Sunday, January 15, 2017

Builder Theodore Benson Brydon dwelled on South Bolton Avenue

Theodore and Mary Brydon moved into their newly-built bungalow at 124 South Bolton Avenue in 1915.  Mr. Brydon constructed many homes and apartment buildings in the city so it is possible that he also erected this house. Located just north of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Brydon children, Julia, Howard, Marie, and Louise, would have likely become accustomed to the noise and rumbles of the nearby trains. For a few years, Mrs. Brydon's Mother, Elizabeth Schwappacher, and her Uncle John Schwappacher resided with the family in the 1920s. 

Mr. Brydon's largest building projects in Irvington included the Washington-Audubon Apartments at 5730 East Washington Street (1925); the Arlington Court Apartments at 5901 East Washington Street (1926); and the Butler Apartments at 5230 East Washington Street (1927). At the Arlington Court Apartments, Mr. Brydon created a courtyard to protect century old trees from a previous estate. 

While his business career roared during the 1920s, the Brydons suffered from a series of tragedies for which Mr, Brydon never recovered. On May 15, 1924, while driving on North Illinois and Ohio Streets, Mr. Brydon failed to see Edith Kellum, a thirty-five-year-old woman from Connersville, Indiana as she walked out in front of him after crossing between two parked cars. He blew his horn to alert her, but Miss Kellum was going deaf and did not hear him. Sadly, she died shortly after being struck and Mr. Brydon was arrested for vehicular manslaughter, a seemingly automatic charge in those days. He did not go to jail. 

A little over a year later on September 25, 1925, the Brydons received a call from an official in Jefferson County, Indiana telling them that their only son, Howard, had been killed in an automobile accident near Hanover College. Two other students also lost their lives that day. Howard had just graduated from the college the previous year and was on campus to give another Irvingtonian, Mary McDonald of 45 North Irvington Avenue, a ride back to Indianapolis. Two other Hanover coeds asked Howard if they could be transported to Madison before the couple headed back to Indianapolis and he agreed. Apparently, Howard lost control of the car when the breaks failed as he drove down a hill near campus. The group plunged into a ravine killing three of the four riders. 

The news hit the Brydons like a bomb. Mr. Brydon was at the apex of his building career and he had recently named his company Brydon and Son as Howard had agreed to join the family business. Mr. Brydon became ill after Howard's death and when the elder Brydon died around Christmas in 1930, the Indianapolis Star attributed Theodore's passing at age 55 to a broken heart over the death of Howard. Mr. Brydon's death certificate lists the cause as a cerebral hemorrhage.  

Mrs. Brydon and her young daughter, Louise, continued to dwell in the bungalow on South Bolton Avenue. Mrs. Brydon eventually moved into the Julian House at 115 South Audubon Road as it was a nursing home by 1945. She died in that house after falling and breaking her hip.

Dozens of residences and at least three apartment buildings still stand in Indianapolis as part of the legacy of Theodore Brydon. 

Theodore Brydon submitted this photo to Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis in 1926

Tall catalpa trees, perhaps planted by the Brydon family,  still tower over their family home at 124 South Bolton Avenue in 2017.

Theodore Brydon built the Washington-Audubon Apartments at 5730 East Washington Street in 1925 (Indianapolis Star)

Theodore Brydon's most beautiful apartments were the Arlington Court Apartments at 5901 East Washington Street built in 1926. He preserved the large trees on the site from a previous estate. (Indianapolis Star)

In 1927, Theodore Brydon constructed the Butler Apartments at 5230 East Washington Street. 
Sources:  "Theodore B. Brydon Contractor, Dies," Indianapolis Star, December 26, 1930, 10; "Inquiries Started in Auto Fatality," Indianapolis Star, May 15, 1924, 24; "Six Dead, Auto Toll in State; One Motor Car Leaps Bridge; Another Plunges From Cliff," Indianapolis Star, September 25, 1924, 1; "Preserves Old Surroundings," October 31, 1926, 38.


  1. I found your blog while searching for an old photo of the apartments at 5730 E. Washington. My grandmother lived in a first floor apartment there when I was a child. She was an 'East-sider' all her life. I look forward to reading your other posts and recognizing other names and addresses.

  2. Hi Barb, thanks for your comments! If you have photos then I would love to feature your family on my blog!! You can reach me at

  3. Hi Bill, I am the current owner of The house! Thanks for the History lesson! We moved here in November 2016. Feel free to connect on Facebook. Nicholas Cannon


  4. Thank you for sharing such great information.
    It is informative, can you help me in finding out more detail on
    Builder Floor Apartment.