Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rare Photo of First Irvington Presbyterian Church c1917

Mary and Robert Stevenson moved into Irvington in 1915.  The couple had married in 1909 and first dwelled in Muncie before moving to 275 South Audubon Road.  Mrs. Stevenson, the photographer in the family, walked around her new neighborhood and snapped several shots.  A life-long Presbyterian, she meandered over to the intersection of Johnson and Julian Avenues and took a photo of the Irvington Presbyterian Church around 1917. Later in her life she would dwell across the street at 112 Johnson Avenue.

Designed by local architect, Bennajah Weesner ( 5728 Rawles Avenue) and constructed by Louis Richardson ( 5506 University Avenue), the Presbyterians dedicated the church on January 10, 1909. Jonathan C. Day served as the first minister.  The board of trustees struggled in the beginning to pay for the new church, but as the neighborhood grew, residents like the Stevensons were invited to join and "subscribe."  Emily McAdams in her book Irvington Presbyterian Church 1906-1956 noted that membership expanded from 376 congregants in 1919 to 687 by 1927.  The Presbyterians eventually demolished the older and smaller 1909 structure for a grander edifice in 1928.

Mrs. Stevenson's photo likely dates to around 1917 or 1918 as the apartments located on Johnson Avenue can be seen in the photo. They were constructed in 1916 with the first residents moving into the new structures in the following year.

The First Irvington Presbyterian Church located at the intersection of Johnson and Julian Avenues c1917
Source:  Emily McAdams, Irvington Presbyterian Church 1906-1956, (Indianapolis: 1956) The historic image is courtesy of Ted Lollis.

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