Sunday, September 15, 2013

Robertson Home Through the Years

The Reverend David A. and Orintha Robertson moved into their beautiful new American Four Square home at 65 North Ritter Avenue with two of their sons in 1905.  It is very possible that the elderly couple were actually moving in with their very successful sons, Dr. J. Frank Robertson, a local physician and Lou A Robertson, an attorney.  The Reverend Robertson and his wife hailed from southern Indiana.  In fact, his father, Acquilla Robertson was the first white child to ever be baptized in the state of Indiana.  The Robertsons moved from one Indiana town to another since the minister frequently pastored at Methodist churches.  For the last twenty-one years of their lives, the family dwelled in Indianapolis and in Irvington for part of those years.  Two other sons, Edward and Charles found success as a minister and as a businessman in other cities.

Reverend Robertson passed away in the lovely home in 1912.  Orintha Robertson died in 1919.  Dr. J. Frank Robertson continued to dwell in the home until the 1920s.  He does not appear to have ever married.  Dr. Robertson, a graduate of Moore's Hill College in southern Indiana, remained an active alumn and he helped to raise funds to keep the financially-strapped institution open. (It eventually closed.) During World War One, Dr. Robertson served at Camp Greenleaf in Georgia where he attended to the soldiers going or coming home from the war.  He was honorably discharged in 1919 and returned to Irvington to serve as a family doctor for hundreds of local residents.

Lou A.  Robertson married a local Irvington woman named Josephine Mary Doelker on October 11, 1911.  He was 36 and she was 21.  They moved into a charming home at 321 North Ritter Avenue before finally moving into 65 North Ritter Avenue in the 1920s.  Mr. Robertson's name frequented the local newspapers as he helped to settle divorces, draw up wills, and settle lawsuits.  In one headline-grabbing case, Mr. Robertson represented the family of David M. Lee, who was run over and killed by a taxi at Union and McCarty Streets in 1918.  The Lees received $5,300 as settlement thanks to Mr. Robertson's hard work.  Mrs. Robertson stayed at home and helped to raise their three sons, David, Philip, and Frank.  She also served as a volunteer for the Campfire Girls at the Irvington Methodist Church.

For the next several decades, the Robertsons dwelled in the stone Craftsman home.  The family literally witnessed the building of Irvington all around them.  They moved into the home while Ritter was a dirt street.  By the end of their tenure in the house, the avenue had been widened and lengthened and had become a busy thoroughfare. In 2013, the lovely home underwent an extensive renovation.

In the following historic images courtesy of both the Larry Muncie Collection of the Irvington Historical Society and Catherine Phillips Kippert, you can see the home shortly after its construction in 1906 and throughout the mid-twentieth century.  I have also included a photo of the dwelling taken in the summer of 2013.

The Robertson Home (65 North Ritter Avenue) can be seen on the right c1907

The Robertson Home (65 North Ritter Avenue) c 1945.  The leaning tree in the backyard still lives in 2013.

The Robertson Home (65 North Ritter Avenue) c1978

The Robertson Home (65 North Ritter Avenue) on September 14, 2013

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