Four years ago this month, I started down an unknown path. Could I create a blog that concentrated on collecting historic photos of the Irvington neighborhood in Indianapolis? Would people visit the site? Would the site become self-sustaining? In other words, if I built it...would you come? Needless to say, Vintage Irvington has exceeded my expectations. I have been fortunate in that several people have been very generous with their family collections. Some of have sought me out from all corners of the country. It turns out that this neighborhood has been very special in the lives of so many people.
Contributors From the Last Year
In the winter of 2013, I met Leland Dickerson, a World War II veteran, whose brother was tragically killed towards the end of the war. He generously loaned me dozens of shots of the neighborhood dating back to the 1930s. Barbara Sanders had deep roots in the area on both sides of her family. Thanks to her generosity I was able to post shots of the former White Farm at East 10th and Shadeland Avenue as well as of nearby areas on East New York Street and North Butler Avenue. Suzette Hagan's family photos of 5621 Beechwood Avenue depicted fascinating glimpses into the lives of 1950s-era Irvingtonians. I also received wonderful photos and stories from Bill Ferling, Paula Schmidt, David Bailey, Richard C. Gaskill, Carol Oribison, D.J. Smith, Brad Amiano, Terry Wilgus, the Stroude Family, Brian Callahan, and Larry Muncie. This blog would not be possible without the kindness of these current or former Irvington residents. Do you have a scrapbook filled with Irvington photos? I would love to speak to you! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, in the four years that Vintage Irvington has been in operation, the site has received 115, 367 hits. While most of the readers hail from the United States, Vintage Irvington has received hundreds and in some cases thousands of hits from Russia, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Ukraine, Turkey, Latvia, and Poland. Curiosity seekers from dozens of other nations have also landed upon the blog.
Highlights From the Past Year
I have always had a soft spot for photos that show men and women returning from World War II. In this image, snapped in February of 1943, Harry Perkins, Leland Dickerson, and Curly Morris posed along the 5800 block of Lowell Avenue. They look joyful as snow melted about them on the warm winter day. (Photo courtesy of Leland Dickerson)
Bill Ferling was kind enough to lend me photos from the collection of the Irvington Presbyterian Church. This beautiful image shows the stunning structure on an early spring day in 1953. Note the historic double still standing just east of the church where the parking lot sits today.
David Bailey grew up along South Emerson Avenue near the former Butler University. Mr. Bailey, an avid reader and history lover, contributed many stunning photos to this blog including this image of Butler students on "clean up" day in 1917.
Carol Orbison's family grew up in Irvington. She generously loaned me photos from her father and grandfather's photo collection. This image depicts the Orbison family home at 51 North Irvington Avenue in 1912.
Paula Schmidt has graciously not only donated images, but she has also been a guest writer several times on this blog. One of her stories this year was of the Thormeyer family at 93 South Butler Avenue. Paula traveled to Austin, Indiana to learn more about these interesting people and came back with some wonderful stories and images. In this photo taken c1935, the Thormeyer women stand near the family home on Butler Avenue.
Barbara Azbell Sanders has deep roots in Irvington. Her mother's people owned a farm just east of the neighborhood at 10th and Shadeland Avenue. There is not a shred of a farm at that intersection today, so I am particularly grateful to Mrs. Sanders for being so generous with her collection. In this photo, snapped in 1937, members of the White family gathered for a reunion at their farmhouse. (now demolished)
Mrs. Sanders also contributed several other photos that showed life in other parts of the neighborhood. I particularly loved this photo of Vivian and Barbara Azbell in their riding attire. Behind them, you can see 4910, 4914, and 4918-20 East New York Street in 1938.
Fred Azbell ran Azbell Distribution Company, a business that sold auto parts. In this photo, little Barbara Azbell sits atop one vehicle in the family fleet along the 1100 block of North Butler Avenue in 1943. Her grandfather, Thomas White, briefly took over the family business while her father served in World War II. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Sanders)
The Becker family dwelled in a stunning Arts and Crafts home at 5621 Beechwood Avenue. On November 27, 1954, Julius and Gloria Pirtle Becker celebrated their wedding day in the Becker home. Family members and friends from all over the Midwest traversed to Irvington to rejoice with the young couple despite the snowy conditions outside. In this photo, members of the Pirtle and Becker family gathered for the wedding photographer. (Photo courtesy of Suzette Hagan)