Thursday, October 31, 2013

Irving Circle Park in the 1970s

This small circular park has been part of Irvington since 1870.  Early twentieth century views of the green space showed many trees.  By the 1960s, the fountain and park needed work.  Community members restored the original fountain and planted more trees in the mid-1970s.  In these two images, you can see the original fountain and some of the homes around the park in 1974 and 1979.

The historic images are courtesy of Carol Kappel.

Irving Circle fountain and Johnson Home in 1974

Jerry Kappel pulls Chase Kappel through the snow in the Irving Circle Park in 1979

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Artist Moves Into the Johnson Home--1974

When Carol Kappel moved into the "Castle House," as it was affectionately called by the locals, she and her then husband, Jerry, had their work cut out for them.  The beautiful but drafty home had not been updated in years and time had not been kind to the house. Besides restoring the home, the Kappels would also have to furnish the place.  Ms. Kappel reported that she had moved into the home from a small apartment and would spend the next seventeen years adding period furniture and other antiques, some of which came from a beloved grandmother's home in New Albany, Indiana.

Maintaining and restoring such a home required an income so during the day the talented artist worked for an ad agency.  She noted that most of her best personal art came after she moved out of the house in 1991.  She had little time to create while living in the Johnson Home because she was busy raising a family and restoring the place.

In the summer of 1975, Pegg Kennedy, a journalist for the Indianapolis News, along with photographer Bob Doeppers visited the Kappels for a story.  They took several shots of the young couple.  In the top photo, Carol Kappel sat in the formal parlor surrounded by 1970s-era furniture that had been in her previous apartment.  She would later transfer this room back into a beautiful Victorian gathering place.  In the second photo, Jerry Kappel stands in the formal entryway.  At some point, previous owners added arches, a popular architectural feature from the 1920s through the 1940s.  A future owner, Toni James, removed the arches and replaced them with historic squared bays and transoms.

Carol Kappel (5631 University Avenue) posed for this photo in the summer of 1975 for the Indianapolis News. Photo credit:  Bob Doeppers

Jerry Kappel stood in the entryway of 5631 University Avenue in the summer of 1975, Photo Credit:  Bob Doeppers

5631 University Avenue in the summer of 1975, photo credit:  Bob Doeppers

As for Carol Kappel, she later went on to become an award-winning artist.  She won a Clio and has been featured in various art publications and exhibitions.  Two of her pieces included the Johnson Home.  They can be seen below.  She notes, "I have always seen life as a seamless mural of vibrance and sadness, great beauty and sordid ugliness, tragedy and comedy."

Exit From "Ugly Gables," mixed media by Carol Kappel

Johnson Home by Carol Kappel, 1991

The historic images and art are courtesy of Carol Kappel.  More information for this post came from: Pegg Kennedy, "Johnson House Challenge to Young Married Couple," Indianapolis News, August 13, 1975.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Kappels Move into the Johnson Home--1974

When Carol and Jerry Kappel (rhymes with apple) saw the for sale sign in front of the Johnson Home at 5631 University Avenue in 1974, it was love at first sight.  Ms. Kappel reports that it was autumn and Irvington's trees were ablaze with color.  The young couple had no idea of what awaited them. They took the plunge and began to negotiate with the Cooney family who were selling the manse for $29, 900.  By December, they had the keys to their new home.  Immediately, the couple discovered problems.  Raw sewage leaking from pipes, water dripping through several ceilings, broken windows in the upper stories, and bird colonies roosting in the the home's storied towers were just the beginning of problematic scenarios for the Kappels.  Ms. Kappel worked as an art director for an ad agency while Mr. Kappel, a local actor, ran a children's theater.  Neither of the duo brought home riches from their jobs so when an engineer warned them that the back tower could collapse without some serious repointing and roof work, the couple likely wondered what they had gotten into.  Ms. Kappel laughed as she told me that they named the home "Ugly Gables" after removing layers of bird dung on the bricks of the upper story.  She quickly noted that the title was one of affection and that even though she has not lived in the home for twenty-four years, she still dreams about the place. The Kappel family dwelled in the home from 1974 to 1990.

In the top three photos, taken in 1974 and 1975, you can see what the home looked like when the family moved in.  A side porch, removed in the 1990s, still existed as well as several trees around the house.  The color photo, taken in 1975, reveals the condition of the back tower.  The bottom photo, taken in 1990, was shot in the last year that Carol and her daughter Chase lived in this very special home.

Carpenter Realtor photo of 5631 University Avenue in 1974...note the former side porch

5631 University Avenue in the winter of 1974

Tower trouble in 1975

Gorgeous shot of Johnson Home in by Carol Kappel

The photos and stories for this post are courtesy of Carol Kappel.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Two Irvington Icons from the 20th Century

Family physician, Dr. Walter Kelly (on the left) and local dentist, Dr. Silas Carr, Jr. (on the right) sat on the steps of the Kelly home at 6845 East Pleasant Run Parkway South Drive north of Irvington sometime in the early 1950s.  The two men had been best friends for years and both were well-respected pillars in the community.  Dr. Kelly operated out of several offices in the area including in a previous home at 237-39 South Audubon Road. On November 13, 1912, the physician would be one of the first medics to the scene of a terrible train crash on South Arlington Avenue and the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. Dr. Kelly worked through the night to try to save as many of the injured as he could although several died that cold night.  Flurries had just started to fall.  Dr. Carr operated a prosperous dentistry office along East Washington Street.  He also had a knack for business and he built a large two-story commercial building in the 5400 block of East Washington Street to house an auto showroom and offices.  Dr. Carr dwelled at 76 N. Whittier Place in a home designed by his brother, Marrett Carr, and later in an even grander home at 520 North Audubon Road.  It would be without question that nearly every Irvington resident from 1910 to 1960 would know one or both of these men.  Both were admired and both men practiced well past retirement age.  What might they have been talking about on that beautiful day when this photo was taken?  Dr. Carr is pointing at something?  A beautiful bird?  An airplane?  A tree?  Had they been reminiscing about their careers?  Certainly, Dr. Kelly might have been noting all of the babies he brought into this world while Dr. Carr could point out the number of folks who could smile because of him.  Their names continuously emerge in the oral histories of the people who have called this neighborhood "home."

Drs. Walter Kelly and Dr. Silas Carr c1950
The historic image and information for this post was courtesy of Laura Hildreth and Lydia Talbot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ridgeview Drive Bungalows Then and Now

Ridgeview Drive is aptly named.  Lowell Avenue slightly inclines east of Arlington until it intersects with this lovely tree-lined street.  North of Lowell Avenue, contractors busily constructed numerous bungalows in the 1910s and 1920s all along the drive.  Rollen and Georgia Leonard moved into their home at 339 North Ridgeview Drive in the mid-1920s. Their daughter, Glenna, became the subject of numerous photographs including this one snapped in the spring of 1933.  Little Glenna certainly looked dashing with her hat as she posed on that warm day.  Behind her, you can see three bungalows across the street at 328, 322, and 320 North Ridgeview Drive.

In the lovely bungalow closest to Glenna, dwelled the Smith family at 328 North Ridgeview Drive.  Thirty-three-year-old Charles N. worked as a superintendent for a telephone company while his thirty-four-old wife, Emily, worked as a substitute teacher. She might have been tipped off about the job from her neighbor, William R. Krickenberger, who taught math for the Indianapolis Public Schools.  You will note that this bungalow today is one of the most impressively restored of its style in the entire neighborhood. This home was valued at $7,000 in 1930 and was owned by the Smiths.

Forty-seven-year-old William Roy and forty-four-year-old Katherine Krickenberger owned the brick bungalow at 322 North Ridgeview Drive.  Their home was valued at $9,000 in 1930 and was one of the most expensive on the block.  Mr. Krickenberger, a local math teacher, had already authored two mathematics books by 1933.  In 1927, he wrote Algebra, published the Bobbs-Merrill Company, a textbook used in high schools all over the United States.  When Glenna Leonard posed for this photograph in 1933, Mr. Krickenberger had just published another work titled, Plane Geometry (Ginn & Company). The Krickenbergers had one son, Craig, who was six years old in 1933.

The most distant home in the photo, belonged to Lawrence and Blanche Schremer, at 320 North Ridgeview Drive.  The unusual bungalow still retains its interesting shape in 2013. Mr. Schremer owned a "beverage and cigar house."  His business was definitely not in keeping with the accepted morals of the dry neighborhood.  The young couple had no children as of 1933.  Their home was valued at $7,500 in 1930.

This historic image is courtesy of Jim Brandenburg.

Glenna Leonard in 1933:  Behind her you can see 328, 322, and 320 North Ridgeview Drive.

328, 322, and 320 North Ridgeview Drive in the autumn of 2013

William R. Krickenberger, of 322 North Ridgeview Drive, co-authored this book in 1927

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wonderful Frederick Polley Sketch Shows Doomed East Washington Street Block in 1933

When Irvington artist and illustrator, Frederick Polley (371 South Emerson Avenue), sketched this scene eighty years ago, he probably never envisioned that in time every structure in this drawing would be demolished.  Clearly, the most unique structure on the north side of the 5400 block of East Washington Street was the Irvington Fire House. Notice the the wood shake on the second story and the steep gable.   Carr's Hall, the long building in the center of the print, belonged to Dr. Silas Carr, a local dentist and entrepreneur.  The structured served as an auto showroom on the first floor with offices and meeting spaces on the second story. The building was designed by Marrett L. Carr, the brother to Silas.  Many local artists also displayed their exhibitions in the structure.  Mr. Polley sketched numerous people in front of the building. Perhaps they were there to attend a gallery opening.   Mr. Polley added the very modern touch of an airplane flying overhead.

In the decades following the creation of this print, Irvingtonians and others tore down each one of these buildings, including Carr's Hall as recently as 1999.  I often view the period of time between 1970 and 2000 as the "time of troubles" for the neighborhood.  As people continued to flee for the suburbs, the commercial area along Washington Street struggled. In the early 1990s, citizens allowed the destruction of several buildings for the erection of a Walgreens Drug Store complete with a large parking lot along the street.  In the early millennia, the community added another suburban building housing a grocery store and a dental office.  Developers in both cases added unsympathetic structures that paid no heed to the architectural fabric of the neighborhood.

Mr. Polley's drawing ultimately found its way into the Carr-Hildreth collections. Both families generously supported local artists including Mr. Polley.  I am very grateful to Laura Hildreth, the granddaughter of Dr. Silas Carr, for this loaning me this print.  She also managed to save one of the parapets from Carr's Hall after it was leveled.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Scenes Along Ridgeview Drive in the 1920s

Herbert Hoover was President of the United States when the Leonard family snapped the top two historic images of beautiful little Glenna Leonard in 1928.  Rollen Glen and Georgia Leonard moved into a bungalow at 339 North Ridgeview Drive in the mid-1920s and remained into the mid-1940s.  In the top image, Glenna posed in the front yard of the family home in the summer of 1928.  Behind her you can see the two-story home at 332 North Ridgeview Drive and the side of the smaller bungalow at 328 North Ridgeview Drive. Forty-four-year -old Cecil Earle and thirty-seven-year-old Elizabeth Lee Smith lived in the larger home with their children Harmon and Virginia, and with fifty-eight-year-old Lilly Lee, the mother of Mrs. Smith.  The Smiths dwelled along Lowell Avenue before moving into their spacious new home in the 1920s.  Mr. Smith was a manager of a local publishing company.  Next door, at 328 North Ridgeview Drive lived Charles N. and Emily W. Smith. Both in their late twenties, Mr. Smith worked as a supervisor for a local telephone company while Mrs. Smith served as a substitute teacher for local high schools.  The contemporary image of the same view today reveals that the larger home has been altered over the years with the removal of the roof overhang along with the knee braces. You will also note that the front porch has been enclosed  that the dining room bay has been removed on the north side of the house.  The smaller bungalow at 328 North Ridgeview has been beautifully restored to its original appearance.

Glenna Leonard in her front yard in 1928.  Behind her, you can see 332 and 328 N. Ridgeview Drive.

332 and 328 North Ridgeview Drive in 2013.

In the second historic image, taken in the winter of 1928, Glenna Leonard posed in front of her home at 339 North Ridgeview Drive.  Behind her, you can see the charming bungalows at 329 and 323 North Ridgeview Drive.  Charles F. and Clara Woodstock rented the bungalow at 329 North Ridgeview for $50 a month.  Mr. Woodstock was a foreman at a local tire company.  The couple had two adult children still living at home at the time this photo was taken.  Their son Norman worked as an operator at an oil business while their daughter Dorothy cut, bobbed, coifed, and washed hair in a nearby beauty salon.  Next door, at 327 North Ridgeivew Drive, Edward A. and Edna M. Kelly lived along with Frederick Guy, a nephew to Mr. Kelly.  Mr. Kelly served as a manager for a furniture company and he employed his fifteen-year old nephew as well.  The contemporary photo, taken in 2013, reveals that the little has changed with these bungalows in the eighty-five years since the photo was first snapped.

Glenna Leonard stands in front of her home in 1928. Behind her you can see 339, 329, and 323 North Ridgeview Drive.

329 and 323 North Ridgeview Drive in 2013

Rollen G. and Georgia Leonard dwelled at 339 North Ridgeview Drive.  These photos show the couple before they were married and before they moved into the Irvington Terrace neighborhood.  Their lovely home still stands although significantly altered.  (see previous post)

Rollen Glen Leonard

Georgia Leonard

The Leonard family home at 339 North Ridgeview Drive in 1933

Many thanks to Jim Brandenburg for these wonderful historic images.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Irvington Terrace Bungalow Then and Now

Ridgeview Drive cuts through the heart of Irvington Terrace, a neighborhood in the far eastern section of Irvington.  The first folks to settle here likely came in the late nineteenth century, but this area did not really take off until the construction of Pleasant Run Parkway in 1909.  Speculators and dreamers alike built many beautiful Arts and Crafts, Dutch Colonial, and American Four Square styled homes in a burst of activity from 1910 through 1940.  One of those many structures erected during that time period was that of the Leonard Home at 339 North Ridgeview Drive.  This beautiful bungalow sat and still sits atop a small hill.  Rollen Glen Leonard worked as a draftsman.  He was employed for the Link Belt Company and designed floor-cleaning machines.  His wife, Georgia, was a piano teacher and instructed her students on a beautiful grand piano.  In this wonderful photograph, taken in 1933, Georgia Leonard posed with her daughter Glenna on a summer day.  If you look closely, you can see the young girl's tricycle parked nearby.  Because the house faced west, the Leonards added an awning to help with the summer heat.  A contemporary photograph, taken in 2013, reveals that the charming bungalow has been significantly altered, however, you can see remnants of the former home behind the newer facade.

Georgia and Glenna Leonard posed in front of 339 North Ridgeview Drive in 1933.

339 North Ridgeview Drive in 2013.  
This historic image and information on the Leonard family is courtesy of Jim Brandenburg.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Houses for Sale--1910

The brand new subdivision of Emerson Heights, just west of Irvington, advertised in many local newspapers in 1910, including the Indiana Catholic.  The ad boasted of "no taxes until 1912" and macadam streets.  Developers placed esplanades down several of the avenues and built beautiful Arts and Crafts bungalows and American Four Squares next to some Dutch Colonial dwellings.  Clearly catering to the growing middle-class Roman Catholic population on the east side, the ad spoke of Our Lady of Lourdes Church located in nearby Irvington.  Residents who dwell in the area today will notice that the illustrator seems to have made a few mistakes with regards to street names.  You will also note, that if the map is accurate, then only a few homes had been constructed by the summer of 1910.  The current neighborhood association has an incredible gallery of historic and contemporary images. Be sure to click on the link and then under the "Gallery" section select the "Development Book-Historic Photos" tab.