Indiana House Bill 1001

Indiana House Bill 1001 (the state budget bill) includes a proposed 24% cut in funding to the Indiana State Library, including elimination of the Genealogy Department at the State Library and a 10% reduction in Indiana State Library staff. Today VCHS President Chris Cooke, with the backing of the VCHS board of directors, responds to these cuts. Click here (pdf) for a copy of the letter being sent to area legislators. Please feel free to share this letter and contact your legislator with any comments or concerns.

Lambert Johnson mansion

We came across the Lambert Johnson home in a Find-It-Friday listing new residences around 1930. After identifying Lambert Johnson’s house as 2300 Lincoln Ave, this house has only intrigued us more.

Lambert D Johnson residence, Outer Lincoln, completed last year (1929)

Lambert D Johnson residence, Outer Lincoln, completed last year (1929)

Lambert D Johnson Sr was the son of E Mead Johnson, who founded Mead Johnson and located the company here in the 1910s. In 1928 Lambert bought the old Bernardin residence and land which was next to his father’s house. Johnson relocated the home nearby to Boeke Ave and soon built a large English Tudor mansion. The house designed by Chester Walcot (Chicago) was paneled throughout much of the interior and donned imported fixtures. It was built by J Bippus and Sons for a price tag of $200,000 and was completed in 1929.

New home for Lambert Johnson 2-17-1929

New home for Lambert Johnson 2-17-1929

The Johnsons lived here for several years, and though it was surely a social hub for Evansville’s elite the home largely remains a mystery.  The only interior picture we found was when the daughter got married in 1941.

Mr and Mrs Gaylord Browne at the Lambert Johson residence 1-5-1941

Mr and Mrs Gaylord Browne (daughter and son-in-law) at the Lambert Johnson residence Jan 5, 1941

After Lambert’s parents passed away, the Johnsons moved into his father’s home in late 1940s to downsize (that home isn’t exactly small, so you can imagine the enormity of the Lambert residence). The mansion was deemed too big to maintain and sat vacant and for sale.  With no prospective buyers, it was razed in January 1955, and the area was turned into Johnson Place subdivision 1956 not long after Lambert’s death. One can only imagine the amount of craftsmanship and history that was demolished into a pile of rubble.

To be razed - Johnson "mansion" (Jan 10, 1955)

To be razed – Johnson “mansion” (Jan 10, 1955)

New residences in Johnson Place were limited to a smaller size so that the houses built wouldn’t fall into the same trap as Lambert’s did. Here is a view now of where the mansion once stood; the fenced community hiding a strange past.

Lincoln Ave near Boeke about where 2300 Lincoln once stood (Google Maps)

Lincoln Ave near Boeke about where 2300 Lincoln once stood (Google Maps)

2014 Year In Review


Melzer Soap

Melzer Soap Works

Destroyed by fire Oct 2014 will likely be razed

Fulton Ave, 401 N - front (2010 Jul 13)

Steierer Saloon / Service Glass

Razed after a new metal warehouse replaced old brick store

Columbia St, 321 E (2011 Dec 30)

Geier Saloon / Lanhuck’s Bar

Demolished after a car hit the structure in March damaging the building

 Faultless Caster - office (2011 Dec 08) 2

Faultless Caster office

Razed June after busted water pipes flooded building

Fulton Boys

107 N Fulton and 101 N Fulton

Left structure partially demolished and right completely gone marks two historic Mesker buildings lost


Bullocks Tavern

Razed along with other buildings near Deaconess back in August likely for a parking lot


Other notable losses

Kessler house – 305 E Columbia
Old Mater Dei offices and homes along Harmony Way
Homes near St Joe and Delaware razed for CVS



Greyhound Bus Station

Restoration well underway and blue panels are showing the old station’s beauty


Willard Library addtion

Victory garden in the rear of the lot is a tasteful addition to the historically-minded library


Sterling Brewery reuse

TBD but likely reuse for offices is an encouraging sign for an area in need of revitalization


Owen Block - detail (2010 Jan 18)

Owen Block

Fate is hanging by a thread for the old townhouses at Second and Chestnut

Century Club: Washington Ave Presbyterian


Architect sketch of the proposed church

Architect sketch of the proposed church

The idea of Washington Ave Presbyterian was conceived in late 2012 when the Presbyterian church wish to expand eastward.  The new church was planned to serve the growing suburbs buoyed by the streetcar.  The cornerstone was laid June 29, 1913, and construction progressed rapidly on what was dubbed “one of the finest churches in the city.”


Construction of Washington Ave Presbyterian June 1913

The church was dedicated May 17, 1914 making it the 7th Presbyterian church in Evansville.  The interior boasted a green color scheme with ivory colored ceiling set off with pink and brown decorations.  Its seating capacity was around 400.

Washington Avenue Presbyterian shortly after it was completed

Washington Avenue Presbyterian shortly after it was completed

An addition was built in 1954 to the right (west).  Some of the adjoining houses including the old parish house were cleared for parking.

1950s addition

1950s addition

Washington Ave Presbyterian merged with Eastminster Presbyterian on August 19, 1999. The old church was converted into the Washington Avenue Center, an outreach mission where more than a dozen ministries took place.

Not long after, the church became God’s Way Church which still operates here today.  It should be noted that during renovations the church was required to replace some of the beautiful stain glass windows on the front with clear glass per fire code.

Grand entrance

Grand entrance to the church

God's Way Church today

God’s Way Church today (note the center front window with the stain glass removed)

Aster Nut Products Co


Aster Nut Products Co on the alley behind Main St

The building was originally built for the Evansville Tea & Coffee company in 1924.  A storefront was built at 1004 Main St at the corner of William St (now Sycamore St) and a factory was built behind it across the alley (the building in the picture above).


Storefront at 1004 Main St

Around 1946 the Aster Nut Products Co moved in. It was the only manufacturer of peanut butter within 150 miles.  They also boasted that no stock was kept on hand and that all orders were made fresh.


Girls working in the factory 1946

cashew butter

Aster’s unique cashew butter — I wish I could still get this

Store front

Store front prepped for the holidays December 1946

During a natural gas shortage in 1977, Aster Nut Co had the unfortunate honor of being the first company to have its gas service cut off.  The company had used their allotment for the winter and had to operate in the cold.

Aster Nut Products closed sometime around 1978 not long after the FDA seized contaminated food from the company.  The building later became the Jewett Davidson Co in the 1980s

Main St, 1004 - side (2012)

“Jewett Davidson Company” on the side with the paint fading

Side of building 1004 Main

Side of building 1004 Main

Miller’s Club House

millers club house

Miller’s Club House

The Crockford Club House first opened June 7, 1891 with John Miller & Samuel Weil proprietors. The two, who operated a saloon in the city, invested over $12,000 into the pleasure park located at the end of the Washington Ave line. Patrons could take a short streetcar ride to get rest and relaxation from the city. The Crockford had a large clubhouse with a tower, shown above. Large grounds around the clubhouse offered croquet and lawn tennis, a bowling alley, and summer houses. The club reopened in 1892 with only Miller listed as the owner, and the name Miller’s Club House first appears.

sketch of new clubhouse

Sketch of Miller & Weil’s new clubhouse (Evansville Journal May 24, 1891)

Despite advertisements touting an upscale reputation, the clubhouse became a noted gambling club. It was located across from the old Tri-State Fairgrounds, and on the 2nd floor there was a large room for guests to watch the races.

1910 sanborn

1910 Sanborn view of the club house.  The house at left is one of the residences in the 1100 block of Washington Ave

The pleasure park was largely a failure. It reopened several times but ultimately closed in 1907 when it could not get a new liquor license.

F Grote Manufacturing bought the land in 1912 and planned to build a new plant along the Ohio Valley Railroad (US 41 now traverses where the RR tracks once crossed Washington). Even though detailed plans were published in the paper, it is not clear if the plant was ever built. The company was never listed at the new location in the city directories or articles, and 1920’s bungalows soon replaced the old Miller’s club house.

Within the past ten years, the houses that replaced the clubhouse were also torn down. A combination McDonald’s/gas station now occupies the half block.

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Britten’s War Requiem

The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus is gearing up to present a beautiful, historic performance titled Britten’s War Requiem: A Tribute To Our Veterans. The performance will take place November 15th at 7:00 p.m. in observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem was first performed on May 30, 1962, and was commissioned to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in England, which was built after the original fourteenth-century structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid.


More than fifty years after its premiere, Britten’s War Requiem remains one of the most lyrical, haunting, and poignant choral works performed today. The Orchestra is joined by organ, soloists, chorus, chamber orchestra and boys’ choir to portray Benjamin Britten’s musical imagery of war and peace. The composer created this masterpiece by weaving together texts from the Latin Mass with shocking depictions of battle by Wilfred Owen, a British poet who died in World War I.

Leading up to the November 15th performance, the community will host a series of free symposiums about the history and background of War Requiem. The times and locations of these discussions are as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 29, at 7 p.m. The first symposium will be held in Kleymeyer Hall (Liberal Arts 0101) at the University of Southern Indiana. This symposium will be led by Dr. James MacLeod, Professor of History at the University of Evansville; Dr. John Jordan, Professor of Music History and Literature at the University of Evansville; and Maestro Alfred Savia, Music Director for the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. The symposium’s focus will be on remembering World War I and World War II.
  • Wednesday, November 5, at 7 p.m. Held in SB 170 at the University of Evansville, the second of the symposiums will be led by Dr. James MacLeod, Dr. John Jordan, and Maestro Alfred Savia, and its focus will be the life and work of Benjamin Britten.
  • Wednesday, November 12, at 12 p.m. The final symposium will be held at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana (318 Main Street). This symposium will be led by Dr. James MacLeod and Maestro Alfred Savia, and its focus will be the War Requiem and its performance. This symposium will be free and presented as a Brown Bag Luncheon (bring your own lunch).

Tickets are still available for the performance on November 15th at 7:00 p.m. It will feature Janice Chandler Eteme as soprano, Matt O’Neill as tenor, and Jon Truitt as baritone. The Evansville Philharmonic Chorus will be led by Director Andrea Drury, and the Children’s Chorus (auditioned from area schools) will be led by Director Ben Boyer.


If you look closely at the corner of Franklin and Mary beneath the sign of Central UMC, you’ll find an interesting bit of history.

Cornerstone of the old Central ME Church still on display

Cornerstone of the old Central ME Church still on display

This was the original cornerstone of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church which was built in the early 1900s. The Ingle Street Methodist Episcopal church relocated from downtown just a few blocks away to here–the old North Side.  The new church designed by famed architects Harris & Shopbell was completed in 1905.

Old Central Methodist 1907

Old Central Methodist 1907

The church quickly outgrew its new quarters and within 20 years a new edifice was needed. The old church was torn down and the present structure was built in 1924.  The old cornerstone was put on display under the sign where it can still be seen today.

Central Methodist today

Central Methodist today

Central ME on HistoricEvansville –

Quick History – Bayard Building

The Bayard Building on Upper 1st St

The Bayard Building on Northwest First St

This was the Bayard Building on Upper 1st St, just off Main.  The two-story brick structure was built in 1903 for prominent Evansville banker Samuel Bayard.  It was designed by local architect F. J. Schlotter and located just behind where Merchants National Bank stood.

When Mr. Bayard died in 1918, the building was sold off to settle his estate.  The building also served as the headquarters for the Republican party over the years.

The ornate structure was torn down around 1970 during urban renewal.  It is now part of the parking lot for the Hillard Lyons office on Main St

Fulton Ave fading – part 2

Today we continue with our story on Fulton Avenue’s slow demise.  With demolitions abound, we look at the old two-story brick building at 101-3 N Fulton Ave that was razed last week.

Mesker storefront

How could you not love a building like this with its Mesker storefront

The building at the corner of Fulton and Indiana dates back to 1886 shortly after the Old Brewery was razed.  Fulton Avenue was being built up as a shopping corridor and Mrs F Morris relocated her dry goods and groceries store to this new building.  The building was a Mesker Building which sported a decorative metal facade made by Evansville’s own Geo L Mesker & Co.

Fulton Ave 1888

Fulton Ave with the two new kids on the block 1888

The corner store (101 N) was a saloon for several years, and the other half (103 N) was a saddlery, restaurant, and even a barber shop.  There was another store between the two brick ones (105 N) that was a ramshackle building, but it was cleared some time ago.  It was one-story and only about 10 foot deep and served over the years as a shoe shop, a clothes cleaner, and later still as a residence.

The corner store (101 N) was also the original location of the Lamasco Bank when it was founded in 1914.  It stayed here until the new bank at the corner of Fulton and Franklin was completed in 1920

One more interesting tidbit is about Bass Goodman’s restaurant at 103 N Fulton.  In 1925, Goodman and his son-in-law Melvin Geddes were fined $100 and jailed up to 30 days for bootlegging.  When two men were arrested for public intoxication and asked where they got drunk, they implicated Goodman’s “soft drink stand”.  Police arrived soon after and found Geddes destroying “a large quantity of home brew.”

In the 1920s and 30s, the building housed a variety of concerns including the White Front Cash & Carry Grocery, Gus Watson’s cafe, a boarding house, Petroleum Equipment Co, and the Peerless Tent & Awning Co

Petroleum Equipment Co

Store entrance when it was the Petroleum Equipment Co late 1930s

Around 1947, the growing Indiana Shoe Supply Co relocated its wholesale business to this building, occupying both halves.  The company which specialized in “leather and shoe findings” remained in operation until the 1970s.

Soon after, the building became the home of Dennis Minton Auction Service.

Aerial view c1970

Aerial view around 1970 showing the two brothers just beyond the Sterling Brewery complex (upper right)

In its final days, the building was an antique store and pawn shop.  When TLC Coins relocated to West Franklin St this summer, the end was near for this veteran.  After standing for more than 125 years, the building was razed late September 2014.

101-3 N Fulton

101-3 N Fulton

An older style Mesker plaque on the corner

An older style Mesker plaque on the corner of the building

Mesker plaque on 101-3 N Fulton

Mesker plaque on 101-3 N Fulton

Large door entrances with transoms were usually dropped down, or bricked over

Entrances with large doors and transoms were usually dropped down or bricked over

A small shop used to lie between these two

A small shop used to lie between these two

Side view

Side view of 101-3 N Fulton

"Gone Baby"

“Gone Baby”

Indiana St from Fulton, inexorably changed

Indiana St from Fulton, inexorably changed