Ward Residence Typical of Earlier
Homes in Irvington Near Old Butler
(Photo by Star Staff Photographer.)
BY AGNES M'CULLOCH HANNA.
In looking over abstracts of titles
for property in and near Irvington
one comes repeatedly on the names
of Samuel and Minerva Shank,
husband and wife, who owned a large
acreage about 1850. Among their
holdings was the residence at
English and Emerson avenues.
The original owner of a large
tract which included this
corner was Harvey Pope,
who entered the land from the
government in 1821. Mr. and Mrs. Shank
bought it in 1853 and it was platted
by James Downey and Charles
Brouse in 1873.
Emerson avenue originally was
called University avenue, as it
formed the, western boundary of the
campus for Butler college, which
changed its name from the Northwestern
Christian college when it
was moved from its original site on
College avenue to the grounds in
Irvington. The street car company
extended its tracks along English
avenue to University (now Emerson)
and put in a turntable on this corner.
Many Indianapolis men and
women who attended college made
their way by means of the old mule
cars to, this point and walked about
a quarter of a mile from the old
turntable to the Butler campus.
Was Built in 1875.
Some of those young students, it
is said, allowed the good-natured
drivers of the cars to give them
credit for their fares, with the date
of repayment indefinitely postponed.
Houses for Butler professors were
built in this neighborhood and
Downey and Brouse hoped to attract to
their new addition business men
from Indianapolis who would
appreciate the cultural opportunities
offered by the college and the
beauty of the surroundings. This
house at 502 South Emerson was
built in 1875 by John H. Burford of
Indianapolis. It is a fine red brick
with a mansard roof. A tower, on it
originally, has been removed. There
are several other houses of this type
not only in Irvington, but throughout
Indianapolis, and this particular
house is fortunate in having owners
who have made every effort to
beautify the grounds with fine shrubbery
and to protect the house from
depredation, Mr, and Mrs. Stephen J.
Ward bought it some years ago to
save it from vandals who were
Original Woodwork Kept.
This house faces the north and
there have been certain readjustments
of the rooms, but the Wards
have retained the original woodwork,
including the long curved
flight of stairs which is in perfect
condition and without a creak. They
removed elaborate stucco decorations
from the ceilings and replaced the
old front door with one more nearly
colonial. In the houses built today
the recreation room is in the finished
basement, but at the time when
John H. Burford built his home the
mansard roof and the tower provided
space for a large ceiled room usually
called the ballroom.
Around the base of the walls runs
a wooden bench on which dancers,
exhausted by the whirling waltz and
the gay polka might rest. The stairway
which once led to this place of
entertainment and the tower which
surmounted it have been removed,
but they are among the few struct
tural changes which have been
Jeweler for Many Years.
Mr. Ward's father and mother
came from County Mayo, Ireland,
before the civil war and after a little
time in New York they went to Louisville,
Ky. Mr. Ward came to Indianapolis
as a youth and for a time lived
on property now included in Riverside
park and in the Allison estate.
At one time a project was under
consideration for building factories in
that location and a group of Boston
men expected to establish a shoe
factory and other industries financed by
Eastern capitalists. They named the
tract Brooklyn Heights. The plans
were given up because of the panic
Mr. Ward was tor many years in
the jewelry business on North Meridian
street, within a stone's throw
of the Monument site. Many of the
old houses which were standing when
Mr. and Mrs. Ward went to Irvington
to live are just as they were.
The greatest change in this
neighborhood has been the opening up of
wide paved roads, thoroughfares to
the east and south.
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