Mr. Jenney held many jobs over the years as he was a salesman and an entrepreneur. His family moved to Irvington when he was young and he made headlines in 1895 when he and another Irvington child found some of the charred remains of Howard Pitezel, a victim of the serial killer H.H. Holmes. As a young man, he worked for his uncle Charles E. Jenney, who owned the Jenney Electric Company. Walter Jenney later struck out on his own as an advertising agent for the New York Store and for the Indianapolis Star and News. After buying land from Mr. Brown in the Ellenberger Park Addition, Mr. Jenney opened a nursery where he sold peonies, lilacs, roses, and other beautiful specimens. The Irvington North Garden Historic District received its National Register name because of Mr. Jenney's beautiful nursery located near St. Clair Street and Lesley Avenue.
The land that the Jenney's purchased contained an older farmhouse, some outbuildings, and a windmill. Little is known about the original farmers who used to live in the house, but the historic residence still stands at 5665 East St. Clair Street. Mr. Jenney operated his nursery out of the house. Alice Jenney was involved in various Irvington clubs and taught Sunday School at the Irvington Methodist for 50 years. Amazingly, she would live to be 101 years old. She outlived her husband by 33 years. Her brother, Arthur J. Randall, and sister-in-law, Anna Hayes Randall, purchased land and built a home at 5660 East St. Clair Street. The siblings lived across the street from each other for decades.
|Walter Jenney snapped this beautiful photo in 1912 on the site of his future home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway. (Photo courtesy of Todd Cloud and Ann Schmidt Brown)|
|The old farmhouse at 5665 East St. Clair Street in 2018.|
|Walter Jenney operated a nursery out of the farmhouse at 5665 East St. Clair Street (Indianapolis Star, October 1, 1920)|
It took some time, but eventually the Jenneys began construction of their dream home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway (also known as 5700) in the summer of 1922. They chose to site the home on a bluff facing southward towards Irvington. Mr. Jenney designed the home while O. E. Pike served as the general contractor. An Indianapolis Star article profiled the new home on November 12, 1922. To get to the property, one entered from Pleasant Run Parkway, crossed over a stone bridge, and then up a steep and winding drive. Once at the top of the hill, a lovely "colonial" stuccoed home awaited visitors. Mr. Jenney designed a long living room across the entire front of the home complete with a mahogany fireplace and beautiful oak floors. Mr. Pike installed an heirloom buffet into the dining room. The Jenneys could sit in a beautiful side porch and gaze across the tree tops that grew along the stream below. The stunning location must have been a beautiful place to live in all seasons. For many years, the old windmill still stood near the dining room window.
Numerous other families have called this beautiful place "home." Their stories should be told as well. I am particularly grateful to Ann Schmidt Brown, whose family lived here for much of the mid and late twentieth century. Todd Cloud and Chris and Felicia Sears have also been instrumental in providing information for this post. I wish to thank them all. At some point, Mr. Jenney gave a scrapbook full of photos to the Schmidt family. I was able to publish these photos due to the generosity of the Schmidts. More photos will be forthcoming so stay tuned!
|Alice Randall Jenney sat on the front porch of her new home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway (later 5701 East St. Clair Street) in 1922. (photo courtesy of Todd Cloud and Ann Schmidt Brown)|
|Walter Jenney snapped this photograph in 1922 as he faced westward. (photo courtesy of Todd Cloud and Ann Schmidt Brown)|
|Mr. Jenney's peonies bloomed in the spring of 1923. Behind the garden, you can see the Jenney home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway. (photo courtesy of Todd Cloud and Ann Schmidt Brown)|
|The Jenney home and property at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway shortly after it was built in the winter of 1922 (photo courtesy of Todd Cloud and Ann Schmidt Brown)|
|5701 East St. Clair Street (formerly 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway) in 2018|
|Indianapolis Star, September 14, 1944, 5|
Editor's note: During the Schmidt-era of the home, the city changed the address of the house from 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway to 5701 East St. Clair Street.
Sources: About the house--"Stucco Attractive Finish for Homes," Indianapolis Star, November 12, 1922, 61; Obituary for Walter E. Jenney, Indianapolis Star, September 14, 1944, 5; Obituary for Alice Randall Jenney, Indianapolis News, February 5, 1977, 13; About Howard Pitezel--"This Reminds Me," Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1951, 31; Arthur Brown donation--"Gives City Six Acres," Indianapolis News, July 28, 1911, 16. Interview with Ann Schmidt Brown, December 2, 2018; Interview with Chris and Felicia Sears, December 8, 2018.