Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wallace-Bosart Home Predates Irvington

It is impossible not to notice the beautiful brick two-story home at 4704 East Washington Street. Most sources indicate that the large farmhouse was likely built around 1862 for the Wallace family. Little is known at this point about that family other than that they lived in the house until 1881 and that a nearby street is named for them. Ads placed in the Indianapolis News from March until November 1881, listed the house as for sale.

                    Farm of Wm. John Wallace--19 acres, great deal of fruit, outbuildings,
                    and a handsome brick house. Price low, terms easy. (March 31, 1881)

The Wallace-Bosart home in 2017. The two-story brick porch was likely added around 1915.
The Wallace-Bosart home appeared in an Indianapolis Star article on March 5, 1906 (p.3). The house had a one-story wrap around porch at the time and a windmill in the back. 

In early 1882, Timothy and Ruth Bosart along with their five children moved into the lovely estate. The children had plenty of room to play and in the backyard sat a three-story Second Empire structure with a windmill on top of it. Mr. Bosart had earned a comfortable income in the wholesale grocery business and then in the new electric power industry. He actually filed several patents and served as the Vice President and business manager for Jenney Electric Company. Mr. Bosart owned quite a lot of property and helped to develop the area north of his house now known as Bosart-Brown.  The street that bears the family name was also put in sometime in either the late nineteenth-century or early twentieth century. An Indianapolis Star article noted that sidewalks were added along Bosart Avenue north of Washington Street on May 2, 1903.

Two tragedies struck the Bosart family within two years. The first blow came on May 4, 1900, when Mr. Bosart died of a massive heart attack while at work. He was only 55 years old. The second and more horrifying event occurred on June 1, 1902. Mrs. Bosart along with her young son, Russell, and her mother, Lucetta Murray had gone to Crown Hill Cemetery to visit Mr. Bosart's grave. Upon leaving the cemetery, Mrs. Bosart's mother failed to see a streetcar. Lucetta Murray was instantly killed in front of her daughter and grandson.

Timothy Bosart (1844-1900), was a successful businessman. He helped to develop much the area around East Washington Street and Bosart Avenue. His untimely death of a heart attack shocked his family. (Photo courtesy of the Bosart family descendants via Ancestry.com)

Ruth Bosart (1858-1943) did her best to hold the family together after her husband's passing. Some of her adult children lived with her in the large house at 4704 East Washington Street. She died at the age of 84 having been a widow for forty-three years. (Photo courtesy of the Bosart family descendants via Ancestry.com)

Lucetta Murray, the mother of Ruth Bosart, was killed in horrible streetcar accident in 1902 near Crown Hill Cemetery.  (Photo courtesy of the Bosart family descendants via Ancestry.com)

Despite the sadness in her life, Ruth Bosart continued to manage and live in the large home with her children. In March of 1906, a reporter from the Indianapolis Star, profiled the Bosart family and property. He noted the flowing well, the large veranda that wrapped around the house (removed), and the number of fireplaces in the dwelling. At the time, the property was managed by Ruth's son, Oscar Bosart.

Several joyful moments took place on the property including an unusual event, a graduation ceremony. On June 13, 1909, the nearby Emerson School at New York Street and Linwood Avenue held their eighth-grade celebration on the lawn of the property. The students recited poetry by Longfellow including, "The Birds of Killingsworth" and "Tales of a Wayside Inn." They also sang words to Mendelssohn's "Spring Song." The Assistant Superintendent, Nebraska Cropsey, distributed diplomas to the 15 graduates who all held a garland of flowers while the remaining students and families watched.

The windmill on the Bosart property at 4704 East Washington Street as it looked in 1906. An Indianapolis Star article noted that the mansard-roofed structure was also likely used as a smokehouse in the nineteenth century. 

Dora Bosart, the daughter of Timothy and Ruth Bosart, became quite active in the Women's Franchise League, an organization dedicated to getting women the right to vote. The Smith College graduate, campaigned in the years leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment. At some point, she met and fell in love with a British naval war hero, Alfred Evans. The young man was a veteran of the Boer Wars in South Africa and he had fought in World War One. The couple lived at 4704 East Washington Street along with other Bosarts until 1925 when they moved to Long Beach, California.

The Bosart sibling to have the most important role in the home was Oscar Bosart.  Along with his wife, Mabel, and their children, the next generation of Bosarts transformed the residence into the Green Lantern Tourist Home in 1936. A "Talk of the Town" article from the Indianapolis News in 1937 revealed that Oscar and Mabel had the house painted white with green shutters to reflect the Civil War era. The author pointed out that the house had been painted red, gray, and brown in previous years. A 1944 Indianapolis Star ad touted the inn as having "running water in rooms." Weary travelers along the National Road could stop off and stay with the Bosart family.

The matriarch of the family, Ruth Bosart, moved to Long Beach, California to live with her daughter in 1928 and died there in 1943. Oscar and Mabel Bosart continued to dwell in the family home for the next several decades. Their daughter, Jane, was married in the house and the society page of the Indianapolis Star on April 20, 1941, wrote of the beautiful candlelit service. One of their sons, Oscar, Jr., sadly drowned in an accident near New York City in 1936. Their youngest son, Robert, served the country during World War II as a pilot in the North African and Italian campaigns.

Oscar and Mabel Bosart took over the management of the property. The young couple, photographed in 1914, were likely standing in front of an older porch at 4704 East Washington Street. They later turned the home into an inn in 1936. (Photo courtesy of the Bosart family descendants via Ancestry.com)

By 1917, the Bosarts had removed the older porch and added a two-story brick porch. In this photo, Mabel Bosart posed with her children, Jane and Oscar, Jr. (Photo courtesy of the Bosart family via Ancestry.com)

So, the next time you drive or walk by the large house on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Bosart Avenue, you will know that you are viewing one of the oldest homes still standing on the east side of Indianapolis.

Sources:
Timothy Bosart obituary, Indianapolis Journal, May 5, 1908, 8; Lucetta Murray's Death, Indianapolis News, June 1, 1902, 2; Ruth Murray Bosart obituary, Indianapolis Star, May 1, 1943, 3; Profile of Bosart Family, Indianapolis Star, March 5, 1906, 3; Ads for Wallace Sale, Indianapolis News, March 31, 1881, 1; Dora Bosart and the Women's Franchise League, Indianapolis Star, November 3, 1914, 8; Graduation Ceremony, Indianapolis Star, June 13, 1909, 20; Jane Bosart Wedding, Indianapolis Star, April 20, 1941, 47, Talk of the Town, Indianapolis News, October 19, 1937; Date of Wallace-Bosart home--
  • Bodenhamer, D. J., Barrows, R. G., & Vanderstel, D. G. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1262.

15 comments:

  1. Glad to read the history of this interesting house. Who is it’s present owner?

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  2. Thank you for your kind words. It was fun to research. I don't have information on the present owner. Take care! Bill

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  3. My sister and I grew up next door to the Bosart house. I very, very vaguely remember when Mr. Oscar Bosart died. His widow, Mabel Bosart, contined to live in the house. She taught me how to fold sheets.(Many times I helped her take them off the line and fold them.) When I was 4 I met a little girl who came to stay in the rented rooms every summer for a few years with her father who was a salesman. She was 5 the year I met her. She was French-Canadian I think. She taught me how to count to ten in French, how to call someone dear, and how to say hello.

    There was an urn i the front yard that Mrs. Bosart always filled with petunias. Every summer evening she'd deadhead them, and I'd usually see her and join her ther. She'd tell me stores sometimes about when she was a girl. There was also a big rock near the urn. Her children used to jump off it to see who could jump farthest. She showed my sister and I how to do it. Inlived her a lot. When she got older andore feeble my parents did her grocery shopping for her. At that time her daughter Jane was lining in Columbus. Not sire if it was Ohio or Indiana. She'd com visit her , mother, and sometimes would stay for a bit if her Mom was sick or needed help cleaning. Mrs. Bosart died while I was away at college.

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    1. Sorry about the spelling. Texting from my phone.

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  4. Sandra, thank you for these stories. They are wonderful!

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  5. All very interesting. Outstanding photo of the young couple caught in a genuinely ebullient moment which you don't usually see in photos of that era. I like knowing the house was three different colors before it was its iconic white.

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  6. Our Grandson lives on Franklin just off Washington so the next time we go visit we will look for it. Thank you for all the background. I researched this because I have a glass ashtray with bosart written on it with 100 YEARS AND 1882-1982. Is this related to this family???

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  7. Hello...I am not sure if the Bosart family is the same, but it is an intriguing artifact!!

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  10. Here's a postcard for the Green Lantern, at 4704 E. Washington Street. I'm not sure of the date.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/shushmuckle/46970128392/

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  12. I looked at a Marion County map from around 1900 or so and it also showed a small farm in what is now Speedway, Indiana with the name "Timothy Bosart" on the plot. I can't remember the name of the map...saw it in the library main branch downtown. It also showed his land with his name on it at what is now East Washington Street which is the subject of this article.

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  13. Thank you for that information. I will try to find the map the next time I am at the downtown library. Thanks for reaching out.

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