Saturday, November 7, 2015

Who Lived Here? The Belzers of South Audubon Road

Nestled in a grove sits the charming Belzer home located at 320 South Audubon Road. Many of the tree specimens on the property were likely planted by Francis O. Belzer, an executive with the Boy Scouts organization. Mr. Belzer grew up in Lawrence Township and married Prunetta Hunter in 1892. The couple had one child, Katherine, in 1900. Mr. Belzer began his career in education as a principal in a four-room schoolhouse in Castleton in 1899. He then moved to Oaklandon and eventually down into the city of Indianapolis where he served as the principal of School #58 and others before teaching at Manual High School.  In 1904, the couple and their daughter moved into the beautiful Queen Anne home at 320 South Audubon Road. It would remain part of the Belzer family until 1980.

The Boy Scouts of America started in 1910 and in the next year Mr. Belzer started Troop Number Nine at the Irvington Methodist Church. In 1915, he took a leave of absence from the city schools to run the Boys Scouts in Marion County.  In that same year, tragedy struck the family with the death of Prunetta Belzer. Fifteen-year-old Katherine and her father had only each other now.  She would later graduate from Butler University and become a social worker. She never married and dwelled in the family home until her death in 1980.

Mr. Belzer became a beloved member of the community. Thousands of young boys joined the scouts during his tenure as their leader. He started the Cross Roads of America Band in 1917 and he shepherded the Scouts to focusing more on the outdoors and less on athletics. In 1933, he traveled with some local boys to the World Jamboree in Budapest, Hungary.  Towards the end of his life, the Boy Scouts honored him by naming a camp after him in Lawrence Township. Later, school officials would also name the Belzer Middle School for him.

Sometime in 1926, Mr. Belzer posed for this photo for a book titled, Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis. He was a well-known figure in the city and many local leaders counted him as one of their mentors.

320 South Audubon Road in 2015

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