Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who Lived Here? The Whitney Family of Lowell Avenue

Karl G. and Ella "Gertrude" Potter Whitney moved into 5869 Lowell Avenue in 1920. They were not the first to dwell in the house as at least two other families predated them. Mr. Whitney was a business partner in the Irvington Hardware Store first located at 5505 East Washington Street and later at 5539 East Washington Street. The business was quite successful as the Indianapolis Star reported in 1925 that the partnership had assets of $20,000. In 1926, the forty-year-old businessman sat for a portrait for a book called Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis.  He and his partners eventually got out of the hardware business and by 1929 they sold life insurance. Mrs. Whitney stayed home and raised the couple's two children, Marian and Neil.  The couple continued to dwell in the house for the next thirty years. Their daughter, Marian and her husband John Church, resided in the abode well into the 1960s.

A member of the Whitney family dwelled at 5869 Lowell Avenue from 1920 until 1964.

In the late 1910s, Karl and Gertrude Whitney resided at 5866 Lowell Avenue. 

The Whitneys had been quite a fixture along Lowell Avenue as they first rented at 5866 Lowell Avenue in the late 1910s. Controversy enveloped the area in the spring of 1936 when a widow, Olive M. Ellis, petitioned the city of Indianapolis to remodel the small home at 60 North Campbell Avenue into a multi-unit apartment building. The Campbell Avenue home was just behind the Whitney property and the couple could not fathom the thought of so many people along the already crowded Campbell Avenue. In April of 1936, the Whitneys along with their neighbors, the Siegesmunds of 61 North Campbell Avenue; the Iversons of 44 North Campbell Avenue; the Johnsons of 5871 Lowell Avenue; the Schoens of 5901 Lowell Avenue, and the Jones family of 5865 Lowell Avenue filed a lawsuit with the Board of Zoning to stop Ms. Ellis from getting a variance. The neighbors' fears soon came to pass as Ms. Ellis did not follow through with her plan. She did not live in the neighborhood and later passed away in 1943. ( Indianapolis Star, January 28, 1936, 3; Indianapolis Star April 15, 1936, 24; Indianapolis Star, January 28, 1943, 3)

Scene of Controversy: In 1936, Olive Ellis sought to obtain a variance to expand the house at 60 North Campbell Avenue into a four-story apartment building. Neighbors fought her in court. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Historic Building Collapses

Residents of Irvington awoke to the sad news today that at around 4:30 AM, the former East Side State Bank and now Jack and Jill's Antique Mall at 5501 East Washington Street had collapsed. The top part of the front facade fell onto East Washington Street. The building was constructed during the summer of 1913 and served as a bank well into the 1980s. The future of the building is unclear at this point.

A section of the former East Side State Bank collapsed at 4:30 AM on September 19, 2016 (photo courtesy of Fox59News)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who Lived Here? The Osborne Family of Poplar Road

In 1925, Thomas C. and Ethel Claffey Osborne moved into their two-year-old home at 411 Poplar Road in the brand new Pleasanton section of Irvington. Mr. Osborne had earned a comfortable living as a broker who distributed fruits and vegetables. The Osbornes dwelled in one of the larger homes in the new suburb of Irvington. Their lovely four-bedroom American Four Square also had a porte-cochère for guests as they pulled into the drive. Many other homes in Pleasanton also had this feature. In 1926, Mr. Osborne posed for a photo for a book called Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis. His business was likely doing quite well during the Roaring 20s. The 1930 Federal Census reveals that the Osborne home was worth $10,000. The couple had two children, a boy and girl, both named after their parents--Thomas and Ethel. 

In 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, Mr. Osborne died at the age of 49 in his home. Mrs. Osborne managed to keep the house through these very difficult times. She began working and also moved her mother, Johanna Claffey, into the residence. On Christmas Day in 1938, the Indianapolis Star reported on the joyful wedding of Ethel, her daughter, to the Reverend Joseph Edwards at the Shelby Street Methodist Church. Her new son-in-law and daughter moved into the Poplar Road house. In the following year, her son, Thomas also married and he too brought his new bride back to the house. The 1940 Federal Census reveals a full house! Two married couples, one grandson, along with Mrs. Osborne and her mother now lived in the Four Square. Like most Irvington homes, the Great Depression had affected the value of the home as it dropped to $7,000 in 1940.

Mrs. Osborne married a man named William Mize and continued to reside at 411 Poplar Road until 1953. City directories reveal that after this date she lived alone and on Emerson Avenue. She died in 1972. 

411 Poplar Road in 2016