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)

Century Club: Germania Maennerchor

Germania Maennerchor, a singing club dedicated to German heritage, was established in 1900 and relocated in 1910 to its current location on Fulton Avenue when the bought an old mansion just north of town.  The new clubhouse was completed and dedicated 100 years ago, so it’s your duty as a history enthusiast to attend Volksfest this weekend and drink some beer.

Germania Maennerchor shortly after completion 1914

Germania Maennerchor shortly after completion 1914

The growing Germania organization boomed to over 400 members necessitating a larger clubhouse, so once the mortgage on the old Lahr residence was paid off, plans were drawn by famed local architect Frank J. Schlotter during the summer of 1913.  Members enjoyed using the back of the property for entertaining (come this weekend and you can see why for yourself), so it was desired to build in front of the old home.  A two-story structure of pressed dark red brick with Kentucky limestome for trim was designed that fronted Fulton Avenue where the road narrows.  On the first floor was a reception room, billiards room, check room, ladies’ parlor and a probe zimmer (German for “tasting room”).  The upper floor had an open design and had a large hall with a stage at the northern end.  The hall, which hosted several performances, boasted a rigging loft and equipment as nice as any theater and also had dressing rooms.  The design also had a driveway where the street entrance is now that allowed members to get back to the old house.  The stage above served as a porte cochere or a covering for those dropping off members at the club’s side entrance.

Ground was broken early September 1913 and the cornerstone was laid October 19th.  A time capsule was placed inside the cornerstone, and members of other societes as well as any Germans were invited to a public ceremony of song.  The building ran a cost of $18,000 and was dedicated over a three day period May 27-29, 1914.  Crowds had to be turned away for some of the festivities, which included Mayor Benjamin Bosse speaking.

A significant remodel occurred in 1939 at which time the murals were painted. The first floor was altered and the entrance was moved to where the driveway stood. (It was originally under the third bank of windows, below the “ERC” in Maennerchor).

In 1947, the old home was torn down and a new boiler house was built in the rear.  Later, a 2nd story was added above the boiler room including a kitchen.

Advertisement for 1939 Volksfest

Advertisement for 1939 Volksfest

Volksfest, which has been an annual tradition since it began in 1934 (save a few years after World War II), runs this weekend.  See their Facebook page for more information

Red Cross Seeks Conservation Help

The Red Cross Evansville-Wabash Valley Regional Office is very fortunate to have 17 original Karl K. Knecht ink sketches on display. Knecht went to work as the cartoonist at the Evansville Courier where his first cartoon appeared in September 1906. In addition to drawing cartoons for the paper, Knecht became staff photographer in 1917 when the newspaper bought its first camera and also wrote columns and reviews. His “Say, Kay! What of Folks, Shows, Animals N’ Such” column appeared weekly from 1919 until 1954. Knecht was named director of the paper and served as vice president from 1952 to 1960. For most of Knecht’s career, his cartoons appeared seven days a week on the front page until 1954 when they were moved to the editorial page. Knecht worked for the Courier for so long that he came to be known as the “dean of editorial cartoonists”.

Knecht was also involved with the circus. He helped organize the Circus Fans Association in 1925 and was both secretary-treasurer and president of that organization and produced its magazine, White Tops. He also helped found the Mesker Zoo in Evansville after he was given a pair of lions in the late 1920s.

Knecht was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. In 1953, Knecht received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Evansville College and July 22, 1954 was proclaimed Karl Kae Knecht Day in Evansville, Indiana. He was also a supporter of numerous charitable causes and would at times use his cartoons to bring attention to these causes, with one them being the American Red Cross. His cartoons are in collections of presidential libraries for Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. He also has a very large display at the University of Evansville.

Recently, the Red Cross had two volunteers help repair a number of pictures frames. Through those efforts the Red Cross learned that the Knecht Collection did not have any conservation framing, which was resulting in the pieces deteriorating. The Red Cross is interested in finding an organization or individual who could sponsor its efforts to preserve his work. A local frame shop has offered a discounted rate to do the work, which would include new rag single mats, conservation clear glass, rag backing, dissembling them, fitting and leveling hangers.

You are invited to assist the Red Cross in its effort to preserve an important part of the history of the Evansville community. The quote with discount was $1,566.32. The Red Cross is hoping to secure funding for $1,700 so that it can create a small plaque that explains Karl K. Knetch’s relationship and passion for the American Red Cross and the Evansville community that could be put on display with his collection.

A. F. Horn Box Factory

A vacant Atlas Box today

A vacant Atlas Box today at 201 Pennsylvania Ave

Albert F Horn established his box company around 1910 making cigar boxes.  After a fire destroyed his previous plant, Horn constructed this building in 1912 at the corner of Garfield St and Division St and opened shop.

Article from Sept 22, 1912 Courier

Article from Sept 22, 1912 Courier

It was in 1919 when Albert’s son took over the company and renamed it the Atlas Box Company.  A two-story brick addition was built in 1930 giving the building its “L” shape.

Addition built 1930

Addition built 1930

Atlas Box Co was bought out by one of the nation’s leading manufacturers Autokraft. The business was relocated, but the property was not included in the sale and was leased out. It was later purchased by Ian Lockhart whose signature was retrofitting the old windows with decorative concrete block.

Charles Pike purchased Superior Mattress and all its supplies and equipment from Waterbury, CT in 1959. The family proceeded to move the entire factory to Evansville, IN and founded Superior Mattress Co in the old Atlas Box factory. When they started their business in January 1960, there were still some cigar boxes in the building.

Mr and Mrs Charles Pike owners

Mr and Mrs Charles Pike owners

Superior Mattress ad 1988

Superior Mattress ad 1988

Superior Mattress went bankrupt and Pike sold the building in 1989. It has since been an auction house and a private club (likely when the eyes were painted on the windows).  The current owners of the building abandoned it, and it is falling apart.  The roof has collapsed in and the building is no longer safe to enter.

Rear view see some graffiti and crumblin brick where roof has collapsed

Rear view showing some graffiti and crumbling brick where roof has collapsed

Relatives of the Pike family opened the Mattress Factory showroom in 1990 in the building next door. The large brick building at 213 W Division St was originally part of the Advanced Stove Works complex, but we’ll save that for another article. A distribution center established in 2006 was named Superior Mattress in honor of Charles

Some parts and pictures credit Superior Mattress and Alice Ling (Charles Pike’s niece)


R. E. Nunley Truck Terminal

R E Nunley built his truck terminal warehouse on Franklin St in 1935 for his growing transfer company.  The new store which opened June 13, 1935 also boasted a retail food market, a sandwich shop, and a barber.  The company specialized in moving and storage would soon outgrow this facility and relocate.  It would later become Nunley-Gardner Transfer Co on Fulton Ave.

New Nunley Terminal Warehouse

New Nunley Terminal Warehouse

Southern Indiana Beverage Co established its home in the old warehouse around 1938.  They were beer distributors that served the area after Prohibition.  The company was later succeded by Vanco Beverage Co and was for a while the only distributor approved by the newly formed Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC).  It should surprise no one that beer sales, so much that Vanco needed a larger facility.  The company moved to Fulton Ave in what we believe was the old Crazy Larry’s where the new Cedar Hall now stands.

Vanco Beverage 1946 (courtesy of Donahue Collection)

Vanco Beverage 1946 (photo courtesy of Donahue Collection)

After Vanco’s stint in the warehouse, Syl Lutterbach opened his beer and wine retail business.  What make this interesting is he opened a drive-in tavern where users could get beer to go, akin to what’s still in Texas today.  One issue was that it was totally illegal, and he was forced shut down the drive through once the ABC caught wind of it.  Lutterbach was however allowed to operate his business but as a retailer only.

Syl's Drive In Beer Depot - why was this a bad idea?

Ad for Syl’s Drive In Beer Depot – why was this a bad idea?

In recent years the truck terminal has served a variety of concerns, but is currently operating as A & S Electrical Service

A & S Electrical Service

Still standing tall, now as A & S Electrical Service