street from my family Church and my elementary school. Love to see it when it is all done - long live Irvington!