Many changes greeted the citizens of Irvington in 1902. The community had been independent with its own town board and marshall for thirty-two years, but all of that changed in February when the city of Indianapolis annexed the suburb. The neighborhood would now receive city fire and police protection along with other benefits like sewers and sidewalks. In the summer of 1902, the city announced the extension of Whittier Place from Lowell Avenue to the corporation line. (later Pleasant Run Parkway) Within a few years, several families started building their dream homes along that small section of the street.
334 North Whittier Place Connected to an Indiana Historian
In the winter of 1905, members of the Cottman family obtained a building permit to construct a frame house at 334 North Whittier Place for Julia Cottman, the widowed mother of historian George S. Cottman. City directories indicate that she lived there until1907, but she later moved in with her son's family at 336 North Ritter Avenue. George S. Cottman was a writer and historian. In fact, he founded the Indiana Magazine of History in 1905. He later wrote books, pageants and essays while continuing to serve as the editor for his journal. He married Vida Tibbott, a former teacher whose family had deep roots in Irvington. Mrs. Cottman, who was much younger than her husband, was very involved in local women's clubs. She frequently hosted meetings in her home.
After the elderly Julia Cottman moved in with her son, they rented her Whittier Place home to the Jenney family and then the Cottmans moved to the Seattle, Washington area in September of 1908, likely surprising many of their Hoosier friends. They did not remain gone for long as an Indianapolis News blurb announced that Vida Cottman returned one year later and moved into Julia Cottman's Whittier Place home in September of 1909. Mr. Cottman followed soon thereafter. The 1910 Federal Census indicates that George and Vida resided at the Whittier Place home along with their two-year old son, Evans and with 84-year-old Julia Cottman. Presumably, they didn't return to their Ritter Avenue address immediately because they had also rented that home out in their absence. By 1911, the Cottmans were back at 336 North Ritter Avenue. Their son, Evans, later wrote a short memoir about growing up in Irvington although he does not mention his brief tenure along Whittier Place.
|Members of the Hackleman family, who lived at 5438 Lowell Avenue, lined up with other neighborhood children for a parade c1910 in front of the Cottman home at 334 North Whittier Place. (photo courtesy of Anne Gribble Spurgeon)|
|George S. Cottman authored an early history of the state of Indiana in 1925.|
|The Cottman home as photographed by Google in July of 2019|
I wish to thank Anne Gribble Spurgeon for the use of her incredible Conner/Hackleman photo collection. I also wish to thank Paula Schmidt and Steve Barnett at the Irvington Historical Society.
Sources: Opening of Whittier Place north of Lowell Avenue: Indianapolis Journal, August 19, 1902; Building permit and construction of Cottman home: Indianapolis Commercial, February 1905; Cottman Seattle move: Indianapolis Star, September 27, 1908, 18; Indianapolis News, September 25, 1909, 22;