Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Lavelle Family Moves into a Prairie Beauty--1924

     The beautiful brick home located at 5720 Lowell Avenue is one of the best examples of the Prairie style located within the city of Indianapolis. Built in 1923, the first folks to call this stunning structure “home” were members of the Lavelle family. Thomas Aloysius and Flora McDonnell Lavelle along with four of their seven children moved in and remained until 1939.  Mr. Lavelle owned and ran a large foundry so he could afford the $15,000 price tag for tasteful home. Prairie architects sought to create a uniquely American style free of the European rules. The Lavelle home is unlike any other in the neighborhood. Thankfully, it has been beautifully restored.  

On the porch of their new home at 5720 Lowell Avenue: Thomas and Flora Lavelle with their children John, Lucy, Florence, and Nancy c1925

Gathering in the backyard of 5720 Lowell Avenue c1925: Flora, Thomas, Lucy, Nancy, Florence, and John Lavelle

5720 Lowell Avenue in 2014
The historic photos are courtesy of the Lavelle family via

Friday, July 25, 2014

Color Photo of Missions Building--1955

The Disciples of Christ had been operating the Missions facility at 222 South Downey Avenue for forty-five years when this photo was published in the form of a postcard in 1955.  The organization sent missionaries all over the world and invited many people from faraway lands to help train Americans.  The organization eventually obtained the Bona Thompson Library when Butler University moved to the Fairview campus in 1928. Over the years they added wings, an auditorium, and a community room on to the sprawling site.  In fact, the complex became the international headquarters for the Disciple of Christ and churches from all around the world received memos, letters, and missives from 222 South Downey Avenue.  This image shows the structures on a beautiful early autumn day. You can also see that Downey and Ohmer Avenues were still bricked in the mid-20th century. If you look closely, you can see the edge of the Bona Thompson Library at the far left with long boat-like automobiles parked in a nearby lot.

The Disciples of Christ maintained their international headquarters at the Missions Building (222 South Downey Avenue). It can be seen here in 1955.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

IPS #58 Graduation Photo--1929

They all dressed in white.  The girls donned a bobbed style while most of the boys slicked down their hair.  In the early summer of 1929, the USA was still roaring.  In just a few months after the snapping of this photo, the stock market would plunge catapulting the nation into the Great Depression.  These fourteen-year-olds had no idea that their lives were about the change.  What became of them?  Thankfully, we do know the names of every child in this photo.  They attended the Ralph Waldo Emerson School (1907) at 321 North Linwood Avenue also known as School #58.  The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places and was recently renovated.

Indianapolis Public School #58 Graduates in 1929

Row One:  Margaret Buckles, Vivian White, Helen Murdock, Emma Elizabeth Hallett, Thelma Alvey, Virginia Tharpe, Margaret Hennis, Radonna Graham, June Sproule, Frieda Jones

Row Two: Eva Grace Hale, Violet Hohn, Martha Schwartzenbtraub, Marian Wortman, Mary Elizabeth Neese, Virginia Wickard, Ruth Engleman, Carolyn Paine, Margaret Hetherington, Alice Bobbitt, Frances Higenbotham

Row Three:  Paul Lang, Jr., Harold Cooper, Harry Madison, Ralph Wilson, Harold Bronstrup, Roland Irwin, Hugh Weber, Harry Zaklan, Raymond Rhodes

Row Four:  Richard Ricketts, Edmond Murray, Herbert Leyendecker, Jack Scearce, Charles Pringle, William Schmitz, Robert Williams, Gustav Jordan

Row Five:  Jack Bridwell, Le Roy Dusing, Harry Marshall, Donas Dischinger, Robert Seers, Charles Johnson, Howard Chandler

Indianapolis Public School #58 in 2014 after a recent renovation

Friday, July 18, 2014

Azbell Distribution Company c1950

Entrepreneur Fred Azbell opened his own business in the mid-twentieth century selling Bowes Auto Parts.  Eventually, he secured a commercial building at 5021 East Michigan Street and operated at this site from 1950 through the mid-1960s until his untimely passing. The building was first constructed for Harry Asche in 1918 to service east side automobile owners.  Many others operated out of this garage including Charles P. Culley in the 1920s, John L. Manson in the 1930s, and a business called Wheeler and Gossett Auto Repairs in the 1940s. Mr. Azbell enclosed the central garage bay and turned the structure into an auto parts distribution center.  Spark plugs, wheelcaps, and just about any other Bowes parts were available to Irvington residents. The top image revealed the exterior of the structure in the 1950s.  In the second photo, Mr. Azbell on the right met with a client possibly in a filling station at 5135 East 10th Street.  In the third historic photo, Mr. Azbell proudly posed next to the Bowes Auto trucks c1945. The contemporary photo shows the early twentieth-century structure in 2014.

The Azbell Distributing Company at 5021 East Michigan Street (formerly 5019) c1950

Fred Azbell, on the right, visited one of his customers--possibly in a filling station 5135  East 10th Street run by Joe Himmel

Fred Azbell next to Bowes Auto Parts company car c1945

5021 East Michigan Street in 2014.  Harry Asche built the garage in 1918.  
The historic images are courtesy of Barbara Sanders.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Brick Tudor-Revival in Northern Irvington

Most of the homes in the 1100 block of North Butler Avenue were built in the 1920s although the lovely brick Tudor-Revival structure at 1121 North Butler Avenue was not completed until 1933. The Kennelly family was the first to call the dwelling "home." By the mid-20th century, when these photos were snapped, Peter and Hazel Ruden lived in the house.  Mr. Ruden served as a manager for the Philco Radio Equipment Corporation. Mrs. Ruden stayed at home and became good friends with her neighbors, including the Azbells who resided at 1115 North Butler Avenue. The historic photos show the Ruden home and the Azbell family.

Posed with Mom:  Little Barbara Azbell held onto Vivian Azbell's hand in 1943. Behind the mother and daughter you can see 1121 North Butler Avenue.  

Easter 1938:  Fred Azbell affectionately posed with his mother, Winifred Azbell. It must have been a little chilly as Mrs. Azbell clutched her hands. Behind the pair, you can see 1121 North Butler Avenue which had only been standing for four years.  

A Visit With a Kind Neighbor:   Hazel Ruden sat on her back stoop at 1121 North Butler Avenue in 1952 with her  child, Barbara, and little Ricky Azbell nearby.  

Visiting:  Vivian Azbell (1115 North Butler Avenue) stopped by to see her neighbor, Hazel Ruden (center) at 1121 North Butler Avenue.  Barbara Azbell remained engrossed with a book. She would later go on and become a teacher. The photo was likely taken around 1958.  

1121 North Butler Avenue in 2014.  Other homes with a similar design dot the northern part of the neighborhood.  
 The historic images are courtesy of Barbara Sanders.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Scenes Along North Butler Avenue in the 1940s

The 1100 block of North Butler Avenue was at the far edge of the city in 1943. In fact, the people who canvased the area for the Polk's City Directory did not go north of East 12th Street as it was considered suburban.  Most of the homes north of 10th Street along the avenue were built in the 1920s. The following historic images were all taken between 1943 through 1945. The photos show several of the houses along the block and the rooflines of those in the distance.  Contemporary photos show the area in 2014.

Azbell Auto Distribution Trucks 1943:  Behind the vehicles, you can see the brick American Four Square at 1102 North Butler Avenue and the bungalow next door at 1110 North Butler Avenue. The Von Burgs and Keplers dwelled here in the mid-1940s.  

Family Portrait:  Fred Azbell posed with his daughter, Barbara, and the family dog in 1943. Behind them, you can see 1110 North Butler Avenue.

Family Shot:  Fred Azbell held onto both his daughter, Barbara, and the family dog in 1943.  Behind the family you can see 1110 North Butler Avenue and the smaller bungalow at 1114 North Butler Avenue.  Eleanor Hodde dwelled in the smaller house in 1943.  She was a bookkeeper for the Wm. Lynn Chemical Company.  

Cute Girl:  Barbara Azbell posed atop the bumper of the family vehicle in 1944. Behind her  you can see both 1102 and 1110 North Butler Avenue.  

Barbara Azbell posed in 1944 atop the family car.  Behind her you can see the residence Harry and Dorothy Von Burg at 1102 North Butler Avenue.  Mr. Von Burg was in management for a local insurance company. Note that the house used to have a balustrade railing on the porch roof.  

Good Neighbor:  Delores Surrey greeted Barbara Azbell in 1945.  Mrs. Surrey dwelled at 1107 North Butler Avenue. You can see the rear of her home as well as that of 1103 North Butler Avenue.  

1102 and 1110 North Butler Avenue in 2014

1102 and 1110 North Butler Avenue in 2014
The historic images are courtesy of Barbara Sanders.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Butler Avenue 1943 and Now

While Fred Azbell was away serving the country during World War II, his father-in-law, T. Newton White, took over the family business located at 1115 North Butler Avenue.  Mr. Azbell ran his auto distribution company out of his garage and home office.  He eventually moved the company to 5019 East Michigan Street.  In this photo, snapped in 1943, little Barbara Azbell sat atop one of the company vehicles.  The home at the far left at 1115 North Butler Avenue belonged to the Azbells. The larger home at 1107 North Butler Avenue housed Ralph and Irene Johns.  Mr. Johns served as a department manager for the Indiana Credit Men's Service Association.  Next door at 1103 North Butler Avenue dwelled Edward and Laura Rees.  Mr. Rees was listed as a salesman in the 1943 Polk's City Directory.  The contemporary photo shows the same view in 2014.

Azbell Distribution Company trucks along the 1100 block of North Butler Avenue in 1943

1100 block of North Butler Avenue in 2014
The historic image is courtesy of Barbara Sanders.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's a Wonderful Life Along Butler Avenue

The Azbell family celebrated two joyous births in the 1940s.  In top photo, Fred and Vivian Azbell welcomed little Barbara Azbell into their lives in 1942 at their home at 1115 North Butler Avenue.  Someone has sent the family roses which sat in a mid-century vase on a table nearby.  In the second photo, the entire clan gathered to welcome Fred Jr., or Ricky as he was to be called, in 1947.  His grandparents, Pearl and T. Newton White hovered above him while his parents, Fred and Vivian Azbell sat on the chair.  His sister Barbara was clearly checking out the new competition. Bob Hoover (1124 North Butler Avenue), a photographer for the Indianapolis News, managed to get in this photo as well.  Both children would grow up in the house on Butler Avenue.

Fred, Vivian and Barbara Azbell in 1942 at 1115 North Butler Avenue (photo by Bob Hoover)

Wonderfully Staged:  Pearl (in print dress) and T. Newton White above; Vivian, little Ricky, Fred, and Barbara Azbell on chair; Bob Hoover next to the family (in bow tie) in 1947; photo by Bob Hoover

1115 North Butler Avenue c1938

1115 North Butler Avenue 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Soldiers Home on Leave--1944

They gathered in the living room in the home of Fred and Vivian Azbell at 1115 North Butler Avenue for a beer and a smoke. The stories they had to share have been lost, but they likely had many to tell.  Fred Azbell, at the far right in the photo, hosted the event. He had just returned from the European sphere of the war. Bob Hoover, a photographer for the Indianapolis News and neighbor at 1124 North Butler Avenue, stopped by as well and snapped these wonderful images. We do not know the full name of the young man on the far left, but we do know his first name was Pat. Seated next to him was John Lynch, and Bob Carey. The clock on the mantel noted that it was 10:00PM.

In the second photo, Mr. Hoover captured a more domestic scene taken a little earlier around 9:10PM. Little Barbara Azbell studied her mother pensively and likely noticed that both of her parents beamed with joy that night.  The war was not over yet, but for at least one night in one cottage on Butler Avenue laughter could be heard.

Soldiers on leave: Pat ?, John Lynch, Bob Carey, and Fred Azbell at 1115 North Butler Avenue in 1944 (Photo by Bob Hoover)

Happy family:  Fred, Barbara, and Vivian Azbell at 1115 North Butler Avenue in 1944 (Photo by Bob Hoover)
The historic images are courtesy of Barbara Azbell Sanders.