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eBay Find: Intersection of Meridian and 14th Streets in 1908

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

I'm always keeping an eye out for interesting historical items popping up on eBay and other online sale sites. Sometimes I find interesting items, such as old canal documents or photos, sometimes there isn't much worth hitting the Buy It Now button. But a few weeks ago I ran across a postcard (there are tons of old postcards on eBay) of a scene that I hadn't seen before.

Indianapolis antique postcard history Meridian Street

The post card depicts Meridian Street at 14th Street looking north on what is a very residential scene, very much different from the Meridian Street of today, which is devoid of residences along this stretch. Instead, the scene now includes a variety of commercial buildings and parking lots:

A photo similar to this postcard was found in the Indiana Historical Society Image Archive, although the season is different, and the IHS photo is dated circa 1890. While no date is published on this postcard, the mailing date is 1908. The identification of 14th Street indicates that this postcard was developed after the wave of street name changes which occurred in the 1890's (for example, in 1887, 14th Street was known as 5th Street).

Of note, this intersection was the location of the Vinton-Pierce House, located at 1415 N. Meridian and a local landmark which was reputed to be one of the oldest homes on Meridian until it was razed in 1938. The home was well documented by the Indiana Historical Society Image Archives. These may be found by searching "Pierce Family Photos" on the IHS digital image page. The home was originally constructed around 1860 using plans developed by Francis Costigan, the architect who constructed the Lanier Mansion in Madison and several structures here in Indianapolis. Almus Vinton, an early citizen of Indianapolis and owner of a variety of mills and foundries around the city owned the home. After his death in 1870, his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, David Pierce, would take possession of the home. Elizabeth Pierce died in 1937. 

Comparing the homes visible in the postcard image with homes in the background of in the various Vinton-Pierce photos from the IHS, I think the Vinton-Pierce home is located on the right side of the postcard image, just out of frame. Historic Indianapolis has a post from 2011 which discusses the rather unique gingko tree located behind the now former WFYI building which now occupies the site of the house, and was likely around while the house still stood. The 1908 Baist map for this area is pictured below. Note that this image combines two maps into one. Meridian Street is the center line where the two maps were spliced together.

Indianapolis History antique photo
IUPUI Sanborn and Baist Map Collection, 1908, #'s 7 and 8.

As for the postcard's message, there are two inscriptions. The first is on the front of the card, in the lower margin and states "I would like to have a sample of that Kansas corn haha." The addressee on the back is a Miss Lena Nutell (EDIT: A comment to this post on Facebook garnered a suggestion that the name is Lena N. Hall) from Sedan, Kansas, which explains the Kansas reference on the front.

The sender doesn't appear to identify themselves, although most of their message is legible:

"Hello Lena

Did you say North Meridian St? Yes Received your card and think it would be gran to spend a summer afternoon there with _____? (Guess who) I am home with a sore foot am having a lovely time think I will have it stay sore I get a rest this way I am truly [illegible]."

The postcard was mailed sometime in February of 1908 from Indianapolis. I haven't been able to track down the addressee, although I'm still not sure of the last name. Any suggestions out there? (EDIT: I will attempt to find some info on Ms. Hall now that we have a correct name) 


History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Barry Sulgrove, 1884

Indianapolis Star, January 31, 1937

Indiana Historical Society Digital Images, as noted above.

IUPUI Sanborn and Baist Map Collection, 1908, #'s 7 and 8.

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