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 – http://historicevansville.com/site.php?id=centralmethodist

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

Fulton Ave fading

Fulton Ave, 109 N (1946)

Brothers in commerce, 107-11 and 101-3 N Fulton, taken in 1946 when Fulton Avenue was bustling

Two old buildings on Fulton Ave near Indiana St are on their way down, and it’s sad news for preservationists.  The two buildings were brothers of sort, erected in the 1880s where the Old Brewery once stood.  Both were large, multi-story brick buildings and donned Mesker storefronts–large metal facades by the Geo L Mesker & Co.  These allowed for quick installation while flaunting highly decorative elements, sort of an instant architecture.

The white building at 107-111 N was built around 1887, and one of the first tenants was F W Mann’s store which specialized in cooking and heating stoves.  Mann, the son-in-law of the famous John H Roelker Stove and Plow Works, later expanded into other household decorations like queensware and home furnishings.  The building also housed the office and warerooms for the Southern Stove Works whose foundry was nearby.


1890s advertisement for F W Mann’s store

Sanborn 1895

Sanborn 1895 showing the new buildings catercorner from the brewery

F W Mann would later occupy the whole building, and his business helped establish Fulton Ave as a shopping district.  Shown below is Fulton Avenue looking north from Pennsylvania St (Lloyd Expressway) around 1900.  The old Fulton Avenue Brewery buildings are at left and the tall brick buildings on the 100 N block are in the background right.

Street view

Fulton Avenue looking north at Pennsylvania, approximately where the new overpass for the Lloyd Expressway now spans

Mann’s went out of business around 1897, and the building later housed a mattress company and served as storage rooms for other companies.  In 1905, A Hohenstein established his furniture company there, which would later be renamed Hohenstein-Harmetz Furniture Co after adding a partner.  The furniture factory was destroyed during by a fire in May 15, 1908.  The furniture company relocated but the brick structure was rebuilt.

Evansville Journal News 5/16/1908

Evansville Journal News 5/16/1908

During renovations, it was remodeled for Simon V Levi’s department store.  The store opened in the fall of 1908.  Another fire in 1915 gutted the building, but again it was rebuilt and Levi’s Department Store remained at this location until eventually closeing in January 1926.

Levi 1911

Levi Devpartment Store 1911

Evansville Journal-News May 1, 1915

Evansville Journal-News May 1, 1915

Over the next years, the building served a hodgepodge of industries including the Tri-State Asbestos and Magnesia Co, the Tri-State Roofing and Waterproofing Co, and Standard Signs Inc.


1930s ad for Tri-State Asbestos & Magnesia Co


Another ad for the Tir-State Asbestos and Magnesia Co, 1930s

R E Nunley relocated his transfer company from the West Side in 1944.  The company would later add a partner and become Nunley-Garnder Inc, agents for the Mayflower Transit Co.  By 1950, the awning was gone, the windows were bricked up, and street-level entrance was butchered thus killing the curb appeal of this one-time beauty.

All bricked up

Nunley-Gardner – all bricked up and sad

Nunley-Gardner moved out to Grand Ave around 1980, but the building was used for storage for years.  Recent attempts to sell the vacant property have failed, so sadly demolition seems like its fate.  Here are a few images of the building as it looks now.

107-11 N Fulton on its death bed

107-11 N Fulton on its death bed

Mesker plaque on the front of the building

Mesker plaque on the front of the building

View along alley

View along alley

Rear view covered in ivy

Rear view covered in ivy

Welcome no one.  Street level entrance has been made unwelcoming

Welcome no one–the street level entrance has been made unwelcoming

TOMORROW: 101-3 N Fulton Avenue which was razed last week

West Side Pumping Station / West Side Pool

Many years ago, the Evansville Water Works established a pumping station on the West Side to serve the growing part of town. It was located at the northeast corner of Pennsylvania St and Ninth Ave. A brick pumphouse was built on the corner, and a 250,000 gallon reservoir was located just to the left (north). It opened in 1892 and helped supplement the old Water Works building off Riverside Dr.

Sketch of the West End Pumping Station c1904

Sketch of the West End Pumping Station c1904

Map of the West End Pumping Station (1895 Sanborn)

Map of the West End Pumping Station (1895 Sanborn Map)

In 1900, when the Waterworks Department built its new plant off Waterworks Rd–where it still is today–the station was no longer needed and sat vacant. It was, however, called back into service for a short time when a cave-in occurred at the new facility in early 1904.

Gentlemen near the West  Side Pumping Station 1908

Gentlemen near the West Side Pumping Station 1908

Around 1909, city officials saw the potential of converting the old station into a pool. Famed local architect F J Schlotter was tasked with designing plans to renovate it. The reservoir was partially filled in (so it wasn’t so deep) and changing rooms were built around the perimeter. The West Side Pool opened in the summer of 1909 as the city’s first municipal bathing house.

Map of the new West Side Pool (bath houses have been added and the reservoir converted to a pool)

Map of the new West Side Pool.  Bath houses have been added and the reservoir converted to a pool (1910 Sanborn Map)

West Side City Pool 1919

West Side City Pool with the pumphouse in the background 1919

The pool remained opened into the early 1920s, but was abandoned after it was deemed unsafe.  It was later razed.  Around 1955 the West Side Expressway was built on Pennsylvania St, and today there is no trace of the old pool.

Where the pump station /old pool used to be

Where the pump station /old pool used to be (Google Maps)