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. 

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