Evansville’s Cathedral: Assumption Catholic Church

Assumption (1944)

Originally published 4/29/2010

Assumption Catholic Church was the first Catholic parish in Evansville, but its fate was unbefitting of such a glorious building.  Originally founded in 1836, the original church used to be located at 2nd and Sycamore Sts, but its success and growth warranted a grander building.  In April 1871 a lot was purchased at Seventh St and Vine St, just catercorner from Old Central school.  Work on the beautiful new Assumption church began July 7, 1872, when the cornerstone was laid and completed later that year at a cost of $75,000.

school was erected in 1881 next to the church on 7th St.  Continued growth demanded a larger school which was built in 1928 replacing the old one.  The church prospered for years and when the Catholic church created the Diocese of Evansville in 1944, Assumption became the cathedral, or head church, for the area.

When Evansville planned to built a new Civic Center, Assumption found itself located within the proposed area.  To boot, the downtown area had been experiencing mass exodus as residents flocked to the suburbs.  With Holy Trinity and St Mary’s nearby, the downtown area could not support three Catholic churches.  These factors combined made the decision to close the parish easier than it should have been.  The church had to get approval from the Vatican to shut its doors, and the last mass was held January 17, 1965.

After showering the downtown area with its beauty for nearly a century, the church was razed in May 1965. The Winfield K Denton federal building, which houses the downtown post office, is now located on this site.  Anyone who remembers this beautiful church can attest that it was one of the saddest losses in Evansville’s history.

  • Assumption church as seen from the 1888 Bird's Eye View map
  • An early photo of the church before the tower was redone (circa 1904)
  • An old postcard of Assumption Catholic Church
  • The old Assumption School in the early 1900s
  • An austere building, Assumption Catholic Church was one of the gems of downtown
  • The old school was replaced with this new, larger one in 1928
  • Death row: The church and school (right) await demolition for the new Civic Center. The Cook Brewery was also facing the axe.
  • Assumption Church is demolished in 1965 to make way for the new Civic Center
  • The death blow was delivered as the wrecking ball toppled the tower. The Old Central tower watches in the background, though it found a similar fate a few years later.

Assumption Catholic Church at Historic Evansville.com

Then and Now: Stockfleth residence (273 Washington Ave)

Originally written 12/21/2009

Residence of Henry Stockfleth ca. 1904

Residence of Henry Stockfleth ca. 1904

Same house in disrepair in 2007

Same house in disrepair in 2007

Here is one of the grand old homes on Washington Ave then and now.  This is the residence of Henry Stockfleth, a real estate agent, built around the turn of the century.  Built by the architect firm of Harris & Shopbell, this photo appeared in a booklet showcasing their designs.

Fast forward 100 years

The house is still there but in poor condition.  There have been rumors of the turret being sliced off with a chainsaw.  Recently the porch has been completely removed and the prospect for saving this house is undetermined.

UPDATE:  This house was razed in April 2010

273 Washington Ave on HistoricEvansville.com
http://www.historicevansville.com/ site.php?id=washington273

Carpenter Family

Today in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln spent the evening in his study discussing the works of William Shakespeare with painter Francis Carpenter. The engraving shown here, courtesy of The Library of Congress, was originally painted by Carpenter and depicts the Lincoln family in The White House in 1861.

Carpenter was a descendant of the Rehoboth Carpenter family. This family included Willard Carpenter, the enterprising pioneer, citizen, and benefactor of Evansville who lived from 1803 to 1883. The Willard Carpenter House named in his honor is now home to WNIN. But he is perhaps best known for Willard Library, which he built and endowed. An agent for the Underground Railroad before the Civil War, Mr. Carpenter incorporated his concern for the rights of African Americans into his requirement that the library “be maintained for the free use of all persons who may desire to consult it.” This definition of a “public” library was a daring social experiment in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Bauer Building

The building at 621 Main St was built in 1897 for Rouscher & Miller, dealers in choice and fancy groceries produce feed. Located at the southeast corner of Main and Delaware, it was also a corner saloon. But what makes the building unique is that it is an old Mesker storefront.  Evansville’s own Geo L. Mesker & Co. produced steel facades that could readily be applied to commercial buildings to add great ornamentation and detail cheaply.

Bauer Building at 621 and 619 N Main St

Bauer Building at 621 and 619 N Main St

The building was originally addressed 1823 Main St and built to serve the growing North Main St.  It soon became Marby’s grocery and later H Langhorst grocer.  At some point Bauer took over the building and “M Bauer” was added to the parapet atop the building.

Mesker plaque on Bauer Building

Mesker plaque on the Bauer Building


Front facade of the Bauer Building

The building at 619 N Main St (to the right, south) was built sometime around 1930.   Through the years the buildings were a variety of concerns such as the North Side Shoe Shop, the Banner Food Market and the Koressel Market.  Below is a view of the North Main area in 1947.

N Main St 1947 with the Bauer building in blue

N Main St 1947 with the Bauer building in blue

From the 1970s until the mid 1980s, Turoni’s Pizzeria was situated there. It later moved across the street into its present location.

Turonis in the old Bauer building before moving across the street

Turoni’s in the old Bauer building before moving across the street

For several years it was the Evansville Police Department’s North office. When the branch moved in the old Christa McAuliffe alternative school at Columbia and Governor, the old building sat vacant. Recently it has found new life as the home of Jacobsville Join In, a neighborhood organization serving the North Main area.  See http://jacobsvillejoinin.com for more information

Looking at the southeast corner of Main and Delaware

Bauer Building looking at the corner of Main and Delaware

Welcome to the new VCHS Website

We are proud to unveil the new website of the Vanderbugh County Historical Society.  We have been working hard to develop a new look for a our group looking back at history while looking forward and utilizing technology to bring you content that you want.

When King Winter spreads his regal robes

The cold weather has given us lots of time indoors to design a new site

Our goal is to keep members informed of activities and events and to bring you stories of the past.  Here you will find all kinds of articles and images of Vanderbugh history.

Please send us your feedback to let us know what you think and don’t hesitate to contact us with ideas on how to serve you better.



Old Central – Evansville’s first high school

Originally posted 12/14/2009
Evansville residents may wonder why Central High School is not very centralized within the city.  Geographically it lies more north than North High School.  For those old enough to remember Central used to be downtown when that area was still very residential.  Old Central was the oldest free public high school in continuous operation west of the Allegheny Mountains.  It was a massive brick complex spanning the entire block of 6th St, Vine St, ML King Jr Blvd (formerly 7th St), and Court St (formerly Division St).  It was torn down in 1973 and is now the YMCA parking lot.

Aerial view of Old Central 1970

Aerial view of Old Central campus

After holding high school classes in various locations, the city finally got a dedicated building in 1868 when Old Central was built.  It was simply called Evansville High School since no other secondary schools were in town.  Once Reitz High School was built in 1918, the name Central which typified its location downtown came about.

Evansville High School around 1890.  The original section had a new tower added and wings to each side.

Evansville High School around 1890

At first, the school was a small building compared to its final state.  It was a two story school house fronting 7th St.

Postcard of Old Central as it looked around the turn of the century

Postcard of Old Central as it looked around the turn of the century

In 1896 a clock tower and two wings were added.  This massive tower that dominated the Evansville skyline is what most people associate with Old Central.

The new junior high school at 6th and Vine

The new junior high school at 6th and Vine

Additions in the early 1900s saw the school expand to 6th St encompassing the entire block.

Old Central as it looked when the school closed

Old Central as it looked when the school closed

After 100+ years and numerous expansions, Old Central outgrew its location.  The downtown residents and families migrated north with the urban sprawl.  The new Central was built out on First Ave and in 1971 the school left its home downtown for a more spacious site.  The school sat vacant for a couple of years and despite some protests to preserve the tower as a downtown landmark the school was razed in 1973.  The block was slated to be used for a new building for the YMCA, but that never came to pass and Old Central is now nothing more than a parking lot.

Demolition of the Old Central tower

Demolition of the Old Central tower

Old Central gymnasium now part of the YMCA

Old Central gymnasium now part of the YMCA

The only thing that remains of the Old Central complex is the 1927 gym on the corner of Court and 6th.  Built in 1927, it is still used by the YMCA for an indoor track and basketball courts.  If you look at the stone above the door facing 6th St it reads “Gymnasium C.H.S.” for Central High School.

Old Central High School on HistoricEvansville.com

Globe-Bosse-World Furniture

Originally posted 2/10/2011

Globe-Bosse World Furniture headquarters

Globe-Bosse World Furniture headquarters

Aerial view of the Globe Bosse World Furniture with demolished buildings colored in.

Aerial view of the Globe Bosse World Furniture with demolished buildings colored in.


Old postcard of the Globe Bosse World

Old postcard of the Globe Bosse World

World Furniture before the building was covered with siding

World Furniture before the building was covered with siding

The Globe-Bosse-World Furniture Co helped put Evansville on the map. With three large companies combining forces, this super company showed why Evansville, with its abundant hardwood, was arguably the furniture capital of its day.

Globe-Bosse-World (G-B-W) was a result of the merger of the Globe FurnitureBosse Furniture, and World Furniture Cos. With all three companies situated near Ninth and Maryland, it made sense when they joined forces in 1910. Their size alone made them one of the largest furniture operations in the region. The company also had a hand in creating the Furniture Exchange building downtown (now the Court Building) to showcase products–sort of a salesroom for the many furniture companies in town.

The death of Mayor Bosse, the Great Depression, and aging managements contributed to the fall of several furniture companies, but G-B-W was still in operation when an enormous fire destroyed much of the company in 1946. It is still unknown when the exactly the company went out of business, but they were gone by the early 1960s.

The old offices,the World Furniture Co and the newer factory on Ninth Ave are all that remain of the great company. You can still see “World Furntiure” painted in on the old World Furniture building (south side of Maryland St). There is also a nice split down the southeast corner of Ninth and Maryland where the old Belt RR tracks used to pass by the companies, and the World Furniture building has angled walls following the outline of the railroad. The tracks have since been removed and relocated along the edge of Pigeon Creek.

Other links

Holy Trinity Catholic church and fire

Originally posted 12/18/2009

Holy Trinity Catholic Church on NW 3rd St

Holy Trinity Catholic Church on NW 3rd St

Holy Trinity Catholic church, an unimposing little church downtown on 3rd St, has the distinction of being Evansville’s oldest Catholic parish.  Originally the second oldest, it took that title from Assumption Church when it was torn down in 1965 for the Civic Center.  But what most people may remember was the beautiful old church building that burned down in 1950.

With the boom of German immigrants into Evansville, Holy Trinity was the result of the need for a German-speaking parish (Assumption was English-speaking).  The cornerstone was laid in 1849, but a cholera epidemic halted construction.  The church was finally completed in 1851 and Holy Trinity parish was born.

Sketch of Holy Trinity Catholic 1901

Sketch of Holy Trinity Catholic 1901

The church occupied the entire half block of Third St between Court St (originally Division St) and Vine St.   The gorgeous chuch with its tall spire was a downtown landmark.  A huge school building was on the corner of Vine which for a time served as the Catholic high school (before Memorial was built).

Holy Trinity School

Holy Trinity School

sister’s home was located behind the school fronting Vine St.  A new rectory was built in 1912 on the corner of 3rd and Court which is still standing but hidden by the later addition of the education building

Sisters' home at Holy Trinity

Sisters’ home at Holy Trinity
Image courtesy of Donahue Studios

Holy Trinit y Rectory before the porch was eliminated

Holy Trinity Rectory before the porch was eliminated
Image courtesy of Donahue Studios

Sadly, after standing for a century the church was struck by lightning Easter Sunday and burned down April 3, 1950.  The blaze completely gutted the church as seen here in this photo from the Evansville Courier.  Downtown lost one of its most prominent churches, and the city skyline was noticeably missing something.   Mass was temporarily held in the school while the present Holy Trinity church was being built.  When it burned, it was the oldest Catholic church in the city.  While Trinity is still the oldest congregation, St Mary Catholic Church, built 1867, is now the oldest Catholic church building in town.

Holy Trinity Fire – Press article
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Aerial view of Holy Trinity

Aerial view of Holy Trinity as it looks today.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church on HistoricEvansville.com

Old Daniel Wertz School

Originally written 3/19/2010

Howell Public School c1900

Howell Public School c1900

Many people know Howell as the area southwest of town.  It is a tight-knit community that sprung up from all the railroad activity at the Howell Railroad Yard.  The small town just southwest of Evansville experienced a boom.  Barker Ave, originally Front St, became the bustling downtown.  Residents settled and built homes, and churches followed.  Like any populated place the town had a school — Public School of Howell, Indiana or simply Howell Public School.  Built in 1886 it was a simple 2-story structure with a bell tower and was located on the northwest corner of Delmar and Emerson.  Eventually, schools were under the same umbrella of the township so the school was known by Public School District No 7.  As Howell grew, the school did too.  An addition in the rear along Emerson St was added in 1898.

Howell Public School early 1900s

Howell Public School early 1900s after additions

In 1922, the school was renamed to honor the community service of Daniel Wertz.

Wertz, Daniel 2

Daniel Wertz after several additions


The school continued to expand with additions in 1935 and 1958, but with the closing of nearby township schools, the school was maxed and its location limited its growth.  The decision was made to move Daniel Wertz to Red Bank Rd just south of Broadway, where it is now.  In 1986 the school moved and the old building was sold to Howell Baptist Church.  It was used as a storage facility for a short while and was finally razed about 1990.  Sidewalks leading to the old entrances are the only indication of Old Daniel Wertz which served the area for over 100 years.


Emerson St, 3100 block (2009)

The corner of Emerson and Delmar today reveals nothing of the old Daniel Wertz


Interestingly enough, during the 1937 Flood the majority of the Howell area stayed above the flood line.  However, if another flood of that magnitude occurred now, the new school would be under water where it is currently located.

Old Daniel Wertz at Historic Evansville.com

St Boniface Catholic Church towers over the West Side

Boniface Church, School, Parsonage and Sisters' Home

Old postcard that reads “Boniface Church, School, Parsonage and Sisters’ Home, West Side, Evansville, Ind.”

With its massive twin towers, St Boniface towers over the West Side of Evansville.  Having served the community for 130+ years, it stands as a visual landmark for the surrounding area.  The church can even be seen in several pictures from downtown.



St Boniface was originally built in 1881 as the first Catholic Church west of Pigeon Creek–only Assumption (gone), Holy Trinity (rebuilt), and St Mary are older.  Several prominent West Siders facilitated the formation of the parish and helped finance it.  The church was rebuilt after fire Easter weekend 1902, but retains much of the original look.  The towers are a bit wider and shorter and there are dormers on the sides that used to not exist.  A c1900 carriage house is located behind the church.  One other thing of note is the grotto, built underneath the church in 1914. The flood of 1937 filled the grotto with 3 feet of water damaging several statues and caused it to closed, though it reopened in the 1970s as a mini-museum.

The school at the back of the block along 10th Ave was built in 1923.  It actually replaced an older school on the corner where the parking lot now is.  The original school was built in 1885 and can be seen in several old pictures.  For a while it even housed a parochial high school.  After the new school was built it was used for some time but eventually was torn down in 1951.

The sisters’ home along Michigan St was built in 1907.  The nuns who taught at the school used to reside in the old school building, but as space became limited it was determined to give them a separate structure.  It still stands but isn’t used except for storage.

The rectory at the corner of Wabash and Virginia was built in 1892.  It is a fine example of Victorian living and blends in well with houses in the vicinity.

St Boniface at HistoricEvansville.com - http://www.historicevansville.com/site.php?id=stboniface