Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pennsylvania Railway Line Then and Now

In the spring of 1941, Barbara Jones and Donna Garland grabbed a camera and walked around Irvington to pose for different shots. The young women inadvertently documented various sites around the neighborhood including this image of the Pennsylvania Railway. You will note that in 1941, the crossing guard used to be located in the middle of the street! One has to wonder how many cars plowed into that concrete base. Behind Miss Garland, you can clearly see the lovely cottage located at 108 South Audubon Road.

Dr. John R. Scherer (1891-1977) and his wife Rosa Youngling Scherer (1892-1971) dwelled in the house at the time of the photo. The Scherers along with their three children had resided there since 1932. Dr. Scherer purchased the home from Dr. John Anderson.  The Scherers moved out of the city in 1944.  Eventually the home was enlarged into a double in 1952 or 1953.

The Pennsylvania Railway has now been converted into a beautiful walking and biking path in 2016.

Donna Garland, photographed by Barbara Jones, posed in the middle of South Audubon Road near the Pennsylvania Railway in the spring of 1941. Note that the railroad crossing used to be on a concrete pedestal in the middle of the street. Behind her, you can see the lovely nineteenth-century cottage at 108 South Audubon Road. 

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Railway is now a bike and walking path. 

108 South Audubon Road in 2016
The historic image is courtesy of the Jones Family Collection.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

South Kitley Avenue Then and Now

In 1941, Donna Garland and Barbara Jones walked around Irvington and posed for photographs in various locations. Sometime in the early spring of 1941, the pair sauntered over to the far eastern edge of the neighborhood and took this photograph on the southwest corner of East Washington Street and South Kitley Avenue. Donna Garland stood on the vacant lot next to the for sale sign put up by the developer. Behind her, you can see 43 and 83 South Kitley Avenue.

The Phelps family dwelled at 43 South Kitley Avenue for decades and might have been in the house on the day of this photo. Raymond Phelps owned and operated the Phelps Coal Company at 5543 Bonna Avenue. His ad in the city directory claimed that he sold "coal, coke, concrete blocks, cement, lime, sand, and gravel."  In 1949, the company touted in another ad, "Phone Phelps for Fuel."  Violet Phelps stayed home and raised the couple's three children.

Next door at 83 South Kitley Avenue resided the Fultz Family.  William Fultz was a carpenter and built houses. Perhaps it was he who remodeled the simple farmhouse. Martha Fultz, his wife, worked for a press clipping service.  Her mother, Katherine Mollenkamp, also lived with the couple. A 1933 Indianapolis Star article reveals that Mr. Fultz was arrested for drinking and driving after an automobile crash on the near east side.

Eventually, the site upon where Donna Garland stood was developed.  In 2016, the corner is occupied by a hauling company.  Both homes in the historic image are still standing.

Donna Garland posed for this photo at the southwest corner of East Washington Street and South Kitley Avenue in 1941.

6525 East Washington Street in 2016

The Phelps family dwelled at 43 South Kitley Avenue for decades. Raymond Phelps ran the Phelps Coal Company on Bonna Avenue.  (Photo 2016)

The Fultz family dwelled at 83 South Kitley Avenue in the 1930s and 40s.  (Photo in 2016)
The historic image is courtesy of the Jones Family Collection.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Best Friends Posed Near School #57

Barbara Jones and Donna Garland posed for this candid portrait most likely in 1941 or 42 on the lawn of IPS #57. Other photographs from the Jones family collection reveal that the girls had been friends for several years. Miss Jones grew up at 273 South Ritter Avenue and it is not known at this time where Miss Garland dwelled.


Barbara Jones (left) and Donna Garland (right) posed on the grounds of IPS #57 c1941.
The historic photograph is courtesy of the Jones Family Collection.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Commercial Building Then and Now

William Irwin Coons and his wife Clara Carvin Coons opened a drug store at 201 South Audubon Road in the late nineteenth century. The building has hosted many businesses over the years including a rather lengthy tenure as the Vollrath Grocery in the mid-twentieth century.  In 1897, Coons' Drug Store was featured in a special edition of the Indiana Woman on Irvington. If you look closely, you can see people standing in front of the store. Who were these folks and what became of them? The building has been drastically altered over the years, but perhaps the facade could be restored at a later date. The building to the south of the structure was torn down sometime in the mid-twentieth century.

Coons' Drug Store at 201 South Audubon Road in 1897

201 South Audubon Road on March 14, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Who Lived Here? A Young Attorney and His Family


On March 8, 1915, thirty-three-year-old Earl J. Askren, an attorney, purchased lot number seventeen from Theodore Layman in the Chamber's Addition of Irvington with the plan to build a bungalow upon it. By 1916, Mr. Askren and his wife and two sons resided in their stylish new home at 5630 East Michigan Street.

Earl Askren had been the pride of Elwood, Indiana. He graduated from high school and had earned a reputation as a talented student. He then went on to graduate from the Indiana School of Law near the top of his class. In 1908, he moved to Indianapolis to start his law career, but it was nearly over before it started. On January 7, 1910, the young attorney traveled to Kokomo, Indiana to meet with Oscar Welty over business. The meeting did not go well and the two got into a physical altercation. Mrs. Welty tried to intervene and was punched in the face. Mr. Welty claimed that Earl Askren stabbed him in the forehead although a jury acquitted Mr. Askren as Mr. Welty had an unscrupulous reputation.

Ethel Hillis Askren, the wife of Earl was thirty-two-years-old when the couple built their home along Michigan Street. She immersed herself in club work and presented several papers. For instance, on May 27, 1919, she invited the Irvington Reading Club to her home for a picnic. She also stayed home to raise the couple's two sons, Robert and William.  Sometime during that year, sixty-two-year-old Esther Askren, the mother of Earl, moved in with the family and passed away in the house on October 30, 1919. A few days later, the Askrens held a small service for her at their Michigan Street dwelling.

Mr. Askren's success as an attorney allowed the family to think about moving to a larger residence. In 1925, he applied for a building permit to construct a garage on the property. The family stayed one more year and eventually moved to the north side of Indianapolis in 1927.

Sadly, Mr. Askren would outlive all of his immediate family members. His son, John William, was killed in a battle during World War II in Papau New Guinea in 1944 and his other son Robert died in helicopter crash in 1960. His beloved wife, Ethel passed away in 1959. Mr. Askren passed away in 1961 at the age of 80.


Photo appeared in Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis (1926)
5630 East Michigan Street in 2016
Information for this story came from the following sources:  Elwood Daily Record, January 7, 1910, 1; Elwood Daily Record, February 12, 1910, 1; Indianapolis Star, June 27, 1948; Anderson Herald, August 2, 1960, 3; Anderson Herald, November 12, 1961, 2.