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Full text of "The Columbia Street story"

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The HF Group 

Indiana Plant 
054736 2 1 00 



6/20/2006 




by 

Roy M. Bates 

and 

Kenneth 6. Keller 



_ o \ £* 



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by 

Roy M. Bates 

and 

Kenneth B. Keller 






TlON 



FORT WAY^^E&ALLLM CO., .■-■^' 



Fort Wayne Public Library 

Fort Wayne, Indiana 

1975 



Ivan A . Lebamoff, Mayor 

Fort Wayne Bicentennial Commission 

Ladonna Huntley, Chairman 



Board of Trustees of the Fort Wayne Public Library 

Charles E. Slater, President 

Allan J. Tremper, Vice-President 
Helen Knoblauch, Secretary 

Florence Buirley, Treasurer 
Juanita Edwards 

Paul Lauletta 

Willard Shambaugh 

Public Library Board for Allen County includes seven 
members above and 

Vera Dulin 

Rhuea Graham 

William E. Miller 

Helen Reynolds 



INTRODUCTION 

The tri -state region, confined by lines drawn 
from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Lansing, Detroit, 
Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, and Indianapolis, com- 
prises an area approximately the size of the state of 
Indiana. Fort Wayne has consistently through the 
years been this area's most populous city, challenged 
only occasionally by Gary, Indiana. 

Early in the aboriginal era, the portage at what 
is now Fort Wayne was found to be the shortest route 
between the Great Lakes and the inland waterways . 
Here a ten-mile overland trail connected the Maumee 
and Wabash rivers . As the French, the British, and 
later the Americans arrived, the importance of this 
portage was apparent, and forts were erected to com- 
plete control of this connecting link and area. 

General Anthony Wayne, after subjugating the 
confederated Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, 
proceeded directly to the headwaters of the Maumee 
River. Here he erected a fortification, which was 
dedicated on October 22, 1794, and named Fort Wayne. 
At first the growth of the community around the fort 
was very slow but was greatly accelerated after the 
Wabash and Erie Canal came to the village. 

Columbia Street paralleled the canal one -half 
block to the south in the business district of the city 
and became the principal business street. The rail- 
roads later preempted the function of the canal and 
greatly intensified the street's activity. The co- 
authors of this publication have attempted to portray 
for the reader the considerable business activity 
which existed here and to point out the importance of 
the street to this area over a period of almost 140 
years. With the advent of commercial motor vehicles, 
the decline of the street came rapidly. Merchants 
were no longer dependent on railroad sidings for 
receipt of merchandise and could locate and expand 
their establishments in outlying areas. Fort Wayne's 
recent redevelopment program absorbed four of the 
street's five blocks. The 100 block of West Columbia 
Street is now called "The Landing." 



The following story of Columbia Street proceeds 
as the street developed from east to west. The ac- 
count was gleaned largely from the many Fort Wayne 
newspapers published through the years and a few 
interviews with descendants of former business 
people associated with the street. 

Roy M. Bates and Kenneth B. Keller 



FOREWORD 

The joint sponsors of this publication, the Fort 
Wayne Bicentennial Commission, the Board of Trustees 
of the Fort Wayne Public Library, and the Public 
Library Board for Allen County are pleased to present 
the COLUMBIA STREET STORY. 

The paper has been prepared as a local com- 
memoration of the American Revolution Bicentennial, 
1776-1976. The authors have made considerable 
effort to verify facts, personal and place names, and 
dates. Errors may have inadvertently occurred, as 
old Fort Wayne newspapers provided source material. 
The sponsors wish to express sincere appreciation to 
the coauthors, Roy M. Bates and Kenneth B. Keller. 
They have recorded an important chapter in the city's 
commercial and economic history and have incorpo- 
rated the picturesque social life of the period. 



A GAY COLUMBIA STREET GREETED 
20TH CENTURY! 

Dust off bowlers and turn back the clock --it's 
Saturday night on Columbia Street! 

These were the five blocks that usurped the in- 
tended schematics of Fort Wayne and controlled the 
ebb and flow of the city's economy for many years . 

As its name implies, Main Street was laid out for 
that purpose --but Columbia Street fooled the planners 
and started playing host to the city's commerce and 
culture when the canal came, and continued that role 
for several decades after the railroads puffed in, 
forced the canal to run dry, and settled permanently 
in the transportation field . 

Columbia Street Saturday ni^ts were a tumult 
of people, buggies, wagons, blazing store windows, 
and panhandlers. The heavy odors of malt and sawdust 
fanned over the sidewalks from swinging doors to 
tempt or revolt the shoppers . 

A policeman with walrus mustache lumbered 
through the crowds and when he tarried for any length, 
it was accepted that a lane soon would be cleared for 
the horse-drawn police paddy wagon- -its warning bell 
could be heard for blocks . 

The dreaded conveyance usually came for the 
panhandlers who were inclined to settle matters of 
competition with their fists . 

This was Columbia Street of the early 20th 
Century- -famous for its wares, its cuisine, its bar- 
bershops and above all, its people. It was an avenue 
of saloons, free lunches and enterprise. 

During its life as the city's real Main Street, 
old Columbia Street saw some 2, 500 different busi- 
nesses come and go along its short spread. 

Mornings were a strange contrast- -some of the 
merchants came to their offices in silent, gliding 
electric cars --they were a signal for the barbers to 



check their linens . 

Some remember the old battery station, at the 
present site of Coopers, Washington and Broadway, 
where weird lights flickered all night as batteries for 
the electrics were charged for the next day's use. 

Today Columbia Street breeds nostalgia for those 
who remember the magic of her youth. Saturday 
nights are filled with shadows now, for Columbia's 
single block has settled down to the tempo of wholesale 
houses and hostelries. But she certainly had her fling! 

The old business day started early on Columbia 
Street- -at 7:00 a.m. and the doors closed reluctantly 
at 6:00 p.m. Saturday generally was payday in Fort 
Wayne and that meant longer hours from 7:00 a.m. to 
11:00 p.m. for store workers. 

Their own payday was prudently timed after the 
evening lunch period on Saturday. 

A typical business was the H.J. Ash kitchen- 
ware and stove firm which stood in the 100 block east. 
For many years it was the best -kept agency in the 
nation for the Garland Stove Company. Fred Ash, 
associated with his father in the business, couldn't 
tolerate dust or fingerprints and he was out to banish 
them from the time he arrived until the doors closed 
for the day . 

And so there was never a dull moment for anyone 
hired to "flunky" in the store. The day opened with 
sweeping the sidewalks, which had been sprinkled first 
to lay the dust, and then the store. The windows were 
washed daily and the handyman helped trim them, too. 

The nickel work of the ornate stoves on the dis- 
play line had to be rubbed constantly to erase finger- 
prints of shoppers and freshening up Ash's office was 
a daily chore. The showcases had to be cleaned inside 
and out once a week, and the shelves kept filled with 
stock. 

In the winter, the basement furnace and five 
heating stoves had to be stoked. When the essentials 
had been taken care of, there were stoves to be un- 
crated and assembled. And the handyman still found 
time to help deliver and install stoves of various kinds. 

Stove hauling and installing was a heavy, dirty 



task and often the nearby swinging doors had a special 
temptation for these laborers. Every time the Ash 
dray left the loading platform in the rear with a burden 
of polished cast iron, it had to pass one or two famous 
saloons --Dutch Heine's or Norm Hendrickson's . 

The young men who helped keep the business 
running were rarely tempted. They often visited the 
saloons for a glass of milk which gave them access to 
the free lunch including a wide assortment of cold 
meats and cheese . 

It was a popular custom for them to close a long 
Saturday with a pie -eating contest at the Crescent 
Restaurant around the corner on Calhoun Street. This 
bilious pastime was a tribute to the culinary art of 
the day. 

There was another responsibility, happily ban- 
ished for many years now, that Mr. Ash was equally 
touchy about; the cuspidors had to be kept fresh and 
sparkling. 

Roy M. Bates, Allen County historian, remem- 
bers the store very well --he was a handyman there 
for five years . On occasion, he even found time to 
wash and polish the boss's Overland roadster, which 
was garnished with brass headlamps, brass running 
lights, brass windshield frame and support rods. These 
had to shine like the spittoons . 

The Columbia Street businessmen usually got the 
day started while stroking their chins . The store boys 
were dispatched to the nearest barbers for tickets -- 
there was to be no time wasted in barbershops . By 
hook or crook, these enterprising young men always 
had to know when their bosses' numbers were about to 
turn up. 

The Wayne (now Rosemarie) Hotel employed 
thirteen barbers and they were busy from morning 
until night. These shops, had their "boys" too --lather 
boys . A fellow started the barber trade then by learn- 
ing to apply lather. Most of the Columbia customers 
had their own cups with gold initials and brushes in the 
barbershops of their choice. It was unthought-of for a 
businessman to shave at home. 

Hoff Brau House was a stone's toss away from the 



Ash store on the southeast corner of Calhoun and 
Columbia. Proprietor Harry Wiebke made the estab- 
lishment famous throughout the Midwest. It was a 
picturesque place with a timbered exterior borrowed 
from Nuremberg and lush accommodations for private 
dinner parties . The Hoff Brau got fifty cents for a club 
sandwich when king-sized hamburgers were selling 
for a nickel . 

To the east, in sequence, were a brave little mid- 
dle class restaurant, the Scheiffer shoe store, the 
B. R. Noll drug store, Pickard house furnishing com- 
pany, the Ash store and finally the City Rescue Mis- 
sion whose tenants on a late Saturday night must have 
been frustrating to the meticulous Mr. Ash. 

Not far away Andy and Jesse Brosius opened the 
city's first Ford agency although their showroom was 
little more than a "hole in the wall." 

Columbia Street was tolerant of its minority 
patrons who asked nothing more than a bare existence. 
For years the street was home for two men who mixed 
cunning with panhandling and spent their nights in a 
curious hideaway under the south arch of the Clinton 
Street Bridge . 

One answered to the name of "Never sweat" and 
the other, Jeff. Something tragic had happened to 
Jeff- -he was a highly educated man and former school 
teacher . 

Their artifices were jig-dancing in the barber- 
shops or hammering out crude and sometimes mean- 
ingless articles which could be peddled for a pittance. 
They combed the butcher shops for meat scraps and 
"gleaned" stray onions and potatoes from the produce 
houses . 

They wined on flavoring extract and the juices 
they could squeeze from canned heating pastes . 

Even so, they never got reckless until the first 
snow came to Columbia Street. Then they got out of 
line just enough to merit county penal farm sentences 
that provided food and shelter during cold weather. 
For winters on end. Never sweat tended the penal farm 
poultry and Jeff the swine . 

They were proud of their summer home under 



the bridge, and an invitation to visit it was a mark of 
esteem they rarely showed their fellowmen. 

There were others of similar ambition but far 
less skilled in the art of panhandling. Jeff and 
Neversweat were fixtures and won for themselves, if 
nothing more, a fondness in memory that likely would 
surprise them . They were part of the color that has 
left Columbia's cheek. 



THE CITY'S FIRST PULSE THROBBED 
ON COLUMBIA 

Columbia Street, the cradle of metropolitan Fort 
Wayne, leaves only one block of itself to remind how a 
community grew out of the wagon tracks . 

The Landing, which captures the old atmosphere, 
is all that remains of the city's birthright. 

Columbia Street was never intended to spawn a 
great Hoosier city; John T. Barr, Baltimore merchant 
and wealthy John McCorkle of Piqua, Ohio thought Main 
Street would be main street when they platted the vil- 
lage in 1823 after buying what is now the center of the 
city for $1 .25 an acre . 

But these enterprising gentlemen did not know 
that nine years later thousands of immigrant laborers 
would start digging a waterway to connect Lake Erie 
with interior Indiana. The Wabash and Erie Canal 
commissioners chose Columbia Street for its frontage. 
Thus Main Street lost out as the flower of commerce . 

However, the real origin of Columbia Street was 
rooted in savagery: it developed from a side trail of 
greatest convenience to the old fort. Its original east- 
ern terminus, Lafayette Street, was at the threshold 
of the stockade. It became the line of demarcation 
between the tomahawk and the business ledger. 

This story of Columbia Street, never fully cov- 
ered in narrative, is drawn from the archives of Roy 
M. Bates, Fort Wayne and Allen County historian who 
has spent years documenting the subject. Along its 
five-block length occurred more "firsts" in the devel- 



opment of a community than perhaps can be attributed 
to any other street. 

Its history was so intense during the developing 
years that 60 per cent of the facts concerning it have 
been lost to research, Bates believes . At least 2, 500 
businesses have come to Columbia Street, and gone. 

The chronology of business along the street be- 
came a babel. The street numbering system began 
east to west, was reversed in later years and finally 
split east and west at Calhoun Street. In some in- 
stances, business houses bore two sets of numbers. 

Three famous old buildings gave Columbia Street 
an identity as far back as 1820 --the Samuel Hanna log 
trading post built in that year, Alexander Ewing House 
(Washington Hall) which made its appearance two years 
later and the Suttenfield Tavern, 1823, all at the inter- 
section of Barr and Columbia streets . They served as 
town meeting places and the first function of municipal 
government began there. 

During its busy life, covering nearly a century 
and a half, not a single lot along the street escaped 
the ravages of fire. Estimating conservatively, Bates 
thinks the sum of these losses down through the years 
represented the destruction of at least one -fourth of 
the modern Fort Wayne. 

The structures of brick and stone which rose 
over the busy thoroughfare bore the ornate architec- 
tural garnish of the period. What remains of Columbia 
Street has been described as the most architecturally 
consistent in the city, and is the last street bearing 
any resemblance to the remembered past. 

"It is interesting to leisurely visit the street and 
carefully observe its aging structures with their cast 
iron fronts, roof adornments and upper windows of 
yesterday's gaunt design," Bates points out. 

Buildings on the north side of Columbia actually 
fronted on the canal but for years their finery was 
wasted on an alley used for deliveries . 

The existence of Columbia Street cannot be sep- 
arated from four pioneer forts, the sites of which are 
all within the corporate limits of the city. The first 
French fort was built about 1700 just west of the 



present Van Buren Street Bridge about the time the 
capitol of the Mian^i nation, Kekionga, was established 
in what is now Lakeside. The commandant of this first 
military stronghold, known as Post Miami, was 
Baptiste Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes . This fortifica- 
tion was burned by the Indians in 1747. A second 
French fort was built by M. de Raimond on a new site 
overlooking the St. Joseph River near what is now 
Delaware Avenue. Occupied in 1750, the stockade was 
taken over by the British in 1760 near the close of the 
French and Indian War. 

The first American fort was fabricated from 
wilderness materials in September, 1794 near what 
was the east end of Columbia Street --some of the 
stockade was in the path of the Wabash and Erie Canal. 
It was named after the builder. General Anthony Wayne, 
who shattered Indian resistance in the old Northwest 
Territory, and the name remained with the community 
that sprang up in its shelter . 

The second American fort, constructed in 1800 
by Col. Thomas Hunt, stood at the present intersection 
of Main and Clay streets, and for a time the two forti- 
fications stood a block apart . 

The military influence upon the city ceased in 
1819 when the troops withdrew, leaving the lonesome 
community to fend for itself. It was incorporated as 
a town in 1829 and as a city in 1841. 

Land offered by the government went on sale at 
Washington Hall or Ewing's Tavern in October, 1823. 
Since the first court house did not make an appearance 
until 1831, the business of the County Commissioners 
and Allen Circuit Court was conducted in Washington 
Hall. 

Samuel Hanna's trading post served as the first 
post office, and Hanna was instrumental in development 
of the canal through the city. It was an advantage, of 
course, to have the waterway parallel Columbia Street. 

Strangely, the street that was to flourish so 
abundantly took its name from a hawk-nosed hotel 
proprietor, Dana Columbia; obviously he was of a 
personality that made a deep impression upon the 
growing community and his twenty -two room hostelry 



which stood on the site of the Wayne (now Rosemarie) 
Hotel was a popular gathering place. 

Twice during the middle of the 19th Century flood 
waters invaded Columbia Street. In the spring of 1844 
rainfall was so heavy that water collected on both sides 
of the canal and the street itself became a morass 
where people sank to their knees in muck. This ca- 
tastrophe led Isaac D. G. Nelson to finance the manu- 
facture of tile so the land of the area could be drained. 

In May, 1851 heavy rains again flooded the cen- 
tral city and canalboats floated off into the streets in 
the vicinity of Columbia and Harrison streets. 

The confusion of record concerning Columbia 
Street began January 21, 1851 when an ordinance was 
passed to number business houses westward, begin- 
ning at Lafayette Street. On October 29, 1859 the 
City Council ordered the numbering to proceed from 
Harrison Street eastward and the climax came Novem- 
ber 8, 1871 when a final renumbering was ordered 
east and west from Calhoun Street. 

The wear and tear that came to Columibia Street 
also is evidenced by records of the City Council. The 
planking of the street was authorized in April, 1853 
and on June 25, 1879 legislators noted the street had 
been graded between Barr and Lafayette streets . 

A trial pavement of Nicholson block was ordered 
for the intersection of Clinton and Columbia on April 
27, 1864 and the following August 24 a contract for 
this type of paving was awarded to B. H. Kimball & 
Company, Chicago, at $2.60 a square yard. The street 
squirmed a little at progress because on September 14 
of that year a contract for that part of the work be- 
tween Calhoun and Barr streets was in controversy. 
On October 2, 1865, three blocks of Nicholson Block 
paving were completed on Columbia. 

Complete repaving of Columbia with shale block 
was ordered August 6, 1909 and over this eventually 
applied the modern asphalt treatment . 

An omnibus service came to the street Septem- 
ber 5, 1859 under a contract that provided six round 
trips daily over all planked streets of the city, the 
fares being five and ten cents. 



Columbia Street again reneged at progress in the 
form of a remonstrance against a streetcar line being 
laid; merchants believed the noise and movement of the 
cars would discourage horse-drawn traffic. 

Merchants finally acquiesced for on March 5, 1892 
rails and cars for the Columbia and Lakeside Street 
Railway were ordered . 

Lakesiders followed up with a remonstrance 
against placing the track at one side of the street on 
June 10, 1892 --four blocks of the track already had 
been laid . 

The first shipment of three electric streetcars 
arrived on June 17, 1892 and soon the clang of the 
trolley was added to the commercial hubbub of Colum- 
bia Street. 



FLAMES DID THEIR BEST 
TO DESTROY COLUMBIA STREET 

Columbia Street's five -block stretch of industry 
and merchandising always held doggedly to the tenet of 
business as usual despite a plague of fires that began in 
1849 and persisted until today. 

More smoke from Columbia Street business 
disasters darkened the Fort Wayne skies than along 
any other local business thoroughfare. 

The first recorded conflagration, during the sum- 
mer of 1849, destroyed an entire block of fifteen busi- 
ness houses on Columbia and Main streets, westward 
from Calhoun. The fire started in mid -block on the 
west side of Calhoun Street and spread with the pre- 
vailing winds . 

On the heels of this waste came Fort Wayne's 
first official fire limit which made illegal the construc- 
tion of wooden buildings within that area bounded by 
the Wabash and Erie Canal (just north of Columbia), 
Main, Barr and Harrison streets; the business heart- 
land of the city at that time . 

Fort Wayne's first fire department had been 



formed in 1834, consisting of a muscle -powered 
engine company, a hose company and a hook and ladder 
unit. This fire -fighting cluster was organized into the 
Anthony Waynes in 1841. Each house was required 
to supply its own fire buckets . 

By October 31, 1865 nine fire cisterns, filled at 
considerable expense from the canal, had been con- 
structed in the business district. Already several had 
been excavated under Columbia Street. As late as 
1881 a man fell into the cistern at Lafayette and 
Columbia streets and drowned. Those not particularly 
concerned with fire safety, good health or the law 
surreptitiously drew their water supply from these 
cisterns . 

On February 28, 1897 fire wiped out the Morgan 
& Beach Hardware housed in the Morgan Building (10-21 
East Columbia Street) causing between $125, 000 and 
$150,000 loss. This time the flames spread to the 
Nathan, Kircheimer & Company wholesale paper house, 
the Romary Goeglein hardware store and westward to 
Julius Nathan wholesale liquors and the stove and tin- 
ware business of Alexander Staub. The west wall of 
the Morgan Building collasped after the fire, adding 
to the loss . 

Another assault upon "business as usual" came 
December 27, 1899 when flames destroyed the whole- 
sale and retail dry goods of George Dewald & Company 
and the Mathias F . Kaag chinaware store both housed 
in a four -story building on the northeast corner of 
Calhoun and Colunabia streets. 

At the time the DeWald Building was a Fort Wayne 
landmark; Robert T. DeWald, president of the firm, 
announced the building would be torn down and re- 
placed and temporary quarters were opened in the 
Baltes Block, southeast corner of Berry and Harrison 
streets --later the site of famous Berghoff Gardens. 
Kaag later purchased and assumed management of the 
H. Ward crockery business at 8 West Columbia Street. 
The fire loss was estimated at $225, 000. 

There was a respite until February 5, 1905 when 
flames ravaged the Weil Building on the north side of 
Columbia between Barr and Lafayette streets, wiping 



10 



out the shirtwaist plant of Paragon Manufacturing 
Company which had leased the premises in 1894, Four 
days after the fire Charles MacDougal, owner of 
Paragon, announced the firm would move to new leased 
quarters at 825-27 South Barr Street. The Weil Build- 
ing was rebuilt. 

The $150,000 Mayflower Mills fire on May 21, 
1911 is still remembered and this firm left Columbia 
Street, building a new plant at Leesburg Road and the 
Nickel Plate Road (now Norfolk & Western). The mill- 
ing plant on the site of the present Fisher Brothers 
Building was destroyed . Bates remembers stopping to 
watch the fire -fighting on his way home from Sunday 
School. 

The last of the great Columbia Street fires oc- 
curred in 1957 and destroyed the Fort Wayne Waste - 
paper Company, a building formerly housing the Globe 
Mills and later the Globe Printing Company, on the 
northeast corner of Barr and Columbia streets . There 
were many other lesser fires . 

Columbia Street "first" in the development of 
the present community dates back to 1820 when the first 
post office was established on the northwest corner of 
Barr and Columbia- -the Barnett & Hanna Trading Post 
where Samuel Hanna served as first postmaster. 

The first hotel (Washington Hall) was built by 
Alexander Ewing on the southwest corner of Columbia 
and Barr. It was also called Ewing's Tavern. 

Organization of Allen County occurred on Decem- 
ber 17, 1823 in Washington Hall and the county seat 
selected effective April 1, 1824. 

First session of the County Commissioners was 
held May 26, 1824 in Washington Hall. 

First session of the Circuit Court, August 9, 
1824 also convened in Washington Hall and court con- 
tinued there until the first court house was built in 
1831. 

The city's first brick structure was erected in 
September, 1824 at 205 East Columbia by James 
Barnett and the last occupant, after a long tenure, was 
the Schweeters Bakery which quit business in 1907. 
The building near the northwest corner of Columbia 



11 



and Clinton was razed a year later. 

The first Masonic building appeared in 1830 and 
was used by Wayne Lodge No. 25. This Masonic build- 
ing also housed the city's first newspaper, "The 
Sentinel"; Thomas Tigar was the original editor and 
the printing was done on a 500 -pound hand press 
brought from Indianapolis by horse and wagon. 

Fort Wayne Branch, Indiana State Bank was the 
first to begin banking in the city in the home of Francis 
Comparet on the south side of the street between Cal- 
houn and Harrison. Hugh McCuUoch, who later be- 
came first U.S. comptroller of the currency, was 
cashier and manager . 

The first telegraph line from Toledo to Fort 
Wayne was wired into the Fort Wayne Times office, 
northwest corner of Columbia and Clinton, in 1848. 

Fort Wayne's first glimpse of a railroad locomo- 
tive occurred at the Comparet canal basin, Columbia 
and Lafayette streets in 1852; the engine was brought 
here by canalboat to aid in construction of the Ohio 
and Indiana Railroad; this event proved to be the death 
knell of the thriving waterway. 

The first railway station was erected in 1853 on 
the northwest corner of Columbia and Lafayette --years 
afterward the site of the City Rescue Mission. The 
railroad ran up Lafayette Street and the freight house 
and yards extended almost to Clinton Street. 

Edward F. Colerick erected the first theater 
and meeting house in 1853, and it was converted into an 
opera house in 1864. Known as Colerick Hall, it was 
destroyed by fire in 1881. It was on the north side 
of the street between Clinton and Barr . 

The first mail into the city by rail in 1885 
was delivered into the Columbia Street station; recip- 
ient of the first letter was Royal Taylor. 

The city's first public bathhouse was established 
May 27, 1859, by Edward Colerick on the first floor 
of the opera house; admittance was twenty-five cents . 

Ice cream was introduced here in 1879 at the 
John G. Maier Grocery on Columbia Street between 
Calhoun and Clinton. 

The first teletype (then called writing telegraph) 



12 



was set up and operated in the lobby of the Wayne (now 
Rosemarie) Hotel on April 11, 1891. 

Fort Wayne's first hydraulic barber chair made 
its appearance in the barbershop of what is now the 
Rosemarie Hotel, December 29, 1899. 



THE OLD CANAL FINALLY DRIED UP, 
BUT COLUMBIA STREET KEPT ON! 

The Wabash and Erie Canal, the longest inland 
waterway ever excavated by man, gave Columbia 
Street a commercial sweep of 350 miles . 

It brought riches to a five -block business 
thoroughfare which in turn nourished the development 
of Fort Wayne into a great Midwestern city. 

The canal never actually tapped Lake Erie as 
its name indicates: it stretched from the Miami and 
Erie Canal at Junction City, southwest of Defiance, 
Ohio to Evansville . From Junction City (or Junction 
as the meeting of the waterways often was called) the 
Wabash and Erie traffic could veer either northward 
to Toledo or southward to Cincinnati. 

Fort Wayne was distinguished as the highest 
level on the canal. Technically referred to as the 
"summit level" the highest point extended from Glas- 
gow Avenue westward through the city to the present 
Fort Wayne Country Club. A lock at each end of the 
summit level defined the stretch. The canalboats 
from the east were locked upward into Fort Wayne, 
and downward to points west of the city. 

Congress ordered a survey of lands for the canal 
May 26, 1824 and in February, 1826 a Board of Canal 
Commissioners was appointed. The first commis- 
sioners were David Burr, Samuel Hanna and Robert 
Johns, all appointed by the state. Jessie L. Williams 
was named chief engineer for the project. 

First of the gigantic earth movements along the 
canal began in Fort Wayne on February 22, 1832: the 
first channel cut was the feeder canal which tapped 



13 



the St. Joseph River six miles north of the city where 
Robison Park later blossomed. It joined the main 
channel of the canal near the former Wayne Knitting 
Mills complex on West Main Street. This feeder 
brought water to supply the main canal . 

The construction work itself brought a new, 
sturdy population to the Wabash Valley- -thousands of 
Irish immigrants who cut the channel of the canal with 
hand tools . 

The first construction contract on the canal 
proper was awarded in June, 1832, for a fifteen -mile 
section through the summit level. 

The U. S. government gave Ohio and Indiana 
alternating sections of land along the route and sales 
of these properties helped finance construction. Land 
sales boomed in Fort Wayne area and a shantytown 
for canal workers and their families stretched west- 
ward from the intersection of Calhoun and Berry 
streets . 

Canal traffic between Fort Wayne and Huntington 
began July 4, 1835 and the completion of the waterway 
to Lake Erie was celebrated on the same national 
holiday eight years later. 

As early as 1847 the canal was in financial dif- 
ficulty at the state level because of heavy construction 
investments that did not pay off. However this had 
no effect upon traffic. The state sought to recover 
through the issuance of depreciated script known as 
"white dog." 

The state's financial embarrassment over the 
canal led to an 1851 constitutional provision limiting 
the bonded indebtedness of governmental units which 
remains effective today. 

In 1849 a steam -powered packet cruised from 
Toledo to Fort Wayne and several such boats made 
their appearance later. It is likely the wash from 
their propellers caused rapid deterioration of the canal 
banks . The steamer "John Good" made her trial trip 
in 1863: she was built in Roanoke by Captain Van Becker 
and her machinery was produced by the Fort Wayne 
Machine Works. She had a crusing speed of six miles 
an hour. The same year another steamer "King 



14 



Brothers" was entrusted to command of Captain 
Donovan and a third, the "St. Joe," began moving 
freight over the feeder canal and the St. Joe River to 
Leo. 

But at no time during the history of the canal, 
which ended on July 19, 1875, was the waterway com- 
pletely open to traffic from Junction City to Evansville. 
Collapse of the earthen banks and accumulations of 
silt were always blocking the passage of vessels at 
some point along the channel . 

The most heavily -traveled portion of the water- 
way was between Peru, Fort Wayne and Junction. For 
years Fort Wayne depended upon the canal for fire 
protection and the handling of water power rights along 
the channel at one time approached a public scandal. 
When the winter freeze came, the canal supplied ice 
for the next summer's crude refrigeration. 

In 1872 critics of the canal management claimed 
that the annual water power revenues of the waterways, 
averaging between $4, 000 and $6, 000, were only half 
of what they should have been. They further argued 
that inroads of the railroads were being used as an 
excuse for the meager revenues of the waterway. 

During October of that year, 721 boats carrying 
cargoes valued at $1, 208, 000 moved up and down the 
canal . 

Rafts of black walnut timber were floated down 
the canal to various mills and pleasure craft, largely 
with young people aboard, made frequent use of the 
waterway. But penalties were enforced for swimming 
or bathing in the canal . 

Downtown bridges across the canal were a fre- 
quent source of trouble and expense: in 1856 the center 
span of the Harrison Street bridge over the Orbison 
Basin collapsed under the weight of a circus band 
wagon. No lives were lost. 

Funds were voted for a pivot bridge over the 
canal at Calhoun Street in 1859 and the Barr Street 
span was closed for repairs . Barr Street finally was 
served by a pivot bridge and in 1863 the Harrison 
Street span was replaced by a swing bridge and street - 
level docking area. 



15 



During a committee meeting in Lafayette on 
February 3-4, 1874 it was decided the canal should be 
abandoned. A year later, canal commissioners asked 
an appropriation of $10, 000 for the repair of locks, 
aqueducts and other equipment: the Indiana General 
Assembly in 1873 authorized counties served by the 
waterway to appropriate up to $10, 000 for maintenance 
purposes . 

Finally on July 19, 1875, the state having de- 
faulted the payment of interest on bonds, the canal was 
ordered sold to pay the bondholders whose investments 
totaled $10 million. 

Judge Gookins of Terre Haute was named to con- 
duct the sale which drew a number of bidders on 
February 24, 1876. Jonathan E. Gapin of Terre Haute 
bought the right-of-way from Lafayette to the Ohio 
State Line for $85, 500 . Meanwhile, the United States 
Senate had taken steps to prevent sale of the property. 
The canal property through Allen County brought only 
$650. 

On March 31, 1876 the canal right-of-way from 
the feeder dam at Lagro to the Indiana-Ohio state line 
was purchased for $44, 500 by William Fleming of Fort 
Wayne, William Dolan, C. B. Knowlton, J. W. Dritt 
and C. H. Shirk. This later became the right-of-way 
of the Nickel Plate (Norfolk & Western) Railroad. 

But business, now firmly established onColumbia 
Street, went on as usual. 



COLUMBIA STREET FLIRTED 
WITH THE RAILROADS 

When the Wabash and Erie Canal, which brought 
life and prestige to Columbia Street, died in a welter 
of mud in 1876, the unsightly 468 -mile ditch became 
a strange battleground for aggressive railroad tycoons. 

Columbia Street already was flirting with the 
railroads and the death of the waterway only put her 
alongside what was to become one of the fastest freight 



16 



lines into the portal of the West. 

A country newspaper editor called it the "Nickel 
Plated Railroad" and the name (Nickel Plate Railroad) 
stuck until a few years ago. It is now a part of the 
Norfolk & Western system. 

Columbia Street even had the power to challenge 
the wealth and influence that proposed that the rail- 
road be laid between her curbings . Railroad interests 
settled for the canal route through Fort Wayne: mak- 
ing the fill was an expense they had hoped to avoid . 

The new railroad, first known as the New York, 
Chicago and St. Louis, posed a serious threat to the 
William H. Vanderbilt interests: a parallel competitor 
to his Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, which later 
became part of the New York Central. The Nickel 
Plate ballast had hardly settled when Vanderbilt 
acquired a controlling interest. 

The canal bed had become rather a headache to 
Columbia Street in 1876. The great basin at Harrison 
Street was being filled in for real estate development; 
the feeder dam at what was later Robison Park col- 
lapsed the following year; and in 1880 the canal bank 
gave way at Clinton Street, flooding basements and 
carrying away a timber sewer in which the city took 
great pride . The sewer was replaced with a brick 
structure . 

These things were a discouragement to "friends 
of the canal" who in 1879 held a convention in Hunting- 
ton and discussed the possibilities of resuming naviga- 
tion on the waterway between the Wabash River and 
Lake Erie. The canal at Logansport already had been 
filled in. 

The waterway was in receivership and rumors 
flew that private owners of the canal right-of-way 
were conniving with the railroad interests. True or 
not, fifty-six miles of the canal property were sold to 
the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad Febru- 
ary 12, 1881 --just three days after the Wabash Railroad 
made overtures to buy certain sections of abandoned 
waterway. 

The last cargoes of the few remaining canal - 
boats were dirt, moved unceremoniously to the larger 



17 



fills. 

Articles of consolidation of several railroads 
with the New York, Chicago & St. Louis were filed 
April 9, 1881 with the Indiana Secretary of State. 
The capital stock amounted to $35 million and William 
Fleming was one of the directors. 

Track laying to the west was begun at the Grand 
Rapids & Indiana Railroad near the Ortt residence 
now occupied by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Water 
rights of the canal and additional right-of-way were 
acquired for $50, 000 by the new railroad the following 
April 20. 

By the middle of June, 1881 fill-in operations 
along the canal became widespread and on July 26 the 
State Treasurer paid off $135,000 in canal bonds 
issued 25 years earlier. 

The transformation of the canal brought exciting 
days to Columbia Street. Construction trains began 
snorting to and fro where the canal had been and law- 
yers pressed condemnation suits against farmers for 
right-of-way needed in the New Haven area and west 
of Fort Wayne. The railroad was offering from $200 
to $250 an acre for the land while the owners requested 
as high as $850 for three-quarters of an acre. 

By September 20 much of the track had been laid 
between Fostoria, Ohio and Fort Wayne: track layers 
eventually followed the crews who filled in the canal 
at the rate of about a mile a day. It was a much 
easier task to obliterate the old waterway than to lay 
rail for the new system . 

The first train arrived in the city from Fostoria 
on November 3, 1881, and the most important pas- 
senger was D. R. Gibson, a right-of-way agent for 
the railroad, dispatched here to expedite the legal 
difficulties . 

But progress was not justified by all who shared 
in it. A referendum on the sum of $25, 000 to estab- 
lish the railroad shops in Adams Township failed on 
May 15, 1882 and the shops were awarded to Chicago. 
On May 19, 1882 officials of the railroad decided upon 
a depot location at Calhoun Street, and a contract for 
building the structure which served until 1967, was 



awarded on August 28, 1882. The cost was $12, 000. 

The preceding June 4 the railroad spent $25,000 
for 15 acres between the canal and what is now the 
Lake Erie and Western Railroad for a track yard, re- 
pair shop and roundhouse . 

So rapidly had the railroad line developed that 
most of the trackage between Buffalo, New York, and 
Chicago was complete when the building of the local 
depot was started. The cost was vaguely estimated 
at between $25 and $29 million. The first passenger 
train over the new road from Chicago arrived in Fort 
Wayne at 10:55 a.m., August 30, 1882 and 500 citizens 
gathered at the station to witness the inauguration of 
regular passenger service the following October 23. 
Three days later the Vanderbilt interests stepped into 
the financial limelight of the Nickel Plate Road . An 
old stone building on Superior Street, constructed in 
1852 to serve the canal, was eyed by the railroad as 
a dispatcher's office and a new slate roof was ordered 
for the structure . This building still remains owned 
by the City of Fort Wayne. Efforts are being made to 
preserve it as a landmark of early Fort Wayne trans- 
portation history . 

Residents of the Nebraska district rejoiced on 
February 6, 1893 when a Nickel Plate crew demolished 
the famous old canal aqueduct over the St. Mary's 
River. Residents had threatened to blow up the aban- 
doned structure, claiming that it dammed up water 
which filtered into their basements . 

When the VanSweringens assumed control of the 
Nickel Plate in 1916, John J. Bernet was named presi- 
dent. In six years he doubled the gross revenue of the 
line. In 1923 the Nickel Plate absorbed the Clover 
Leaf and the Lake Erie and Western railroads . 

Bernet accepted the presidency of the Erie Rail- 
road in 1926 but returned to the Nickel Plate in 1933. 
It was Bernet who developed the 2-8-4 Berkshire loco- 
motive which proved to be the most efficient steam 
power ever developed for fast freight service. 

Between 1951 and 1954 the railroad experimented 
with diesel -electric locomotives which were to replace 
steam power. The Nickel Plate elevation through Fort 



19 



Wayne followed in 1955 and 1956 




June 1963 - Nickel Plate R.R. Locomotive #767 
a Berkshire type engine used in the NKP R R'S high 
speed freight service. This particular locomotive now 
on display at Fourth and Clinton streets, broke the 
ribbon dedicating the elevation of Nickel Plate tracks 
in Fort Wayne in 1955. 

(photographer unknown). 



The last steam passenger run through Fort 
Wayne was made by a 14 -car special made up in the 
East Wayne yards with the LaSalle Street station in 
Chicago as its terminal . 

The Nickel Plate was acquired by the Norfolk & 
Western Railroad October 16, 1964, a line dating back 
to 1838 with general offices in Roanoke, Virginia. 



20 



AFFLUENT COLUMBIA STREET 
ELBOWED INTO LAKESIDE 

While enterprise and affluence paid court, 
Columbia Street wrested not only the business heart 
away from Main Street, but a bridge into the Lakeside 
residental area as well. 

This was a period before the turn of the century 
that Historian Roy M. Bates refers to as the "battle of 
the bridges." The present Three Rivers high-rise 
apartments mark the scene: the time was 1889. 

The first bridge was raised across the Maumee 
there in 1812 giving the fort complex entry to an 
orchard property which later became Lakeside. It 
was a crude timber structure which somehow found 
support in the riverbed. The county replaced this 
span in 1863 with another wood span which had stone 
abutments and a stone support in the center of the 
stream. 

Around this bridge a controversy, explosive 
legally and in other ways, began swirling on April 15, 
1889. As a result Columbia Street moved as far east- 
ward as it could --to the bank of the Maumee. 

After the military abandoned the second fort 
property in 1819, first business activity began to 
blossom on Columbia Street between Barr and Lafay- 
ette streets . Beyond Lafayette Street was a flood 
plain which with the arrival of the Wabash and Erie 
Canal was converted into the Comparet Basin, where 
canalboats could turn and there were special facilities 
for special cargo loadings and unloadings and also 
docks for repair of the boats themselves . 

The only bridge to serve Columbia Street during 
its history involved a huge earthen fill and causeway 
through the lowlands. This earth movement created 
the fourth block of East Columbia Street to connect 
with Clay Street. Six or eight business buildings fol- 
lowed, adjacent to the confluence of the rivers and the 
first of these was the Hanna-Breckenridge factory, a 
gaunt three -story frame structure on the north side of 
the street . 

The "battle of the bridges" actually began when 



21 



fire heavily damaged the Main Street bridge into Lake- 
side on December 21, 1888. Temporary repairs were 
completed in two weeks . On January 12 the county 
commissioners proposed construction of a new bridge 
across the Maumee River and made suggestions for 
its location. 

On April 15, 1889, city officials decided the 
new bridge should be built at Columbia Street, just 
east of Clay Street. They accordingly began to assess 
potential benefits and damages. 

The battle of the bridges was on. 

J. George Strodel and others filed a suit in Allen 
Circuit Court June 15, 1889 to mandate the county 
commissioners to condemn the old Main Street Bridge 
and erect a new one on this site. 

This brought on an injunction action in the name 
of Louis Brames which was venued to DeKalb Court 
and eventually heard by a jury beginning August 10, 
1889. The Columbia and Main Street factions were 
well represented. 

The jurors voted in favor of the Main Street 
Bridge, recommending that it be repaired . However 
Judge Stephen A . Powers found a technicality for a 
decision of his own. 

A month later, he ruled in favor of a new bridge, 
and on the same day County Attorney Samuel R . Alden 
filed an opinion on the matter along with engineering 
data. On the heels of this legal procedure, the county 
commissioners made their final decision and ordered 
the construction of a 300 -foot steel span across the 
Maumee at Columbia Street. It had a 24 -foot roadway 
and 5 -foot sidewalks on each side. 

The new bridge, which closely resembled the 
recently replaced Anthony Boulevard bridge, con- 
tained 350 tons of steel. The structure was completed 
on December 2, 1890 and the Fort Wayne Land and 
Improvement Company petitioned the county commis- 
sioners to remove the old Main Street span. 

The day before Christmas, 1890 an attempt was 
made to dynamite the old Main Street bridge; several 
attempts also had been made to destroy it by fire. 

Out of concern over these acts of vandalism, 



22 



the commissioners on March 18, 1891 ordered the 
bridge removed and on the following June 22 the north 
abutment of the old bridge was removed and the river 
deepened to lessen flood dangers. On January 26, 1893 




The New Steel Columbia Street 
Bridge of 1890 



the pier of the old bridge in the center of the river 
was removed to eliminate future ice jams in the 
stream. 

Thus, Columbia Street won the "battle of the 
bridges" but its days as the main business artery of 
the community were numbered . For seventy years 
Columbia Street had developed from the old flood plain 
westward. The final spurt of influence occurred dur- 
ing the bridge controversy which lengthened the street 
one block to the east . 

The scene of the "battle of the bridges" had been 
completely changed; the fourth block of East Columbia 



23 



Street is now occupied by the Three Rivers Apartments 
and Lafayette Street has been connected with Spy Run 
Avenue to the north, providing a heavily -traveled 
through street. Spy Run used to be Avenue of the 
Circuses coming to the city and the heavily -shod draft 
horses used to strike sparks from the old brick pav- 
ing. 

This was an unusual and turbulent phase of the 
development of the city, but Columbia Street is not 
known for the bridge it won. During the waning years 
it was commonly referred to as "the waterfront" - - 
why, most people didn't know . 



MILITARY TRAIL 
FORCED CITY OFF THE COMPASS 

Columbia Street not only primed the metropolitan 
development but forced the downtown business district 
out of kilter with the points of the compass as well. 

Most people have noticed the streets between 
Superior and Lewis streets run northeast and south- 
west: surveyors who laid out the city below Lewis 
corrected the angles to true north, south, east and 
west. 

This tilt was caused by a well-marked trail leav- 
ing the old forts at the headwaters of the Maumee 
River toward Fort Dearborn, (Chicago) which did not 
run true east and west. 

When John Barr and John McCorkle, the city's 
first real estate developers, platted the primitive 
downtown section, buildings that had made their ap- 
pearance along the trail from the fort presented a 
problem. It was far easier to use the trail as a base 
line than to try to negotiate moving the buildings. The 
intersecting streets were accordingly laid out at right 
angles . 

Strangely, Barr and McCorkle expected Main 
Street to become the main business thoroughfare, but 
the Wabash and Erie Canal favored the development of 



24 



Columbia Street instead. 

The northwest trail, which later became Colum- 
bia Street, angled across the site of the present Cen- 
tral Fire Station, then straightened into a northwest 
course. 

Seven buildings were constructed in the fourth 
block of East Columbia, ending at the river, during 
its comparatively short life . On the north side of the 
street were the Foster shirtwaist factory, a business 
that was to gain national prominence; The Banner 
Laundry; Brinkman Sign Company; the Furnas Ice 
Cream Company (later Borden); and earlier the Hanna- 
Breckenridge plant. 

Erected on the south side of that block were the 
A .H. Perfect & Company building and the Pettit Trans- 
fer & Storage Company. 




The 400 block of East Columbia Street 



25 



The shirtwaist mill, founded by Samuel M. 
Foster, a New Yorker, was established on a new site 
adjacent to the Nickel Plate Railroad in September, 
1888 and employed about 300 women and girls. A year 
after the plant was moved to Columbia Street it was 
closed by a strike which lasted only a few days . The 
business flourished and following a reorganization on 
August 4, 1905 became known as the Samuel M. Foster 
Company. Many of the older employees acquired an 
interest in the firm which became one of the leading 
mills of its kind in the country. 

Foster also founded the German-American Bank 
which later became the Lincoln National Bank & Trust 
Company, and he was the first president of the Lincoln 
National Life Insurance Company. At one time he as 
president of the Wayne Knitting Mills and a brother, 
Col. David N. Foster became fathers of the present 
Fort Wayne park system through the donation of land 
for Foster Park. 

After the Foster mill closed, the building was 
used as a warehouse for years by the Wolf & Dessauer 
Department Store. It was torn down in 1964. 

Neighboring to the east stood the Brinkman Sign 
Company. This corporation moved to Industrial Park 
when downtown redevelopment began. The last build- 
ing on the north side of the street was the home of the 
Furnas Ice Cream Company, which in recent years 
became a part of the Borden complex. This firm has 
moved to a location on Wells Street. 

Development of the south side of the 400 block 
east came in two packages in 1909. On June 24 Fisher 
Brothers Paper Company entered contract with General 
Construction Company tobuild a three -story reinforced 
concrete storage building on the southwest corner of 
Clay and Columbia. It cost $27, 000 and was leased to 
A. H. Perfect & Company, a wholesale grocery firm 
organized in 1896 by Arthur H. Perfect, Harry A. 
Perfect, T. Guy Perfect and Henry H. Eavey. The 
Perfect firm finally moved to a new location on the 
Nelson Road and the structure was leased as a ware- 
house by the former Grand Leader Company. 

William L. Pettit Jr., a native of Fort Wayne 



26 



and graduate of Lehigh University, established the 
Pettit Transfer & Storage Company after serving as a 
surveyor for the Pennsylvania Railroad and subsequently 
operating his own blueprint business in Minneapolis. 
A contract for erecting a six-story reinforced con- 
crete warehouse building at 414 East Columbia was 
awarded the Indiana Construction Company on May 1, 
1909. 

This was the second reinforced concrete struc- 
ture to make its appearance in the city: the first was 
the Shoaff Building, now the Gettle Building. 

In 1970 the Pettit firm observed its 60th anniver- 
sary. Joseph Pettit, son of the founder, now manages 
the business and the firm's volume recently required 
the erection of a building in Industrial Park with 
20, 000 square feet of floor space. 

Early in 1962 the Three Rivers Redevelopment 
Project acquired a 7 1/2 acre triangular area that in- 
volved the 400 block east, the same block of east 
Superior Street and extending southward to near Main 
Street. This represented an investment of nearly half 
a million dollars, and some of the property was ac- 
quired from M. H. Foster estate through the Lincoln 
National Bank & Trust Company as trustee. On this 
triangular site was erected the 14 -story high-rise 
apartment complex. 

The Borden building disappeared from the scene 
in 1963 and the Foster structure followed in 1964. The 
former Perfect Building was razed that year and early 
in 1965 the township trustee's headquarters and the 
Brinkman building were eliminated . 

Work was started on the high-rise apartment 
buildings in 1965 and they were ready for occupancy 
in 1967. Various redevelopment projects eliminated 
all of once powerful Columbia Street except the lone 
block between Calhoun and Harrison streets which has 
been redeveloped as The Landing- -reminiscent of the 
old canal docking area. 



27 



A MAGNETISM BROUGHT THE RAILROAD 

Together, the Wabash and Erie Canal and 
Columbia Street set up a commercial magnetism that 
attracted a railroad line from Pittsburgh. 

The railroad soon outmoded the canal and finally 
the seemingly insignificant relocation of a railroad 
terminal broke the spell that had made Columbia Street 
the city's main artery of business. 

That is how the business district moved south- 
ward . 

Although the canal brought development to Fort 
Wayne, it took less than a decade to prove that the 
waterway would never be a financial success; it was 
always losing money though traffic was deceivingly 
heavy. 

Jesse L. Williams, a brilliant man and chief 
engineer of the canal construction, had visions of a 
;railroad line connecting Pittsburgh and Chicago. Be- 
fore he could apply himself to the venture, three sep- 
arate railroads became involved in the projection of 
rails through Fort Wayne from Pittsburgh to Chicago: 
the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad which ended at 
Crestline, Ohio; the Ohio and Indiana Railroad from 
Crestline to Fort Wayne; and the Fort Wayne and 
Chicago Railroad . 

Oddly enough, the financial panic of 1857 forced 
a merger of these railroads into the Pittsburgh, Fort 
Wayne and Chicago Railroad which eventually became 
a leasor in the Pennsylvania Railroad, currently the 
Penn-Central. 

The early railroads, and even the toll roads, 
set their courses for terminals on Columbia Street. 
The Ohio and Indiana and Fort Wayne and Chicago rail- 
roads formed almost a direct line through the city. 
However, the tracks were laid up Lafayette Street to 
a terminal on Columbia Street between Barr and 
Lafayette streets; the first rail complex consisted of 
a station, freight house and engine shed. 

A contract for laying the Ohio and Indiana Rail- 
road from Fort Wayne to Crestline was awarded July 4, 
1850, (the company was organized at Bucyrus, Ohio) 



28 



and the first locomotive came to the city on a canal 
flatboat. It was used for construction work on the 
Fort Wayne section of the railroad and then was 
pressed into passenger service. 

Ground for the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad 
was broken July 4, 1849 and the organization of the 
Ohio and Indiana came one year later . 

Organization of the Fort Wayne and Chicago 
Railroad was effected at Warsaw in 1852 and four years 
elapsed before the tracks connected Fort Wayne and 
Columbia City. The panic of 1857 found the railroads 
in dire financial shape, particularly the Fort Wayne 
and Chicago line . 

This was a crisis for the genius of canal engineer 
Williams who drummed up financial aid from the 
counties crossed by the railroad and the line finally 
was completed to Chicago, connecting the 450 miles of 
rails between Pittsburgh and Chicago. 

The first excursion train rolled into Fort Wayne 
over the Ohio and Indiana on November 15, 1854 and 
the passengers trudged through the mud of Columbia 
Street to Colerick Hall for a celebration. The way 
was lighted only by the glow from store windows . 

A newspaperman, Robert D. Dumm, commented: 
"Upon our arrival at Colerick Hall we were bade wel- 
come and when our eyes fell upon the most sumptuous 
of viands, we forgot the difficulties encountered in our 
tramp from the depot and could but admit the open- 
hearted hospitality of our reception." 

The prestige of Columbia Street was undermined 
February 9, 1857 when it was decided to discontinue 
rail shuttle service up Lafayette Street, and the ter- 
minal, freight house and engine house were removed. 
The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad erected 
a brick terminal on its main line between Calhoun and 
Clinton streets (Kanne & Company got the contract) 
and station house served until 1914 when the present 
passenger station was erected at Baker and Harrison 
streets . 

A building destined to shelter humanity for a 
period of 110 years made its appearance on the north- 
west corner of Lafayette and Columbia streets the 



29 



year after the railroad ended its shuttle. It was known 
far and wide as the City Rescue Mission from 1915 
until its demolition in 1968. 




Fort Wayne Rescue Home and Mission 
343 East Columbia Street 



The landmark served as a hotel from 1858 until 
its acquisition by the Mission; first known as the City 
House under the management of Fred Volkert until its 
purchase by George Phillips in 1859 who added a sec- 
ond floor and gave it his name --Phillips House. He 
operated the hostelry only a short time . Subsequent 



30 



proprietors Benjamin C. Pierce, (March 6, 1868); 
Peter S. Cresenberry (November 8, 1876) and a Mr. 
France who acquired the property August 24, 1880. 

The hotel was known as the Phillips House until 
about 1888 when the name was changed to Oliver 
House. It was deteriorated into an establishment of 
ill repute and the management boldly gave the brick 
structure a coat of crimson paint in February, 1890. 

To improve conditions there, Oliver House was 
transferred by lease to the Land & Improvement Com- 
pany and on September 11, 1892 Mrs. Tom Clark be- 
came proprietress and the hotel was renamed Arling- 
ton House . 

Phillips left the hotel business to operate a stage 
line between Fort Wayne and Maysville, a service he 
continued until his death November 12, 1896. 

The Fort Wayne Rescue Home and Mission was 
organized in 1903 and began its service at 118 East 
Columbia Street. Rev. Kenneth A. Hawkins served 
as superintendent of the mission for more than thirty 
years and was succeeded by Rev. Charles Dickinson. 

In March, 1963 the millionth patron of the Mis- 
sion was registered for food and lodging. 

The venerable building began to show signs of 
serious deterioration in 1959 and usage was limited to 
the first two floors. 

In 1968 the landmark disappeared from Columbia 
Street and the Mission was moved to a modern struc- 
ture at 301 West Superior. 



CANAL BASINS DREW INDUSTRY 

Two great basins of the Wabash and Erie Canal 
brought industry to Columbia Street and contributed 
heavily to the commerce that made it the city's main 
thoroughfare for many years . 

Best known, perhaps, was the Comparet Basin 
at Lafayette and Columbia serving a milling complex 
that became one of the country's largest. 



31 



At the other end of Columbia Street, near Har- 
rison, was the Orbison Basin, a part of the heritage 
that is preserved by The Landing- -a single block that 
has been tastefully blended into urban redevelopment. 

Both basins were turnabouts for the canalboats 
and around the perimeters appeared boat yards and 
other industry. 

The Norfolk & Western Railroad cuts directly 
across the site of the Comparet Basin, named for the 
three elevators that could process 8,000 bushels of 
grain daily and a cornsheller -warehouse that could 
deliver 2, 500 bushels of grain per day. 

These mills, operated for many years by Joseph 
and David Comparet, were established before the Civil 
War and the brothers operated a fleet of grain boats 
between Fort Wayne and Toledo including the steamer 
"King Brothers" which made its trial run on May 18, 
1863. The mills ceased operation about 1876. 

The Comparet interests were served by a spur 
of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad and when the Columbia 
Street terminal was moved southward to the main line 
between Calhoun and Clinton streets, the Comparets 
enlarged their stables to accommodate 100 horses for 
transporting their grain to the railroad. 

In later years the milling firm was reorganized 
as Comparet, Hubbell & Company. 

On May 31, 1861 a fire destroyed the Comparet 
flour mill at an estimated loss of $10,000. The mill, 
in which new steam power had been installed, was 
rebuilt. 

The entire complex, finally owned by Mr. and 
Mrs. LucienP. Stapleford, was reduced to ashes by 
another fire on December 16, 1876. Destroyed were 
the old warehouse which had been converted into a 
stable; a two -story frame structure; the five -story 
brick mill and a three -story frame structure known 
as "Comparet House" --operated by Mr. and Mrs. 
Lewis Clark as a hotel for farmers patronizing the 
mill. 

Before the fire, the stable building had been 
purchased by E . H. Tompkins of New York City, Two 
canalboats, "The Nile" and the "David Davis, " were 



32 



lost in the blaze. The total loss, most of it borne by 
the Staplefords, was estimated at $37,000. According 
to record, the frame buildings on the property were 
erected prior to 1840. 

Little is known of the use of the mill site for 
several years after the fire . For some time a horse 
barn was operated on the premises by an unidentified 
businessman. 




The Wunderlin Building at the southeast corner 
of Columbia and Lafayette streets. In the rear is the 
Pettit Storage Warehouse building. This was the site 
of the Comparet Mills adjacent to the site of the Com- 
paret Canal Turning Basin. Photo by Sid Pepe. 

Early in the 1890s William Wunderlin ended his 
service with Weil Brothers Company and in 1893 built 
a two -story brick building on the southeast corner of 
Lafayette and Columbia where he entered the salvage 
business for himself. In 1916 he was joined in the 
business by two sons, Arthur and Elmer, and the firm 
name was changed to William Wunderlin & Sons in 
1921. William Wunderlin died April 23, 1934 at the 
age of seventy and his sons continued operation of the 
business . 



33 



Elmer Wunderlin died in 1962 and the surviving 
brother continued to operate the firm until 1967 when 
the building was razed in the redevelopment of the 
downtown area. The business had flourished, a third 
floor was added to the original building in 1923 and 
there were further expansions after the elevation of 
the Nickel Plate Road in 1955-56. The firm leased an 
area for a scrap yard on the south side of the 300 block 
East Columbia Street. The Wunderlins dealt in hides, 
wool, scrap iron, rags and other waste material. 

What was to become another landmark of the 
Comparet area was founded on the southwest corner of 
Lafayette and Columbia about 1895 by Henry F . Buller- 
man. A native of St. Joseph Township he became in- 
volved at twenty in a California gold mining operation. 




The "old stone yard" of Haag and Bates Company at 
the southwest corner of Columbia and Lafayette streets 
about 1905. H. L. Bates on the left and Charles E. 
Haag on the right. 

Later BuUerman established a stone monument 
business here and the property for years was known 
as "the old stone yard." Structurally, it was distin- 



34 



guished by an open -sided display area topped by a 
cupola. Bullerman, the father of six children, formerly 
resided at 1005 Rivermet Avenue. He served as county 
commissioner here and for twenty-five years was a 
township justice of the peace. He also was a secretary- 
treasurer of the Central Foundry Company and was 
associated with the Fort Wayne Tile Company. He 
died in February, 1936 at the age of eighty-six. 

Bullerman sold the stone business in 1901 to 
Henry L. Bates, a native of southern Indiana who 
learned his craft in the stone quarries of Westport 
before moving here in 1892. The firm's name was 
changed to H. L. Bates & Company and a year later he 
entered a partnership with Charles E . Haag, a stone 
mason from Stuttgart, Germany and the business as- 
sumed the name of Haag and Bates. Haag was a city 
councilman from 1896 to 1900, and after his death in 
1906, Bates entered a partnership with Herman Daler. 
The firm continued as Bates & Daler Company until 
December of 1916 when Daler withdrew to establish a 
motorcycle business . 

Immediately, Harold W . Carr became associated 
with Bates in the business and the firm changed its 
name to the Bates & Carr Monument Company. During 
their partnership, the use of pneumatic tools was 
adopted for stone carving and later sand blasting was 
introduced. Bates and Carr moved the business to 
708 West Washington Boulevard in 1920. 

Bates was the father of Roy M. Bates, Fort 
Wayne and Allen County historian, and during his 
twenty-seven years in business here, the principal 
products were granite and marble monuments, head- 
stones and interior marble work for building. Vermont 
and Georgia quarries were the principal sources of 
marble and the firm processed granite from Vermont, 
Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina and Oklahoma, 
In later years some granite was imported from Scot- 
land . 

Following the death of elderly Bates in 1928, 
Carr moved the monument business to Hicksville, 
Ohio and after moving to Defiance was elected to the 
Ohio State House of Representatives. 



35 



The stone yard at Lafayette and Columbia streets 
was followed by a one -story brick building owned by 
William Prange and until 1936 several businesses oc- 
cupied the structure, including a truck service and a 
Willys auto dealership. 

In 1924 Roy Westrick founded the Fort Wayne 
Spring Service at 605 Lafayette dealing in auto springs 
and chassis parts. The firm remained there until 1959 
when it was moved to the present site at 614 East 
Washington. The Lafayette Street structure then was 
used by the Paramount Paper Company. This building, 
too, came under the sledge of the redevelopment pro- 
gram and disappeared from the scene in 1967. 



ONE BLOCK HELPED LIGHT UP 
THE COUNTRY 

Now part of the Fort Wayne Fine Arts complex, 
the 300 block east of historic Columbia Street did not 
share in the business and industrial hubbub of this 
one-time principal thoroughfare until the late 1880s. 
A muddy lane for many years and a part of the com- 
mon road to the old fort, it lay between Barr and 
Lafayette streets . 

The earliest recorded activity there was a large 
log tavern erected on the northeast corner of Barr and 
Columbia by William Suttenfield in 1823 and within its 
walls a part of the city's future was planned. Years 
later the block provided frontage for the Jenny Electric 
Light & Power Company, a forerunner of General Elec- 
tric and a pioneer in municipal street lighting from old 
New Orleans to Oakland, California. 

Without paving, drainage, curbings or lighting, 
the first improvement came to the 300 block east in 
1879 when its rutted dirt surface was graded. 

Suttenfield was a dynamic man who served as 
trustee of the community when it reached the status of 
a town. An extensive traveler in the area, he had 
joined Major John Whistler's forces in Newport, 



36 



Kentucky before they came to Fort Wayne. He carried 
the mail between Fort Wayne and Chicago, making 
one trip on foot in 1814. 

Suttenfield likewise was one of the organizers of 
the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Wayne. His 
home was convenient to the tavern- -on the southwest 
corner of Barr and Columbia . 

The Deneal boat yard flourished on theComparet 
Basin at the east end of the block after the completion 
of the Wabash and Erie Canal and one of the many as- 
sociated with it was Captain John W . Whittaker who 
went to the Pacific Coast where he became governor of 
the State of Oregon. The Deneal yard suspended op- 
erations in the 1840s. 

The boat yard was followed on the entire north 
side of the block by the canal-side terminal facilities 
of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad which shuttled up and 
down Lafayette Street from the present right-of-way 
of the Penn-Central . The tracks, passenger depot, 
freight and engine houses filled the entire north side 
of the street until 1857 when the terminal was re- 
established on the main line between Clinton and Cal- 
houn streets. 

Long after the Suttenfield Tavern left the scene, 
the corner was occupied by the M. P. Beegan Grocery. 
In the early 1890s the Globe Flour and Spice Mills 
began operations on the corner and on January 26, 
1895 Henry C. Berghoff disposed of his interests in 
the Berghoff Brewery to give full time to the mill. 

The Wiegman Brothers became operators of the 
mill on February 12, 1906 and an addition was made 
to the building, expanding production to 100 barrels of 
flour a day. 

Two years later, June 10, 1907, the property 
was leased by the newly organized Globe Printing and 
Binding Company and that business continued at this 
location for twenty years . 

Final occupant of the Suttenfield Tavern site was 
the Fort Wayne Waste Paper Company. A fire destroyed 
the corner building in 1957 and the firm moved its 
operation to Dwenger Avenue . 

Other enterprises came to the 300 block East 



37 




The northeast corner of Barr and Columbia streets, 
site of the Suttenfield Tavern erected in 1823. The 
site was later occupied by the Globe Mills and the 
building at the right was the recent home of the Con- 
sumers Pipe and Supply Company. Photo by Sid Pepe . 



Columbia Street and either died out or changed loca- 
tions . Consumers Pipe and Supply organized by Patrick 
E. Rooks and a son Daniel J. occupied the building at 
305 East Columbia until April, 1969 when the business 
was moved to 1217 Broadway. The Columbia Street 
building was subsequently demolished . 

Jacob Weil, a native of Switzerland and his heirs 
were familiar figures on the street for many years. 
The elder Weil opened a hide and wool business in a 
building owned by Perry A. Randall on the north side 
of the block, number 85-87. 

On July 31, 1887 a roaring fire raced through 
the building and gutted it; the flames also destroyed 
the George P.Barnum livery stable at 91 East Columbia 
but the Pennington Machine Works on the other side of 



38 



Weil Brothers somehow was saved . 

Three days later the Weils temporarily resumed 
business on the south side of the street in a building 
at 78 East Columbia. 

The fire aroused a tempest in Landlord Randall 
and he subsequently became involved in a $10, 000 
slander suit filed by Abraham Weil, a son of the firm's 
founder. Then on March 29, 1893 the Weils purchased 
the fire site from Randall for $8,000. This became 
the location of the Paragon Manufacturing Company, 
makers of shirtwaists, a firm operated by Weil's 
sons, Abraham and Isaac. The shirtwaists became 
highly popular through the Midwest . 

Another fire damaged the Weil Brothers building 
on the south side of the street on September 28, 1895, 
but the firm operated in that location for more than 
forty years . The building was demolished in 1963 . 

The Paragon Company, managed by Charles 
MacDougal, operated without incident for eleven years 
when a fire on February 5, 1905 so heavily damaged 
the building that the firm moved to 825-27 South Barr 
Street. 

Jenny leased another Randall building at 89 East 
Columbia Street on November 5, 1893 and by February 
of the following year the city signed a contract with 
the firm for street lighting. On March 18, 1884 the 
Jenny Company received orders for six lighting towers 
in Danville, Illinois and four in Goshen. 

On April 2, 1884, Jenny contracted with the city 
for erecting light towers in the schoolyards onHarmar, 
Butler, South Hanna and Wells streets in the Nebraska 
section, Archer's Addition, at Taylor and Broadway, 
and the southeast at the Bass Foundry & Machine 
Works. On May 22 of that year they crowned the court 
house dome with electric lights . 

Subsequent orders were received for lighting 
the streets of Oakland, California, New Orleans, 
Louisville and Peoria, Illinois. 

The Star Iron Tower Company of Fort Wayne 
furnished the fourteen 12 5 -foot structures for lighting 
the city of New Orleans . 

On February 27, 1885 Charles Jenny petitioned 



39 



the circuit court to release him from a contract made 
by his father which bound all their inventions to the 
service of the Jenny firm and this led to his organiza- 
tion on April 3, 1895 of the Jenny Electric Light Com- 
pany, Inc. with capital stock of $50,000. This firm 
later negotiated for the purchase of the Gaus Works 
on Broadway which subsequently became General Elec- 
tric. In 1883 James A. Jenny organized the original 
company which occupied sites at the southwest corner 
of Calhoun and Superior streets and on West Superior 
at the foot of Wells Street. R. T. McDonald was 
among the original sponsors of the electric company. 

The Metropolitan Livery Stables, 91-97 East 
Columbia were leveled by the Weil fire of 1887 but the 
business survived. In operation for many years, Dr. 
Barnum added a hack service in 1889 comparable to 
the modern taxicabs. The firm suspended business 
in the early 1900s. 

In 1906 International Harvester erected a four- 
story building in the 300 block of East Columbia as a 
retail outlet for farm machinery, service and other 
agricultural needs. Earlier, this location had been 
the site of stone and salvage yards. For a number 
of years after International Harvester closed the 
subsidiary was used as a warehouse by the Sigrist 
Furniture Company. The structure was demolished 
in 1968. 

Late to come into its own, the 300 block of pass- 
ing Columbia Street had a part in mapping the future 
of the city and contributed to the lighting of cities 
from the Mississippi Delta to the Golden Gate. 



HEDEKIN HOUSE SERVED 124 YEARS 

Hedekin House, which tumbled to the swing of 
the wrecker's ball in April, 1969 was a part of the 
Columbia Street growth pattern though it stood 124 
years in the comparative hush of nearby Barr Street. 

For twenty -five years it was but a block distant 



40 



from the Wabash and Erie Canal --conveniently aloof 
from the constant movement along the waterfront. It 
is best remembered as the Home Hotel, the dean of 
Fort Wayne hostelries . 




The Hedekin House (later the Home Hotel) erected 
1843-44. Demolished 1968. Photo by Sid Pepe-- 1960. 



For several years before it left the downtown 
scene, there was hope that somehow it might fit into 
the development of the Fine Arts Center. 

The three -story structure, whose second -floor 
balcony hosted many prominent leaders in earlier 
years, was carefully restored by the late Roscoe 
Hursh; his wife, Pauline, continued its management 
after her husband's death in 1962. 

For many years it had been home to pensioners 
and other permanent residents and so its label through 
a great part of the 20th Century was fitting. In what 



41 



had once been the basement kitchen, there remained 
a spit large enough to accommodate a side of beef. 

Michael Hedekin, the builder of the hotel in 1844, 
came to Fort Wayne from County Westmeath, Ireland 
early in 1843 and by June of that year had opened a 
general store on the southeast corner of Barr and 
Columbia streets. The business venture prospered 
and nine years later he began planning the hotel build- 
ing that was to bear his name. 




The southeast corner of Barr and Columbia 
streets site of the Hedekin general store from 1834 to 
about 1870. To the rear is the Hedekin House (later 
the Home Hotel). 

Photographed by Sid Pepe--1960. 



Perhaps the most unusual guest of its 124 -year 
history was Samuel F. Curtis, who in 1856 registered 
not only himself but 25 wooden boxes, each containing 
1,000 silver dollars. Curtis came to establish the 
Bank of Fort Wayne, and the capital was stored in 
Hedekin House until accommodations were made ready 



42 



for the bank on the east side of Calhoun Street, near 
Columbia. 

Curtis later volunteered his services to the 
Union cause when the Civil War began, and he rose to 
the rank of major general, serving in Arkansas, Mis- 
souri and in the Indian Territory , 

Hedekin House was opened with a military ball at 
which appeared the "Silver Grays," a crack Detroit 
military unit. The hotel was leased on June 16, 1846 
by Calvin Anderson of Manchester, Vermont whose 
dedication to temperance kept the flow of liquor away 
from its walls . 

The Andersons had six children; Lydia, Calvin, 
Sara, Mary, Eli and Theresa. Eli G. Anderson for 
many years operated the Anderson Tea & Coffee Com- 
pany at one time located at the corner of Broadway and 
Jefferson streets; he was a deacon in the First Baptist 
Church and active in the work of the historic congre- 
gation. 

Hedekin House had thirty-four guest rooms, each 
equipped with fire escapes of knotted rope. The iron 
fittings for these rope ladders were still imbedded in 
the walls when the old building was razed . 

Probably by design, the first floor of Hedekin 
House was proportioned for business purposes- -a 
wide and age -resistant staircase led to the second - 
floor lobby. There were two large rooms, second- 
floor front, and one of these the Hurshes converted 
into a modem, tasteful office . 

The declining years of former Hedekin House 
were its most gracious ones. Lloyd Hursh, former 
businessman of the Leo-Grabill area, became the first 
owner of the building outside the Hedekin estate in 
1921. The establishment had deteriorated into some- 
thing of a flop house, but its strong fittings stood up 
remarkably under years of abuse. 

When Roscoe Hursh, a son, became involved 
with the historic structure in 1953, its possibilities 
appealed to his varied mechanical skills. A sales 
representative for National Mill & Supply Company for 
many years, he set his imagination to work towards 
restoration. 



43 



One of the difficulties he overcame was refur- 
bishing the distinctly period wrought iron railings of 
the recessed balconies on the second and third floors. 

At the time of his unexpected death, Hursh was 
excited about the restoration of the fireplaces which 
had been closed and concealed down through the years. 

He scrounged buildings on deteriorating Colum- 
bia Street as they were demolished to stock various 
items of vintage wood trim that might be needed for 
future maintenance of the building. 

Previous leasors and owners of old Hedekin 
House are vaguely recorded as J. Johnson, J.J. Knox, 
J. C. Gaylord, Ely Kerns, H. J. Mills, a Mr. Wolf, 
Avery Freeman, a Mr. Denison, Edward Purcell and 
Jacob Swaidner. In 1876 the management was assumed 
by Avery Freeman, Jr., former proprietor of the 
Exchange Hotel on West Main Street. 

Michael Hedekin had died in 1872; he was seventy- 
nine. He had been active in civic affairs and for three 
years before his death served on the city council. 
The Hedekin homestead on East Main Street later was 
occupied by Congressman James M. Robinson. 

Hedekin had three children by his first marriage, 
two daughters and a son. Thomas became a vice- 
president of the White National Bank; his widow, the 
former Cornelia O'Connor who died in August, 1933, 
at Santa Cruz, California, was the last of the Hedekin 
family. 

The 300 block of East Columbia Street, with 
which Hedekin House neighbored, was immediately 
east of the original plat of the city. A long-tenure 
business on the south side of this block was operated 
for more than forty years by the Weil Brothers . 

Through the years the block had a scattering of 
blacksmith shops, taverns, barbershops, scrap yards 
and rooming houses. Lots (342-344) at the extreme 
east end of the block were owned by the Ohio and 
Indiana and subsequently the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne 
and Chicago railroads from 1853 to 1914 when title 
was transferred to Henry Bullerman, a stone mason 
and from 1936 to 1959 occupied by the Fort Wayne 
Spring Service , 



44 



Several doors to the west was a blacksmith shop 
operated by Tom Clark, later acquired by John Jackson 
and his father early in the century. The Meyer Ruch- 
man Company and the American Sanitary Wipers Com- 
pany later chose this site, occuping three buildings, 
334-340. In August, 1940 a fire destroyed these prop- 
erties but the adjoining barbershop of Dale Inman 
was saved. 

West of the Weil Brothers yard was a smithy 
operated by Owen Farnan for many years . Another 
prominent business in this area of the block was the 
Mulhaupt Printing Company established at 306 East 
Columbia in 1923 by William Mulhaupt, Maurice Min- 
nick and Eldon Crawford. They engaged in general 
printing until 1948 when they moved to 340 East Berry. 

These were some of the many business neighbors 
old Hedekin House survived --just a stone's throw off 
Columbia Street. Just close enough to the action, 
Hedekin built his hotel . 

When decline came to Columbia Street, it was 
too close. 



CORNER STEEPED IN HISTORY 

What Historian Roy M. Bates identifies as the 
most historic site in the city of Fort Wayne is now 
the western end of the Fine Arts Center, formerly 
the southeast corner of Barr and Columbia streets. 

On this ground once stood Ewing's Tavern some- 
times called Ewing's Washington Hall, a log gathering 
place in which the destinies of both Fort Wayne and 
northeastern Indiana were charted by pioneer govern- 
ment. 

So well known did it become in a few years that 
"Washington Hall" was designated as the meeting 
place for the most significant legislative acts of north- 
ern Indiana --decisions that also effected the develop- 
ment of a much wider area. 



45 



Some of these events were shared by the Sutten- 
field Tavern on the northeast corner of Barr and Co- 
lumbia, a log shelter erected shortly after Washington 
Hall in 1823. It originally catered more to entertain- 
ment. 

That was the year of the organization of the first 
fraternal society in Indiana north of Indianapolis. 
With special dispensation, meetings were held in 
Washington Hall which led to the chartering of Wayne 
Lodge No. 25, Free and Accepted Masons. The 
charter was granted on November 10 and the first 
official meeting of the lodge was held in the office of 
Indian Agent John Tipton within the palisade of the fort, 
a week later. 

The last building to stand on the site of Washing- 
ton Hall was a three -story brick structure finally 
occupied by the Pembleton Electronics, which recently 
moved to 513 East Wayne Street before the property 
was razed by order of the Redevelopment Commission. 

Alexander Ewing, who served with distinction 
under General William Henry Harrison, the first ter- 
ritorial governor of Indiana, lived to operate his widely 
respected tavern for only a few years . 

A native of New York State (born 1753) Ewing 
and his family moved to what is now Monroe, Michigan 
in 1802 after some financial reverses. Five years 
later the Ewings moved to Piqua, Ohio where Alexander 
built a log structure that served both as a tavern and 
trading post. Later the family moved to Troy, Ohio. 

As a resident of Ohio, Ewing became involved 
with the Miami County Militia in which he reached the 
rank of colonel. This unit joined General Harrison in 
his expedition to relieve the siege of Fort Wayne dur- 
ing the War of 1812. This was Ewing's first visit to 
Fort Wayne. 

Later Ewing became a volunteer spy in Harri- 
son's service and took part in the Battle of the Thames 
in Ontario where the great Shawnee war chief Tecumseh 
was defeated and killed . 

In 1822 Colonel Ewing moved his family to Fort 
Wayne and the following year Washington Hall became 
a focal point of northern Indiana history. 



46 




Southeast corner of Barr and Columbia streets 

William Suttenfield, the rival tavern proprietor, 
lived within the fort for some years and in 1814 erected 
the first residence outside the palisade. This occurred 
before any streets existed. After the original plat of 
the city was prepared, the Suttenfield house was found 
to rest in the center of Barr Street, near Columbia. 

Subsequently it was moved to the southwest 
corner and made a part of Ewing's Washington Hall. 

Five years after coming to Fort Wayne Colonel 
Ewing died of a respiratory ailment; he was a six- 
footer weighing 200 pounds. After his tenure, opera- 
tors of Washington Hall included Robert Hood, Abner 



47 



Gerard, Samuel Sowers and a Mr. Timmons. 

Immediately after the fort was abandoned as a 
military post in early spring, 1819 Captain James Riley 
surveyed a military tract of forty acres around the 
bastion for use of the local Indian agent. 

With the exception of the forty acres. Congress 
drew up an act May 8, 1822 authorizing the sale of all 
government owned land in the area. The act was 
signed by President James Monroe and the land sale 
opened October 22, 1823 at the land office in the fort. 
Joseph Holman was the first receiver of the land office. 

It was at this time that John T. Barr and John 
McCorkle pooled their resources and bought the gov- 
ernment tract for $1.25 an acre and immediately 
platted the land for business and residential use . These 
110 lots, now a part of the central business district, 
became the Original Plat of the City of Fort 
Wayne. Much of the Barr and McCorkle holdings were 
sold at Washington Hall. 

These original Fort Wayne real estate men in- 
fluenced the selection of Fort Wayne as the county seat 
of Allen County on March 26, 1823 by offering a liberal 
area for the erection of a court house and jail. 

The four commissioners who made this selection 
were directed to meet at Washington Hall; Lot Bloom - 
field of Wayne County, Abiathar Hathaway of Fayette 
County, William Connor of Hamilton County and James 
M. Ray of Marion County. They made the trip by 
horse, and quickly concluded their business by select- 
ing Fort Wayne as the county seat of Allen County. 

Allen County boundaries, as approved by the 
Legislature December 17, 1823 to become effective 
the following April 1, embraced what is now Wells, 
Adams, DeKalb and Steuben counties and portions of 
Noble, LaGrange, Huntington and Whitley counties. 
Governor William Hendricks appointed Allen Hamilton 
the first sheriff. His first official act was to supervise 
the first county election which took place May 22, 1824 
in Washington Hall. 

Four days after the election, the county com- 
missioners began a six-day session at Washington 
Hall and their first action was to name Joseph Holman 



48 



as county treasurer. The new treasurer was required 
to post a bond of $1, 000. 

Subsequent meetings of the commissioners were 
held for the most part at Washington Hall--sometimes 
it was expedient to meet in Suttenfield's Tavern across 
the street. 

On May 31, 1824 the commissioners met at 
Washington Hall and strangely defined Wayne Township 
as embracing the whole of present Allen County, which 
at that time constituted all of northeastern Indiana. 
So it remained until January, 1826. 

The first session of the Allen County Court like- 
wise was held in Washington Hall August 9, 1824; the 
court continued to hold most of its sessions at the hall 
until the first court house was built. 

There is no complete record of activity on the 
southwest corner after Washington Hall was destroyed 
by fire in 1858. John Laurent & Son operated a liquor 
business on the corner and about 1873 a three-story 
brick building was erected there, and it bore the num- 
bers 234-236 East Columbia Street. Several brick 
soaking tanks found in the basement of the structure 
indicated that a saddlery was once operated there. 

Shortly after the turn of the century, Joseph 
Langard operated a saloon on the first floor, and the 
second and third floors were used as a boardinghouse. 
Later Louis Langard, one-time member of the city 
council, operated a combined grocery and saloon on 
the first floor of the premises. 

The final tenant, Pembleton Electronics, was 
organized in 1932 by Frederick W . Pembleton at 919 
Parkview Avenue; the firm later moved to a building 
on the northeast corner of Broadway and Washington 
Boulevard which later became the site of Mrs .Cooper's 
restaurant. In 1945 Pembleton moved to 236 East 
Columbia Street and remained until 1969. 

A son, James W. Pembleton, was associated in 
the business with his father for a number of years. 
Once a horse -watering trough stood on the Barr Street 
side of this building, and for the safety of pedestrians, 
the Pembleton's removed a number of hitching rings 
secured to the sidewalk. 



49 



Before Pembleton Laboratories, the structure 
was occupied for a time by the Peter J.Refakis Pioneer 
Barber Supply Company, a firm that remained on 
Columbia Street a total of forty-four years , In 1966 
it was moved to 234 West Main Street to provide clear- 
ance for development. 

Refakis came to Fort Wayne from Chicago in 
1921 and became associated immediately with the 
Columbia Candy Kitchen. Later he went to the Levy 
Brothers store on Barr Street and subsequently was 
employed by Patterson-Fletchers. In 1925 he pur- 
chased the barber supply business that had been estab- 
lished at Brackenridge and Calhoun streets by Charles 
Obseer and subsequently operated by Martin L. Lose. 



SAMUEL HANNA, FATHER OF FORT WAYNE, 
WOULD HAVE LOVED SPACE AGE 

Samuel Hanna, sometimes aptly referred to as 
the "father of Fort Wayne," would have reveled in the 
space age. 

It was his extreme impatience with pioneer 
transportation that influenced the building of plank 
roads, the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal 
and finally the projection of the railroads . 

Hanna, a versatile man of great discipline, used 
this philosophy of speed progress around himself. 
Ironically, his first business venture as a teen-ager 
was a failure. His partner disclaimed his obligations 
under the old infancy statute but Hanna worked years 
to settle his debts with interest. 

He died a wealthy man in 1866- -his funeral pro- 
cession extended from the court house to the ceme- 
tery, a distance of two miles . 

Until a few years ago the old Henderson-Reed 
Brothers Company building on the northwest corner of 
Barr and Columbia streets remained a monument to 
his civic enterprise. This was the site of the famous 
Barnett -Hanna trading post, a partnership that proved 



50 



highly successful 




The Hanna Building at the northwest comer of Barr 
and Columbia streets as it appeared in 1952 after the 
east one -third of the building was removed --Photo by 
Peter Certia. 



Hanna was born October 18, 1797 in Scott County, 
Kentucky and in 1804 the family settled on a new farm 
near Dayton, Ohio. As was the way of life, then, 
Hanna' s elementary education was neglected while he 
helped his father, James, clear and develop the farm 
property. 

At age 19, he was clerking in a store at Piqua, 
Ohio. He and another young man bought out the store, 
giving their $3, 000 personal notes as security. It was 
this business that ended in failure. 

For some time after this, he taught in a country 



51 



school and as an instructor his dedication to discipline 
and system became evident. His favorite maxim was 
"Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well." 

Formal negotiations with the Indians, leading to 
an expansion of the white man's enterprise, attracted 
Hanna to St. Mary's, Ohio in 1818. There he and his 
brother, Thomas, became engaged in provisioning 
men and horses at the busy treaty center, moving the 
merchandise in by oxen from Troy. 

This was a profitable venture and provided the 
nucleus of the colossal Hanna fortune that was to be 
accumulated. 

At St. Mary's Hanna became interested in the 
military establishment to the west known as Fort 
Wayne. In 1819 Hanna found the city he was to help 
shape little more than an Indian trading post, with a 
few white stragglers from the old military post. The 
forests that extended for hundreds of miles in every 
direction were inhabited entirely by Indians . 

Hanna was only twenty -two when he settled in 
this wilderness. 

A year earlier he had made the acquaintance of 
James Barnett, a Pennsylvanian (born 1785). Barnett, 
too, came to Fort Wayne and they formed a partner- 
ship to establish the trading post, a log structure built 
almost entirely by Hanna. 

The trading post became sort of a hub in the 
development of the village. At the time there were 
no streets, only trails, and the area had never been 
platted. The log trading post eventually was replaced 
by a story and half frame structure and as the years 
passed, this gave way to a substantial block of brick 
business houses . 

Barnett and Hanna developed a flourishing busi- 
ness with the Indians and subsequently the settlers 
who followed them. 

The supply lines of the post extended as far as 
Detroit, Boston and New York City. The supplies 
came all too slowly for Hanna in canoes, pirogues 
(those boats hollowed out from logs), flatboats on the 
St. Mary's River from Miami County, Ohio and horse- 
drawn wagons . 



52 



In 1820 Hanna became the community's first 
postmaster and as a result the trading post became 
Fort Wayne's first post office. 

Hanna and Barnett became brothers-in-law in 
1824; Barnett married Hanna's sister, Nancy, at Troy, 
Ohio, while Hanna married Eliza Taylor, daughter of 
Mr. and Mrs. Israel Taylor of Boston. The Hannas 
soon established a home on the northwest corner of 
Barr and Berry streets, opposite the former City Hall. 
Late in the 1830s the Hannas built the mansion at 
Lewis and Gay streets that remained a landmark until 
its demolition in 1962. For years it was known as 
Hanna Homestead . 

From the time he came to Fort Wayne, Hanna 
was deeply disturbed by the inconvenience and dis- 
comforts of transportation of the day. Grain raised 
in the area had to be processed in southern Michigan 
or Ohio and to correct this Hanna and Barnett built a 
grist mill on the west bank of the St. Mary's River 
directly south of the present Oakdale Bridge. 

The surveying mind of President George Wash- 
ington already had suggested the construction of a 
canal through the Fort Wayne area and this idea never 
left Hanna's mind. Discussions on the subject between 
Hanna and David Barnett led to Hanna's procurement 
of surveying instruments in the East so the engineer- 
ing could be started . 

Hanna subsequently became the chief promoter 
of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad which, when merged 
with other lines, became the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne 
and Chicago Railroad --now the Penn-Central. 

He became president of the Grand Rapids & In- 
diana Railroad and headed a company that constructed 
the Lima Plank Road, a route that now connects Fort 
Wayne and Howe, Indiana. He also served as road 
supervisor of Wayne Township, a natural position for 
one so intent on improving travel conditions in the 
Fort Wayne area. 

His other interests were varied; he served as a 
judge, state senator, treasurer of Allen County and 
was an organizer of the First Presbyterian Church. 

A fire destroyed the famous trading post in 1842 



53 



and on the site Hanna erected a three -story brick 
structure which served various business enterprises 
until 1955. Occupants of the site included J. W. Robb, 
commission merchant; O. W. Jefferds, notary; George 
Wood, land agent and the first mayor of the city; the 
Judson McComb grocery; Welsh Clothing and W. E. 
Harber & Company, produce and fruits. 




The Hanna Building as it appeared in 1938. W. E. 
Harber & Company occupied the corner room while 
the balance of the building was occupied by Henderson- 
Reed Brothers Company- -Photo by R. M. Bates. 



The final occupant, Henderson-Reed Brothers 
Company, used the structure during its last seventy - 
five years. The firm dates back to an 1850 merger of 
two outlets dealing in feed and harness. After one of 
the longest tenures on Columbia Street, the firm 
moved to 3626 Northrup Street. 

Judge Hanna fell ill on June 6, 1866, died on the 
eleventh and was buried on the thirteenth. The Masonic 
Order had charge of the services and all business of 
the city was suspended out of respect to the city's 
champion for so many years . 



54 



CITY'S FIRST FOOTLIGHTS DREW 
THEATER'S GREATS 

Fort Wayne's first footlights shone upon the 
great and near -great of the 19th Century stage 
during the thirty-year span of Colerick Hall. 

The three-story building stood at 215-17 East 
Columbia Street and was razed to clear the site for 
Freimann Park. 

Never really abandoned during the 118 years of 
its existence, the structure served as the city's first 
opera house and the first assembly hall. The street 
floor housed Fort Wayne's first public bathhouse. 

Colerick Hall, finally known as Grand Opera 
House, met a fiery end as a theater on July 5, 1881. 
It was rebuilt for business use and has served the 
various firms down through the years, largely as a 
warehouse. 




SKSB&«'gi&JSWniiw:*ao3a^*«^iR^ 



Colerick Hall or Grand Opera House building at 215-17 
East Columbia Street. Erected 1951-53. 

While on the circuit of the great road shows 
Colerick Hall hosted Edwin Booth, Joe Murphy, Laura 



55 



Keene, Novelist Francis Bret Harte, Horace Greeley, 
Thomas A. Hendricks, Oliver P. Morton, Andrew 
Johnson (later to become president of the United 
States), George Holland and finally William "Buffalo 
Bill" Cody, the last celebrity to appear on its stage 
before the fire . 

Edwin Booth, called the greatest tragedian of the 
last century, was a brother of the infamous John Wilkes 
Booth who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 
1865. Edwin, who went into seclusion after this real- 
life tragedy, appeared on the stage of Colerick Hall 
in "Hamlet" April 19, 1873. 

Greeley was the first distinguished lecturer to 
appear there --on February 8, 1860. 

The once nationally -known playhouse bore the 
name of Edward F . Colerick, its builder, who held 
the offices of county clerk, county recorder and county 
surveyor during the theater's heyday. Upper -floor 
gathering places were a pattern of the day, and Col- 
erick chose his site in the center of the block of Co- 
lumbia Street between Clinton and Barr streets . 

Before this, the court house and several other 
buildings provided rather austere space for public 
assemi)ly and entertainment. 

Colerick made known his plan to provide the 
city with a theater in 1851 and the day after Christ- 
mas, 1853 Colerick Hall was opened under the man- 
agement of C. C. Hill and S. Bond. Since the facili- 
ties were in the nature of a gift to the city, the first 
attraction, appropriately, was a local minstrel per- 
formance. 

Though architectured as a theater, the original 
accommodations of Colerick Hall brought some dis- 
content among audiences. Commented the Fort Wayne 
Times of July 27, 1865: "A lady must have a neck as 
long as a giraffe and as slender, too, if she expects 
to see anything on the stage from the back of the gal- 
lery. People won't pay their dimes to see nothing or 
break their necks or backs, too, in the effort!" 

There was a public gathering of historical signi- 
ficance there November 15, 1854 marking the arrival 
of the first excursion train over the new Ohio & Indiana 



56 



Railroad. Celebrities aboard the train spattered 
each other with mud as they trudged from the termi- 
nal to Colerick Hall, but their spirits were heightened 
by a feast that awaited them there. 

Colerick, himself installed the first public bath- 
house on the first floor on May 27, 1859; he charged 
twenty-five cents for a hot or cold bath or a shower. 

Coincidental with the opening of a paint and 
wallpaper store on the first floor of the structure 
March 24, 1864 by J.J. Kamm, Colerick Hall was 
unexplainably glorified for the fall opening; the roof 
was raised, galleries and boxes were installed and a 
parquet floor was laid. Also new was a semi- 
circular balcony. This finery was dedicated by the 
Colonel Woods Troupe from the Chicago Museum . 

Another renovation came February 8, 1869 under 
the new management of Albert Nirdlinger. The interior 
was further embellished, new seats were installed 
and new stage scenery and other props appeared. 

Two years later the playhouse began to feel the 
pinch of competition from the Ewing and Summit City 
halls and The Rink on East Berry Street. More 
improvements were made to the interior for the 
August 27, 1872 reopening with the Jennie Hight 
Troupe . 

These followed a three -year period of physical 
deterioration which moved the Fort Wayne Sentinel to 
comment on June 2, 1875: 

"The old shanty which rejoices in the high- 
sounding name of Colerick' s Opera House has at last 
fallen so low that there are none so poor as to do it 
reverence. Good troupes are passing Fort Wayne 
daily and refusing to stop over. The theater is in a 
bad state of deterioration." 

When the Bijou Theater opened across the street 
on the former site of Schlatter's Hardware, the opera 
house bowed out to competition on December 16, 1878. 
On October 8 of the following year James N. White, 
proprietor of the progressive White Fruit House, 
purchased the opera house at a sheriff's sale. 

The future of Colerick Hall was further compli- 
cated January 11, 1880 when a winter storm swept the 



57 



roof from the building; the theater now had been re- 
named Grand Opera House . 

Fruit Merchant White responded with improve- 
ments the next month intended to restore the theater's 
prestige . J . Bond and George Dickinson of Indianapolis 
were installed as managers. 

On May 10, 1880 the owner of Grand Opera House 
and his two daughters left the city for an extended visit 
to Scotland . 

The following July 5 Grand Opera House and the 
fur store of S. Oppenheimer were gutted by a $20,000 
fire. 

Thus ended the brilliant history of Colerick Hall 
as a place of entertainment; it had never made money 
despite the talent of the people who crossed its 
stage . 

Subsequent business tenants of the property 
have included W. T, Abbotts and the Boston Drygoods 
Company. National Mill occupied the premises for a 
number of years . 

A few of the Colerick Hall billings have survived 
the years to remind of great stage attractions of the 
past: 

February 8, 1860--Horace Greeley, lectured. 

March 1, 1860- -Madam Lola Montez, countess 
of Lansfelt, lecturer. 

March 8, 1860 --Professor Carver, Illinois Uni- 
versity, lecturer. 

May 22, 1860- -Peak Family Swiss Bell Ringers. 

May 27, 1860--Colonel Thomas A. Hendricks, 
candidate for governor. 

February 11, 1861 --Masquerade party and ball . 

September 23, 1861 --Volunteer Soldier's Benefit. 

October 22, 1861 --Holman's Comic Opera Troupe. 

April 3, 1863 Frankenstein Cyclorama of the 
American Revolution. 

May 19, 1863 --Goodwin and Wilders Polyrama. 

May 28, 1863 --Old Folks Concert Company. 

June 1, 1863 --Queen City Dramatic Company. 

April 19, 1864--Charles and Eliza Nestle (Fort 
Wayne midgets). 

Octobers, 1864- -Andrew Johnson. 



58 



October 1, 1864- -Oliver P. Morton, governor of 
Indiana . 

November 1, 1864- -Meeting of War Volunteers . 

September 3, 1866- -Major General Nathan Kim- 
ball. 

October 4, 1866--"East Lynn, " Pittsburgh Opera 
Company. 

November 10, 1866 --Chang and Eng, Siamese 
Twins . 

February 8, 1869--"Blind Tom," Negro pianist. 

June 18, 1870- -Democratic Convention. 

October 16, 1870- -The Great Ricardo (Prima 
donna). 

November 17, 1870--JohnE. Owens, comedian. 

February 28, 1871- -Adelaide Phillips, Concert 
singer. 

Octobers, 1872- -Laura Keene. 

November 12, 1872 --Japanese Troupe. 

November 23, 1872 --Rubenstein Concert Troupe. 

December 27, 1872--Felix A. Vincent, "The 
Organ Grinder ." 

February 27, 1873 --Madam Carlotti Patti, vo- 
calist. 

April 19, 1873 --Edwin Booth in "Hamlet." 

October 22, 1873 --Joe Murphy, comedian. 

December 28, 1874- -The Wallace Sisters. 

January 29, 1875 --Bret Harte, lecturer. 

March 24, 1875- -Temperance mass meeting. 

April 20, 1875--Fritz Listerman, violinist. 

May 20, 1877 - -Kate Clazton Troupe. 

March 12, 1878- -George Francis Train, lecturer . 

June 23, 1880- -Joseph Jefferson, comedian. 

March 2, 1861, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. 

Colerick Hall passed from the cultural scene 
eighty-eight years ago but it will be remembered as 
the upstairs theater that introduced Fort Wayne to the 
fine arts . 



59 



COLUMBIA STREET'S EARLY PROFILE DIM 

Of the 2, 500 firms estimated to have shared the 
business life of historic Columbia Street, only 125 
left any record of their existence. 

This attests, perhaps, to the old affluence of the 
one-time main street of the city and a progressively 
confusing system of numbering that stymies research. 
Some merchants chose to abide by the big numerals 
of gold plate that appeared on the transons of their 
stores in the earlier days, others did not. 

Throughout its business life, the 100 and 200 
blocks of East Columbia Street were the busiest. 




Columbia Street looking west from Barr Street . 

John W. Dawson, at one time editor and pub- 
lisher of the Fort Wayne Times, a newspaper that 
brought the city's first telegraph lines from Toledo 
to its offices in the 200 block of East Columbia, set 
down a vague word picture of that particular block in 
1838. This did not reach the public print until March, 
1872 under the title of Dawson's Charcoal Sketches 
of Early Fort Wayne. 



60 



It gives a ragged profile of the north side of the 
200 block east, between Clinton and Barr streets (now 
Freimann Park). He recalled construction of the 
large brick Barnett and Hanna building at the western 
extremity of the block, then the largest building in 
northern Indiana which served variously as a court 
house, clerk's office and sheltered several law offices 
as well as that of the Times. This early landmark of 
the street burned in 1860. 

At the east end of the block was the famous 
Barnett and Hanna Trading Post and in between were a 
small residence of William H. Coombs, then a young 
lawyer; a building housing the firm of Wright and 
Dubois and several less imposing structures. Lawyer 
Coombs' home was in the shadow of the Barnett -Hanna 
building. This is all history records of the north side 
of the 200 block east prior to the Civil War. 

At the start of the war a three -story brick build- 
ing made its appearance on the northeast corner of 
Columbia and Clinton streets and on October 7, 1861 
the firm of Thieme & Brothers, tailors, moved into 
the structure and remained there until the early part 
of the 20th Century. In the early 1870s a barber- 
shop was operated in the basement of the Thieme 
Building by Calvin A . Brooks, a negro. 

On January 9, 1893 Frederick Eckart and Charles 
McCullough sold the Thieme Building to the Hamilton 
National Bank. A fire caused an estimated $12,000 
damage to the tailoring firm which then purchased the 
Louis Heilbronner saloon property at 18 West Berry 
Street. This Berry Street property later was occupied 
by the Meyer Tailoring, successor to Thieme & Sons, 
and a reorganization of the original firm. 

In later years the Thieme Building itself was 
occupied by a fruit and produce house; it finally was 
razed and replaced by a parking lot . 

The Barnett and Hanna structure, which so im- 
pressed Dawson, was built by James Barnett in 1824 
and was the first brick building in Fort Wayne. There 
is a good record that the brick was made locally by 
Benjamin Archer; the building was unusual for the 
time and attracted sightseers from great distances. 



61 



During its early years the building was used for 
residential purposes; for nearly half a century it was 
occupied by Schwieters Bakery. B. F. Pettit bought 
the structure on January 8, 1907; part of the building 
had collapsed, probably as a result of the 1860 fire. 
It contained black-walnut beams, split oak lath and 
a fireplace that would accommodate ten-foot logs . 

After the fire, Dawson moved the Times office 
to the northwest corner of Main and Calhoun streets. 

Barnett, the builder, was the city's first town 
marshal when it was incorporated in 1829. His 
stipend was $2.00 a year. He became township trustee 
in 1834. 

Herman Schwieters opened his bakery and eating 
house during the Civil War and after his death two 
sons, Charles F. and John continued the business. 
When the Schwieters Bakery closed, its proprietors 
joined the bakery firm of Myron Downing. 

The Barnett and Hanna building was replaced by 
a three -story brick structure that was occupied for 
many years by a branch office of Swift & Company, 
Chicago meat packers . In later years the property 
served as a warehouse. 

A significant addition came to the 200 block east 
in 1904 with organization of the National Mill Supply 
by Sol A . Lehman. Prior to the turn of the century he 
had been involved in the lumber business and founded 
the Woodburn Lumber Company. In 1900 he relin- 
quished his holdings to devote his business energy to 
the Fort Wayne Steam Specialty Company established 
in a one -story building at 223 East Columbia. 

In 1917 this company took over the business of 
the Indiana Electric Appliance and the following year 
acquired Electric Supply & Fixture. The firm grew 
rapidly and soon invested in a five-story building at 
207 East Columbia which National Mill occupied up to 
1969. The old firm then constructed a new home north 
of the city near Industrial Park. 

Included in the National Mill complex was former 
Colerick Hall standing immediately to the east. 

Another old-timer of the 200 block is Indiana 
Feed & Seed, operated by Arthur Hille, established 



62 



at 219 East Columbia in 1921. Previously, the build- 
ing was occupied by several fruit wholesalers. 

The P & H Supply opened its doors at 223 -25 East 
Colunnbia in 1896, and in 1957 moved to 101 East 
Columbia on the northeast corner of Calhoun Street. 
The firm moved to 1815 South Anthony Boulevard in 
1956. 

Meanwhile, the corporate name of the firm was 
changed to Wayne Pipe & Supply Company with E.J. 
Trier as chairman of the board, J. M. Wilson, presi- 
dent, A.J.Jackson, secretary-treasurer and David 
Scherer, assistant secretary -treasurer . 

The former P & H Building on Columbia Street 
was occupied in later years by the Yarnelle Supply, 
founded by James Yarnelle and later operated by Na- 
tional Mill. 

Alexander M.Orbison operated the largest grain 
warehouse in the city on the Orbison Basin of the Canal 
near this block, starting in 1842. When the canal was 
abandoned, Orbison moved to the 200 block of East 
Columbia Street and in 1880 relocated in Sturgis, 
Michigan. 

It was in this block that Benjamin Tower oper- 
ated the B. H. Tower furniture factory and planing 
mill for many years: the mill was located on the north 
side of the canal. In 1850, the industrialist was named 
chief engineer of the fire department. 

Various other businesses are believed to have 
operated in the 200 block east, including Jared Cothrell's 
Mad Anthony Saloon and Eating House; Solomon Smith, 
agricultural implements; M. L. Mills & Company, 
furrier; W. Haskell, commission merchant; C. P. 
Fletcher billiard parlor and saloon; C. H. Schultz, 
saloon; Carrier & Weaver, wines and liquors; Nelson 
Wheeler, cabinet maker; D. O. O'Connell's Palace 
Hall saloon; Morris Cody grocery; John Reed, leather 
goods; Fort Wayne Buggy Top Company; Fort Wayne 
Paper Mills; Julius Beurett, stoves and tinware; H, P. 
Ayers, physician; American and U.S. Express Com- 
panies; John McCarty and J. H. Marshall. 

The north side of the 200 block east includes lots 
34-39 inclusive of the original plat of the city of Fort 



63 



Wayne; each of the lots was of sufficient size for two 
buildings; the numbering of the plats themselves began 
at Barr Street and ran westward . 

Today Freimann Park beckons downtown workers 
and visitors to relax on its grassy turf and wonder 
among its shrubs and trees --a far cry from the bustle 
and noise of former Columbia Street. 



FIRES CHANGED SKYLINE WHEN 
STREET WAS YOUNG 

Now but the shadow of a once robust business 
corridor, Columbia Street had a whim of changing its 
complexion with spectacular bursts of flame. 

That is how the Bijou Theater met its end and 
gave way to a hardware store. The Bijou, originally 
the Olympic, was an upstart on the southeast corner 
of Clinton and Columbia streets that starved out the 
box office of famous Colerick Hall across the street. 

It was peculiar to Columbia Street that the most 
important structures occupied street corners . This 
was typical of the south side of the 200 block east with 
the Olympic Theater to the west and Washington Hall, 
northern Indiana's finest hostelry for many years on 
the east corner. 

Officially, the south side of the 200 block east, 
included lots 58 to 63 inclusive of the original plat of 
the city of Fort Wayne. 

The first building of importance to precede the 
Olympic Theater on the southeast corner of Clinton 
and Columbia streets was an "elegant" department 
store operated by Marion Sweeter. It was recalled 
by John W. Dawson, early Fort Wayne publisher and 
political figure. Next door was the two-story log 
home of William G. Ewing. 

The record is not clear what happened, but the 
drygoods store was succeeded by the David M.Lunce- 
ford harness shop in 1854. A series of fires in spring, 
1860 made sudden changes in the business history of 



64 



this block. 

On March 19, 1860 the Lawrence Grocery and 
Barber Shop several doors east, directly across the 
street from Colerick Hall, was destroyed by fire. 
Two days later an attempt was made to burn the har- 
ness shop. 

The following April 3 a frame building on the 
southwest corner of Clinton and Columbia streets went 
up in flames and the fire leaped Clinton Street and 
razed the harness shop, the old Ewing homestead and 
two other buildings. From the charred remains of 
the log building, Colonel George W. Ewing salvaged 
enough timber to produce a number of canes which 
were distributed as gifts during an Old Settlers func- 
tion at Rockhill House, which stood on the present site 
of St. Joseph's Hospital, 

It was in 1878 that a contract was let for the 
construction of the Olympic Opera House on the site of 
the Lunceford harness shop. The contract called for 
an expenditure of $4,736. The grand opening of the 
theater came on December 16 and though some prom- 
inent road shows appeared there, the theater was 
temporarily closed by creditors on March 26, 1880. 

The theater reopened on April 19 for a run of 
"Yankee Robinson," a troupe which originated with a 
show in the old court house in 1848, and Robinson en- 
livened the performance with his personal experiences 
in show business . 

Presented by competition, the Olympic began 
serving its audiences beer and cigars on June 25, 1880 
but the house finally closed for the summer. The 
theater reopened the following August 20 under new 
management and with a number of improvements. On 
November 22 the new manager, William H. Morris, 
disappeared leaving a string of unpaid bills and a 
stranded show troupe. 

R. S. Smith of Indianapolis leased the theater 
and changed the name to the Bijou; a large audience 
responded to the opening on December 20. 

This management was short-lived; on February 
4, 1881, a fire gutted the theater causing damage es- 
timated at $1, 500. This ended the theater experience 



65 



of the structure and in 1882 it was occupied by the 
Pfeiffer & Schlatter Hardware after extensive repairs 
and improvements had been made. In January, 1883 
the firm excavated a basement under the building. 

Henry Pfeiffer withdrew from the firm early in 
1899 and Christian Schlatter incorporated the business 
as C. C. Schlatter & Company, capitalized at $50, 000. 

An explosion of oil and paint in the new basement 
of the Schlatter firm caused between $10, 000 and 
$15, 000 damage to the building on October 22, 1903. 




The former Schlatter Building at 601 South Clinton 
Street; corner of Columbia site of the "Olympic," 
later the Bijou Theater. Photo June 1962 by Sidney 
Pepe . 

This had been a two-story building until 1927 
when the widening of Clinton Street was begun. To 
compensate for space lost in the street widening and 
provide for future growth the Schlatter building was 
raised to five floors with display windows on the 
Clinton Street frontage. By this time it had become a 
complete hardware department store with sixty -five 
employees and the firm name was changed to the 



66 



Schlatter Hardware Company. As urban redevelop- 
ment approached in 1967, the firm established two 
new retail outlets in the northern part of the city. A 
heavy fire in the abandoned Clinton Street building 
hastened its razing. 

Merchant Sweeter, whose drygoods establish- 
ment gave prestige to the 200 block East Columbia, 
was active in behalf of the city's growth. He came to 
the city in 1832 and immediately engaged in business. 
In the civic area, he served as a trustee of the town, 
was a member of the committee that promoted the 
construction of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad, became 
a member of the first board of aldermen when Fort 
Wayne was incorporated as a city in 1840 and three 
years later served on the reception committee for the 
dedication of the Wabash and Erie Canal. He died in 
1875. 

Another prominent resident, Frank D. Paulus, 
partner in the Paulus -Kaough farm implement busi- 
ness at 58 East Columbia, was a personal friend of 
President James A. Garfield. 

From publisher Dawson's time until after the 
Civil War some of the known businesses of the south 
half of this block were the Phillip McDonald grocery 
and trading post, Patrick Corman grocery, gunsmith 
W. S. Smith, Frank LaSalle, Adam Hiltz bakery, 
Hypolite Mainer grocery and saloon, Francis Bercot 
boardinghouse, tailor Rudolph Boerger, John Mohr 
bootery, Miller and Blosser Bakery, Hiram Wells 
grocery, tailor John Grieb, shoemaker G. Reffel, 
John Did ier, grocery and liquor store, Henry Stellhorn 
bakery, Brandriff and Roberts home furnishings, S. 
Bryant fish and candy store, A.J. McCormick, furni- 
ture store, Robert Noll butcher shop, Fred Betsch 
basket shop, Louis Schenk Willow Ware store, M. 
Reed & Company produce house and the IraD .Williams 
photo gallery. 

Some of these early names may still be found in 
the city's present directory of residency. 



67 



BUSINESS BOOMED ALONG DOCK STREET 

More change came to the now -extinct 100 block 
of East Columbia Street- -once the city's business 
heartland --than any other portion of that thoroughfare . 
The business and industrial growth of Fort Wayne 
started on Columbia Street and this one -block area of 
great change involved only lots 40 to 45 of the city's 
Original Plat. 

Within less than a half-block of the area, on 
which the City -County Building now stands, were born 
the Meyer Brothers drug empire, the Wayne Hard- 
ware Company and S. Freiburger & Brother, once a 
prominent merchandiser of leather goods . 




100 block of East Columbia Street on the north side. 



An early business anchorage wasthe AllenHam- 
ilton trading post which occupied the northwest corner 
of Clinton and Columbia . In 1855 this became the 
site of a four-story building occupied by N. B. Free- 
man & Company drygoods merchants. 



68 



These businesses on the north side of the 100 
block east actually faced north at one time, overlook- 
ing what was a docking area of the Wabash and Erie 
Canal. After the passing of the canal, tracks for the 
Nickel Plate Road were laid over the dock and this 
stretch was referred to as Dock Street for many years . 

And, after the canal was abandoned, these 
businesses about-faced to front on Columbia Street. 
But architecturally they remained two-faced until they 
came down to make way for the government building. 

Organized in 1853 and at one time one of the 
largest wholesale drug outlets in the county, Meyer 
Brothers held its identity for a period of 116 years 
and only recently sold its interests to Hook Drugs . 

John Fredrick William Meyer, born at Halden, 
Westphalia, Germany in 1824, came to America at 
twenty-three with a brother, Fredrick. They made 
the crossing on an English sailing ship which docked 
at New Orleans . The brothers proceeded by packet 
to Cincinnati and by canalboat to New Bremen, Ohio 
where, for some reason, they lacked transportation 
westward. They walked from New Bremen to Mon- 
mouth, near Decatur, arriving exhausted and nearly 
frozen on December 3, 1847 . 

During a four -month stay in that community, 
they purchased and cleared a tract of land. They es- 
tablished permanent residence in Fort Wayne in 1849 
and obtained employment in the pioneer drug firm of 
Hugh B. Reed. In 1852 John became a partner in the 
firm of Wall & Meyer on the north side of Columbia 
Street a short distance west of Clinton Street. 

The following year the brothers organized the 
drug firm of Meyer Brothers & Company. So capable 
were the brothers at merchandising that in 1856 they 
organized an outlet in St. Louis which became one of 
the largest wholesale drug firms in the United States . 

A fire in 1862 destroyed the Fort Wayne invest- 
ment of the Meyer brothers but they reopened the 
store and operated at the original site until 1872 when 
the retail and wholesale divisions were moved to the 
southwest corner of Columbia and Calhoun streets in 
the new Keystone block where operations continued 



69 



until 1919. 

A second branch was established by Meyer 
Brothers in 1875 at Kansas City, Missouri and a third 
opened in Dallas in 1887. 

The business was purchased by a local group of 
businessmen in 1903 but retained its name. Directors 
of the new firm were J.F.N. Meyer, William J . Vesey, 
Charles F. Freese, F. B. Kunkle, Arthur Beuke, G. 
H. Heine and Robert Klaehn. After the death of Meyer 
in 1910, Gottlieb H. Heine became president of the 
firm and it flourished for many years . For a number 
of years the firm's executive offices were maintained 
on West Columbia Street immediately west of Fisher 
Brothers Paper Company. 

In early 1969 the Meyer Brothers chain was 
acquired by the Hook Drug Company of Indianapolis; 
the transaction involved ten stores in Fort Wayne and 
outlets in Anderson, Kokomo, Muncie, Noblesville, 
Richmond, South Bend, Goshen, LaPorte, and Misha- 
waka. In its recent history the Meyer's firm had 
corporate offices at 5025 New Haven Avenue under 
the name Meyer's Rexall Drugs. 

The birth of Wayne Hardware, another promi- 
nent member of the Columbia Street family, dates 
back to 1862 when Alvin S. and Edwin W. Prescott 
entered the hard goods business on West Columbia. 
In the early 1880s, the firm moved to the northwest 
corner of Clinton and Columbia where on June 18, 1883 
it closed its doors temporarily because of financial 
difficulties. The business was purchased the follow- 
ing September for $24,000 by Gideon W. Seavey. 
Seavey a native of Palmyra, Illinois, came to the city 
in 1877 and engaged in the practice of law three years 
later . 

In 1880, Seavey became involved in the lumber 
business and upon purchase of the defunct Prescott 
firm the store reopened as the G. W. Seavey Com- 
pany. His son, Walter, entered the firm and in 1897 
Seavey' moved to 121 West Main Street and on January 
30, 1914 was incorporated as the Seavey Hardware 
Company. 

Increasing business led the firm to move to the 



70 



northwest corner of Pearl and Harrison streets; the 
first floor of this building had been occupied by the 
interurban waiting room and ticket office. In 1919 a 
business group headed by Frank H. Cutshall acquired 
the Seavey interests and on April 5, 1920 was incor- 
porated as the Wayne Hardware Company. Dean F . 
Cutshall, a son of Frank H. Cutshall, now heads the 
firm. 

The Freiburger firm was established in 1870 by 
Leopold Freiburger who had come to Fort Wayne from 
Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Joseph and Herman Freiburger, 
sons of the founder, served as president and secre- 
tary-treasurer, respectively; they were dealers in 
leather goods and adult and children's shoes. 

Soon after the Seavey building was vacated on 
the northwest corner of Columbia and Clinton, the 
Freiburgers opened a subsidiary there, the Fort 
Wayne Glove & Mitten Company. 

One of the many fires that persisted in changing 
the business complexion of Columbia Street destroyed 
the Morgan & Beach Hardware Company, 119-21 East 
Columbia Street, the Nathan Kircheimer wholesale 
paper store and the Romary-Goeglein Hardware Store 
at a loss of $150, 000 on February 28, 1897. Shortly 
after the fire the Morgan & Beach site was acquired by 
the Freiburgers who built a six-story building there 
and subsequently moved to this center position on the 
north side of the 100 block east. 

In 1837 the post office was maintained in a low, 
frame building on the north side of the 100 block east 
by Henry Rudisill. A four-story brick building made 
its appearance on the site of the old Hamilton trading 
post in 1855 and was occupied by N. B. Freeman & 
Company, drygoods merchants. The general offices 
of the Wabash & Erie Canal, including the superinten- 
dent and toll collector, were located on the second 
floor of this building on the northwest corner of Co- 
lumbia and Clinton. 

In 1837, Dr. Merchant W. Huxford operated a 
respected drug firm in the half -block north, westward 
from Clinton Street . The Huxford residence, a gray 
stucco building, still stands at the rear of a service 



71 



station on the southeast corner of Spy Run and Tennes- 
see avenues, now occupied by Old Fort Books. 

More than a dozen older firms are known to 
have done business in this bustling half block during 
the earlier years, dispensing groceries, leather 
goods, spices, hard goods, meat, books, stationery 
and footwear. 



ENTERPRISE WAS LEGACY OF A 
STREET THAT DIED 

Imaginative merchandising was a way of life 
along old Columbia Street, the street that began as a 
path to the fort and served as the city's main thor- 
oughfare for many years . 

This was particularly true of the north side of 
the 100 block East Columbia where one establishment 
had a resident buyer in the East and another scattered 
its salesmen all over the Midwest. 

The Rothchild Brothers, Solomon and Benjamin, 
were widely known through the Midwest in the men's 
clothing field. Their retail outlet, known as the Red 
Front Clothing Store, first occupied the imposing 
Keystone Block on the southwest corner of Columbia 
and Calhoun streets and moved to 107 East Columbia 
in 1876. The business expanded into an adjoining 
building and a wholesale outlet was developed that 
dispatched sales people all over the Midwest. 

On the northeast corner of Calhoun and Columbia 
streets Jonas Wade Townley of Elizabeth, New Jersey 
established a general store in 1839. He sold the busi- 
ness in 1862 to a brother, Robert Townley, George 
DeWald and Henry Bond, then the firm became known 
as Townley, DeWald, Bond and Company. Robert, 
senior partner who also served as town trustee and 
councilman, resided in Elizabeth, New Jersey and 
served as the firm's eastern buyer, making annual 
visits to Fort Wayne. He was elected mayor of Eliza- 
beth in 1876, and his death occurred four years later. 



72 



The firm subsequently became known as George De- 
Wald & Company. 

Inevitable circumstances and one of those spec- 
tacular fires changed the leadership of the firm in 
rapid sequence; Townley died in 1897 and George 
DeWald passed away two years later. 

Late the same year the DeWald building and the 
adjoining M. F. Kaag china store were destroyed by 
a $225, 000 blaze. The next day, President Robert T. 
DeWald of the firm announced the block would be re- 
built and temporary business quarters were established 
in the Baltes Block on the southeast corner of Berry 
and Harrison streets. 




The George DeWald Company building at the northeast 
corner of Columbia and Calhoun streets . Erected in 
1900 following the DeWald Company fire of 1899. 
Photographed 1961 by Sidney Pepe. 



The new DeWald business building on Columbia 
Street was completed in 1900 and the firm continued 



73 



until 1936 with Robert W. T. DeWald as president; 
George L. DeWald as vice-president and William Beck 
as secretary-treasurer. This firm, with a record of 
ninety-seven years in the city, was succeeded by the 
Fort Wayne Drygoods Company. 

In 1937 the P & H Supply Company which had 
operated at 223-25 East Columbia moved into the De- 
Wald building and continued there until 1956 when the 
firm moved to 1815 South Anthony Boulevard. This 
then became one of the buildings to absorb the bur- 
geoning services of Allen County government which in 
recent years, overflowed the court house and took 
offices in quarters scattered through the business 
district. 

Another great firm on Columbia Street, the 
Morgan & Beach Hardware, was wiped out by a $125,000 
fire February 28, 1897. The business had been es- 
tablished in 1846 by Henry Durarie, a native of Ger- 
many, who sold out to Oliver P. Morgan ten years 
later. Fredrick Beach, a native of Germany, was 
admitted to the firm in 1862 and in 1864 a fourth floor 
was added to the hardware firm's building at 19-21 
East Columbia. Beach died in April, 1895 and Morgan 
purchased his partner's interests from heirs of the 
estate, Morgan, a native of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, 
served as a member of the city council, recorder and 
public school trustee . His father, Joseph Morgan, 
served as mayor. The younger Morgan also had serv- 
ed as a collector on the Wabash and Erie Canal, 

The firm was known as Morgan & Company when 
the fire wrote an end to the business. Freiburger 
Brothers, prominent leather merchants, erected a 
six-story building on this site. 

Just west of Morgan & Company stood the Post 
House, one of the earliest structures on the north side 
of the 100 block east which served the public until 
after the Civil War. It took its name from the pro- 
prietor, James Post, and for some years was one of 
the two establishments in the town where a full course 
meal could be had. 

After the Civil War several businesses occupied 
Post House without leaving any record. The City's 



74 



first Ford auto agency was established in this build- 
ing by Jesse Brosius, who lived on the southwest cor- 
ner of Cass and Fourth streets. 

Late in the 19th Century Alexander H . Staub 
operated a tin shop on the site; Staub sold out to two 
employees, John Kissing and Charles B. Rundell who 
changed the name of the firm to Kissing and Kundell. 
Kundell later became sole owner of the business until 
his death in April, 1938; shortly afterward the firm 
was liquidated . 

Joseph Bell crossed the threshold of two busi- 
ness failures at 11 East Columbia Street to open the 
most plush buggy agency in the area . The firm of 
Harper, Edsall and Monahan which operated there 
earlier, filed bankruptcy in 1876 and during December, 
the Douglas S . Low millinery house was moved there . 
This business ended with the assignment of Low's 
property to Fredrick T. Zollars, attorney for the 
creditors. 

Bell featured a large display room in the build- 
ing in which various types of buggies were displayed 
under hitch to life-size figures of horses. Bell also 
stocked the latest trends in harness; this business 
continued until the early part of the present century. 

Probably the first of several grocers to make an 
appearance on the south side of the street was William 
Henderson whose store was just east of Calhoun Street . 
Later Henry T.Sharp had a hat and fur business there 
which was destroyed by fire early in March, 1863. 
Sharp moved to the old post office building on Clinton 
Street near the mayor's office; he subsequently was 
the successful Citizens Ticket candidate for mayor, 
winning a majority of 693 votes over his opponent, 
B. H. Tower. 

The H. K, Schwegman Drygoods firm opened at 
the scene of the Sharp fire in 1864 and operated for a 
few years until the C. Orff drygoods and millinery 
business occupied both 105 and 107 East Columbia. 

On Christmas Day, 1874 the Orff store was the 
scene of an $8, 000 robbery and the next February the 
firm went into receivership with liabilities of $10, 000. 
On April 29, 1875 K.T. McDonald was chosen assignee 



75 



for the store at a meeting of creditors, and an 
effort was made to liquidate the encumbrance. The 
store operated until 1880 when another of those Co- 
lumbia Street fires destroyed the contents of the store 
and gutted offices of a newspaper, The Dispatch, on 
the second floor at a loss of $3,000. The following 
April 20 the Orff Company moved to the southwest 
corner of Calhoun and Columbia streets. Orff had 
been elected to the city council in 1857 and was ap- 
pointed to the board of school trustees in 1863 . 

M. F . Kaag & Sons, a once widely-known china- 
ware business organized on what is now the West Co- 
lumbia Street "Landing" was moved to 105 East Co- 
lumbia after Jacob Kaag, a member of the firm, died 
September 17, 1884. With the move, the firm was 
reorganized by Mathias F. Kaag, C. F. W. Kaag and 
Fred Kaag, and as importers and jobbers they devel- 
oped a leadership of the chinaware field here, handl- 
ing china, glass, queensware, silverware, cutlery 
and crockery. The great fire of December 27, 1899 
destroyed this business along with the DeWald store . 
The next day, Mathias Kaag, purchased the entire 
stock of Ward's Crockery, 108 West Columbia, and 
after rebuilding at the scene of the fire, the business 
continued for another quarter century. 



CITY -COUNTY BUILDING LINKS PAST 
TO PRESENT 

The City -County Building has swallowed up the 
100 block of East Columbia Street, a once- teeming 
business frontage that yielded fortunes, often throbbed 
with excitement and sometimes was shadowed by 
tragedy. 

It was the only block of the city's original main 
street that gave deference to one bearing the shingle 
of "T. Hoagland, draper and tailor." Just southward 
on Clinton Street was the shop and residence of Jean 
Baptiste Bequette, silversmith and jeweler who could 



76 



be identified as the city's first manufacturer. A bit 
further south lived Captain Dana Columbia of canal - 
boat fame, after whom the street was named. 




South side of 100 block of East Columbia Street 



A constant Columbia Street visitor was White 
Racoon. This tribesman was at the Indian trading 
house on East Main when he was stabbed by a huge 
savage known as "Bob" in a fur room at the rear of 
the structure . 

This was the summer of 1838 and John Dawson 
had occasion to visit White Racoon frequently as he 
lay dying. The devotion of the Indian's Squaw im- 
pressed the early newspaperman and moved the editor 



77 



to an eloquence that has been preserved by history in 
Charcoal Sketches . 
He witnessed: 



a devotion on the part of his (Racoon's) squaw 
wife which Washington Irving could not sketch truer 
than he did the wife in his Sketch Book. It was an af- 
fecting sight and like a 'thing of beauty which is a joy 
forever.' It impressed my young mind so deeply as 
to be undimmed by the lapse of long and busy years . 
In fact, since that time, while mingling with the world 
and taking notes of its lights and trying to forget its 
shadows, I have seen wives who while deeply con- 
scious of their spiritual relation to every child of God, 
and polished from the fountains of literature and 
science, were yet seemingly wanting in the love of 
that untutored heart which needed a faith and hope that 
could not be bounded by earthly limits and restraints." 



Because of what might have been the custom of 
the time, no punitive action was taken in the case by 
the white community, but the giant Bob lived in con- 
stant fear of reprisals from White Racoon's friends. 

One day Bob was decoyed to a spring on the 
Miami reservation and while he lay on the ground to 
drink, two avenging compatriots of White Racoon 
crushed his head with a rock. 

Much later prestige came to what is now the 
north frontage of the City-County Building with such 
firms as the Rurode Drygood Company, H. J. Ash 
Company, the Pickard Home Furnishings, Maier & 
Son Grocery and Hoff Brau Haus, a place which be- 
came noted through the Midwest for its German 
cuisine. 

The Rurode firm, originally known as the New 
York Store, may have served as a filament for other 
enterprising businesses which followed. E.G. Rurode 
came to Fort Wayne in 1860 from Terre Haute as a 
young man and with John MacDougal and L. B. Root 
established a drygoods firm at 90 East Columbia be- 
side the Maiers Grocery Store. 

The established firm name was MacDougal, Root 



78 



& Company and it flourished from the beginning. The 
firm was represented by a buyer in New York City 
who took advantage of auctions and forced sales in the 
metropolis. The store was burglarized on April 13, 
1863 and $5, 000 worth of silks stolen. 

The store moved to the present site of the new 
Fort Wayne National Bank Building across from the 
court house on Calhoun Street in 1870. MacDougal 
had withdrawn from the business just before the move 
and the firm became known as Root & Company. Mac- 
Dougal, who had married Julia Hedekin, the daughter 
of Michael Hedekin, builder of Hedekin House on Barr 
Street, died October 24, 1895. 

Root passed away two years later and Ernest C. 
Rurode and Charles Kremmel completed the purchase . 
The firm then became known as the Rurode Drygoods 
or the New York Store. After operating for many 
years, assets of the Rurode Company were acquired 
by the former Earl Groth & Company, which remained 
a prominent downtown firm for many years . 

The name of Henry J. Ash was to become asso- 
ciated with the winter comfort of Fort Wayne citizens 
for many years. A native of New Hampshire, he came 
to Fort Wayne February 12, 1860 at the age of twenty- 
one and opened a tin shop at 61 East Columbia Street. 
There he put into use a metal forming machine 
invented by a brother-in-law, I. Fay, of Cincinnati. 
The same year he formed a partnership with E.Agnew 
of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the resulting firm was 
known to the trade as the Union Store and Tin Shop. 

They moved in October, 1861 into a building at 
87 East Columbia formerly occupied by H . E . Schweg- 
man and five years later Agnew sold his interests to 
Frederick McCulloch and the name of the firm was 
changed to Ash & McCulloch. 

This partnership lasted three years when Ash 
sold out to McCulloch and briefly retired from the 
field of business. He re-entered the stove and tinware 
business in 1871, both retail and wholesale. The firm 
was area agent for the famous "Garland" line of stoves, 
ranges and baseburners and shortly after the turn of 
the century. Ash became the first outlet in Fort Wayne 



79 



for the Holland Furnace Company. 

The son of the founder, Fred Ash, managed the 
business until March, 1912 when assets of the firm 
were sold to the Pickard House Furnishings . The 
elder Ash, whose home was on the site of the present 
Davis Auto Company, Main and Barr streets, was 
eighty-three when he died in November, 1922. He had 
been in business on Columbia Street for half a century. 

An estimated 2, 500 different business firms 
came to and left Columbia Street before it bowed to 
urban development. The records of many are lost. 
An example is the Atlantic Gardens, a popular gather- 
ing place late in the 19th Century which was located 
about mid -block in a building last occupied by the 
Korte Paper. No record can be found of when the 
Gardens was established or by whom, but there is a 
record of the business being purchased December 24, 
1888, by Hyppolite Gerardin, who was the maternal 
grandfather of Arthur Wunderlin. Gerardin died in 
1911- -his is the only name that can be linked to the 
Atlantic Gardens . 



CITY -COUNTY BUILDING SITE OF 
FIRST ICE CREAM PLANT 

Somehow, the City-County Building should 
preserve the remembrance of grocer John G. Maier 
who gave the city its initial taste of manufactured 
ice cream. This palatable experience came some 
time between 1861 and 1867, 

The Maier store, a brief business facade for a 
man of innovations, was located along what is now the 
north wall of the new government building; it preceded 
the Korte Paper building about midway of the south 
side of the 100 block of East Columbia Street. 

Maier, a native of Germany, came to Fort Wayne 
from Ohio in 1846; he served as postmaster from 1852 
to 1860. He raised and distributed the first straw- 
berries in Allen County and introduced to the local 



80 



market the first musical instruments and toys. 

And more --the Maier family was the first to 
press grape wine for commercial purposes and it was 
used for some years in the sacrament of communion 
at Trinity English Lutheran Church . 

The details of these contributions to community 
life have been lost in history. However, it is known 
that the Maier Grocery opened its doors May 1, 1861 
and operated as John G. Maier & Son until January 31, 
1867 when the business was sold to A . R. Henderson 
and H.N. Putman. 

The Maier family resided at 78 South Lafayette 
Street. This early Columbia Street merchant died 
July 4, 1880, aged seventy years, and funeral services 
were conducted at the family homestead by Rev. 
Samuel Wagenhals. 

In later years there came to the same row of 
Columbia Street buildings a firm organized as an out- 
let for stoves manufactured in Lawton Park; in the 
early 20th Century it became the Pickard House Fur- 
nishing Company. 

T. R . Pickard came to the city from Mt. Vernon, 
Ohio to become superintendent of the Bass Foundry & 
Machine Company. Later he started the T. R. Pickard 
& Sons stove foundry just south of the present City 
Light & Power plant. The store on Columbia Street 
was opened as an outlet for the foundry, and a son, 
Peter E. Pickard, who was a year old when the family 
moved to Fort Wayne, became manager of the store 
after completing high school. 

The stove foundry closed June 9, 1883 and on 
October 19, 1885 the building burned to the ground; 
it was never rebuilt. 

Peter Pickard continued operation of the Colum- 
bia Street store and was joined by a brother Harry R . 
Pickard; the firm operated as Pickard Brothers. In 
1893 Peter supplied the designfor a new building raised 
by R. L. Romy on the south side of Columbia Street 
near Calhoun Street to replace two old business houses. 
The Pickards moved into the new accommodations in 
August, 1893 and expanded in the areas of furniture, 
rugs and chinaware . M. Woodruff of Van Wert, Ohio 



purchased the Romy Building on April 8, 1895 for 
$22,000. 

An incorporation of the firm under the name 
Pickard House Furnishing Company came in 1908 with 
Peter Pickard as president; A. W. Pickard, secretary 
and Thomas E. Pickard, treasurer. 

In 1912 the firm purchased the adjoining stove 
business of H. J. Ash giving it a frontage of sixty feet 
on the street, 112-114-116 East Columbia. The store 
was destroyed by a fire in 1926 and the business con- 
tinued in leased quarters at 1124 South Calhoun Street . 

Peter Pickard, who resided at 702 West Wayne 
retired after fifty -four years of business life and died 
August 24, 1935 at the age of eighty at his summer 
home on Torch Lake, Michigan. 

The southeast corner of Columbia and Calhoun 
streets began and ended as the scene of convivialty, 
and its heyday came during the era of Hoff Brau Haus, 
a tavern of Barvarian decor that became known all 
over the Midwest for its German food . 

To begin with, a Captain Ben Smith, possibly of 
Wabash & Erie Canal background, operated a grocery 
and saloon on the corner --the two businesses often 
went together on Columbia Street. After Captain 
Smith's time there were numerous occupants, among 
them the Benham Photo Gallery, John Hamilton's boots 
and shoes, N. P. Stockberger book and stationery 
store, and shortly after the Civil War, the Meyer and 
Graffe Jewelry Store went into business there and re- 
mained until September, 1904. 

At this time Mrs. William Fleming sold the 
property to Alex Jaxtheimer, a tailor, for $25,000. 
Later the building was acquired by Harry Wiebke and 
became known as the Wiebke Block. For several years 
Wiebke operated the Palace Saloon there, assisted by 
Clem Ruple and John Joho. 

The property was architecturally converted to 
become the Hoff Brau Haus between 1906 and 1907, and 
a German cuisine was developed that became widely 
popular. In later years it served only as a tavern and 
was known simply as "The Hoffbrau." 

The business was liquidated in 1947 after 



82 



Wiebke's death, and the building was purchased by 
Goodwill Industries, Inc. in 1947. Goodwill was 
operating a few doors east on the old Pickard site and 
cleared the corner in 1950 to provide auto parking for 
Goodwill employees. 



MAGNETISM OF A SQUARE WILL 
LINGER IN MEMORY 

The new City -County Building effaces a 19th 
Century image of downtown that appealed to genera- 
tions from the horse and buggy era into the nuclear - 
space age. 

Around the block measured by Calhoun, Colum- 
bia, Clinton and Main streets were businesses that 
became institutions: Riegel's, the Fortriede shoe 
store, for a time Hoff Brau Haus, Meeker's barber 
shop, the Dutch Lunch and a fragrant comer that 
housed the Moritz fruit store . 

"Nothing like this will ever exist in the city 
again," commented Roy M. Bates, city and county 
historian, who made the rounds of that block with 
countless others until the memorable and frescoed 
skyline fell under redevelopment. 

Saturday afternoon could start with lunch at 
Riegel's and continue with a business or social call at 
Fortriede's, a refreshing interlude in Choral W. 
Meeker's barber chair, a round-table at the Dutch 
Lunch and finally a package snack for home from 
Moritz' s . 

And during an afternoon round of that block, 
anyone was liable to meet most everyone else. 

For more years than succeeding generations 
will believe, Saturday afternoon was a ritual there. 
The pulse of the city, even the county, was taken 
around the square, and sometimes the issues of the 
day were distilled in these business institutions where 
sociability was a way of merchandising. Every shop 



83 



had something to offer off the shelves--or in friend- 
ship. 

The barbershop, in which Meeker groomed 
friends and patrons for sixty -four years, was the first 
to close its doors on the square in December, 1966. 
His patrons were loyal to the finish - -Albert Fortriede, 
one of the proprietors of a business around the corner 
and Historian Bates were the last customers . The 
shop at 132 East Columbia had been in business for 
many years when Meeker took a chair there . 

Dutch Heinle's or the Dutch Lunch would have 
rounded out that year at 6 16- 18 South Clinton Street but 
for circumstances that forced an earlier vacation of 
the premises. Arnold Heemsoth, who succeeded his 
father, Henry, as proprietor of the popular tavern 
and several of his employees were stricken by illness 
and the bar taps were closed for the last time on the 
eve of Christmas, 1966. 

Historic Riegel's on the northeast corner of 
Main and Calhoun streets, which had prepared a new 
location across the street, closed its doors just before 
a razing ceremony on August 10, 1967 and Fortriede' s, 
in business since 1863, closed its doors five days 
later. The last to leave the shoe store were again 
Historian Bates, barber Meeker along with Paul Wolf 
and Henry Wyss, the owner of a pair of boots hand- 
crafted for his grandfather by Louis Fortriede, founder 
of the business . 

Fortriede's, which continued to offer custom 
footwear after the development of the shoe industry, 
was a place filled with heirlooms of the trade, and 
like other institutions of the square, its salesroom 
offered comfort for those who just came to sit awhile. 

The repair shop contained some tools that had 
been used to make footwear for Napoleon's army. A 
grandfather of Andrew Lindner, one of the thirteen 
shoe builders once employed by the firm, had been a 
shoemaker in Napoleon's army. Lindner straddled a 
shoemaker's bench in the store for more than forty 
years and many of his tools were left to the shop. 
Later the items were given to the Allen County - 
Fort Wayne Historical Museum. 



84 



For many years the four brothers who succeeded 
their father, Louis the elder, in the business, were 
known as "The Harmony Four" --Waldemar, the shoe 
builder, Edwin, Louis, Jr. and Albert. Prior to the 
closing the store had been operated by Louis, Jr. and 
Albert. 

In the old days, dressings compounded for fine 
leather could be used also as ointments for skin in- 
fections! Until its closing the store maintained an 
index of fittings for customers living from northern 
Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. 

When it passed out of existence, Fortriede's 
was the fourth oldest business establishment of the 
city. The original store was founded in the 100 block 
West Main Street, but had been located on Calhoun 
Street since 1887 . 

The second floor of the building for many years 
sheltered the Trouteman & Ortman cigar factory, and 
the flooring was so impregnated with the essence of 
tobacco that the Fortriede brothers, who later used 
the space for warehousing, had only to sprinkle the 
timbers with water to produce vapors that drove pests 
away. 

The third floor of the old business building once 
was the domain of Encampment No. 16 of the Odd 
Fellows Lodge, a fraternal organization that dated 
back to the 1850s . 

Insulating of the floors withtanbark was a unique 
feature of the business structure. Its appearance in 
the debris, if noticed, likely puzzled the wreckers. 

Riegel's was a Grand Central Station in minia- 
ture when the streetcars and later the trolley coaches 
went their separate ways from the Transfer Corner . 
For years there was a spacious basement kitchen that 
served the lunch counters upstairs. Riegel's has been 
Riegel's since 1905, but for many years a cigar store 
was operated on the original site by Joseph Getz . Al 
Riegel founded the business which had become widely 
known for its tobaccos. The business descended to two 
nephews, Frank Rougher and the late George Kuntz, 
and they remained partners until the latter' s death. 
Riegel's is now located at 624 South Calhoun Street. 



85 



The business has been described as the hub of 
the home-to-work and the work -to-home cycle of the 
downtown workers. The store opened at 5:30 a.m. 
and did not close until after the last streetcar had left 
the Transfer Corner at night. 

Meeker's place of business had been a barber- 
shop continuously since 1889 and until the last it re- 
mained a place where men stopped for social ex- 
changes as well as a freshening in Meeker's chair. 
Former residents who returned to the city were often 
surprised to find Mr. Meeker still crafting at the 
same old stand. As the time neared for the shop's 
closing, Meeker discouraged talk of it among his pa- 
trons; "Lets talk about something else, " he'd suggest. 

The Dutch Lunch, known for its German food as 
was Hoff Brau Haus on the southeast corner of Colum- 
bia and Calhoun streets, became a popular haunt for 
succeeding generations. On Saturday afternoons, 
tables would be pushed together for regular gatherings 
of fifteen or more people, and for a time there was 
talk of incorporating one of the groups that got together 
there regularly on the weekend . 

There were songfests on Saturday night, and for 
years a German band, crowded against the sidewalk 
windows, livened the tempo of things. 

One Saturday afternoon group always closed its 
session with a ceremonial drink, for some reason 
called a "schwope." Normally this consisted of a 
mixture of gin and kimmel, but if the afternoon had 
been a particularly jovial one, the schwope was some- 
times drawn from the water tap. 

For seventy-three years the Moritz Brothers 
firm vended solid fruit, crisp vegetables, peanuts and 
bulk candies for all but a few years on Main Street a 
few doors west of Clinton Street. When buildings 
began tumbling to make way for the City -County Build- 
ing, the business was moved to 621 South Harrison 
Street. 

It was an irony that the building of court houses 
influenced the beginning and ending of the Moritz busi- 
ness. In 1896 August Moritz opened the store on the 
south side of Main Street, near Clinton, and when the 



86 



street was closed for the beginning of work on the 
present court house in 1897, Moritz moved the store 
across the street. When Gus Moritz died in 1905 
Ongle and John Moritz took over the store. John had 
begun working for Gus Moritz when twelve, and re- 
mained in the business until seventy. 

"The old place at Main and Clinton meant a lot 
to us," Mrs. Moritz commented as business was fi- 
nally suspended. "We saw a lot of changes take place 
from the windows." 

Now only one business remains to remind of the 
fellowship that attracted people to the square for more 
than a half a century. "Drop me off at Riegel's," 
Historian Bates asked a friend the other day: "I want 
to browse around and see what's going on." 



BUSY STREET 
HAD TIME FOR WELFARE PURSUITS 

Two institutions that have contributed to the 
strong social philosophies of the century were born in 
the 100 block of East Columbia Street, along the north 
wall of the present City -County Building. 

The Fort Wayne Rescue Home and Mission, or- 
ganized in 1903, first occupied a building at 118 East 
Columbia and in 1937 Goodwill Industries, Inc. set up 
its sheltered workshop at 112-14 where a grand 
opening was held on January 15 the following year . 

Thus, the contributions of this one-time main 
street of Fort Wayne were not confined to the com- 
mercial and industrial development of the community. 

The mission, whose dedication has been to the 
loneliest of men, now occupies a modern structure at 
301 West Superior. The mission was experienced at 
over -coming odds since at one time in the late 1950s 
the institution was forced to curtail its services as 
the building it occupied was condemned for safety 



87 



reasons, floor by floor . 

Goodwill, a sheltered workshop for the handi- 
capped that has won national recognition in the field, 
outgrew its facilities on Columbia Street and now has 
a modern store and plant at 3127 Brooklyn Avenue. 

A Grand Rapids and Indiana locomotive engineer 
named Cooper resigned from the railroad to become 
the first director of the Rescue Mission. Several 
years later Rev. Kenneth Hawkins became super- 
intendent and held that position for more than thirty 
years . The first floor of the original Columbia Street 
building was used for religious services and dining. 
The second floor was converted into a dormitory. 

In 1945 the mission moved to a four -story build- 
ing on the northwest corner of Columbia and Lafayette 
streets; in earlier years the structure had served as 
a hotel for many years under a number of proprietors 
and at one time was painted red as a symbol of the 
trade to which it catered. 

During occupancy by the mission, the building 
slowly began to surrender to age and its upper floors 
were closed off. In 1959, the Mission was forced to 
suspend dormitory services and issued tokens for its 
patrons' food and lodging elsewhere. 

The expense of this operation crystalized com- 
munity support of a new facility for the mission, and 
in 1968 new quarters were made ready for the institu- 
tion on West Superior Street, through the efforts of 
Rev. Charles Dickinson, present superintendent. 

Goodwill Industries first made use of what had 
been the well-established Pickard House Furnishing 
Company which moved to Calhoun Street during the 
decline of Columbia. A hardware store and the DeWald 
Drygoods occupied the structure immediately before 
Goodwill. 

In May 1939, Goodwill purchased the Columbia 
Street building from the First & Tri -State Corpora- 
tion and in 1945 purchased the Wiebke Block on the 
southeast corner of Columbia and Calhoun, the site of 
the once -famous Hoff Brau Haus . Three years later 
the building was removed to provide a parking area 
for Goodwill workers. 



88 




The site of the Hoff Brau Haus at the southeast corner 
of Columbia and Calhoun streets. This half -block 
area was cleared in 1959 to make way for a parking 
lot and future site of the proposed City-County Build- 
ing. Photo April 1960 by Sidney Pepe. 



Reverend H. A. Davis managed the first opera- 
tion of Goodwill, and Homer Gettle served as president 
of the board. Further expansion and modern facilities 
came during the administration of Louis R . Veale as 
executive director. 

The fortune of a prominent Fort Wayne family- 
was seeded along that north wall of the City -County 
Building. B. R. Noll for many years operated a drug 
store at 110 East Columbia. He was the father of the 
late Bishop John F. Noll of the Fort Wayne diocese of 
the Catholic Church and founder of Our Sunday Visitor 
Publishing House; William Noll, founder of the nation- 
ally-known Pinex Company on West Columbia; George 
Noll, who for many years represented Pinex in Canada 



89 



and Albert Noll who succeeded his father in the drug 
business. 

Earlier businesses along the north side of Gov- 
ernment Square included the shoe firm of C . Schiefer 
& Son, opened in the 1870s at 108 East Columbia. 
Members of this firm were Christian and William D. 
Schiefer and Herman H. Hartwig. By mutual consent, 
the firm was dissolved in March, 1888 and shortly 
afterwards the business was reopened by William 
Schiefer at the same location with Hartwig as man- 
ager. The firm continued in business until the mid- 
1930s . Christian, who had come to Fort Wayne in 
1846, resided at 333 East Main Street and lived to be 
seventy -eight . 

At what became 106 East Columbia, Abraham 
Hyman opened Sam's Clothing Store in the 1870s. The 
business ran into financial difficulty, and Hyman 
loaded up his stock and departed on August 2, 1876. 
The wagon train was intercepted in New Haven by 
Constable John Robbins who impounded and ware- 
housed the stock. 

East of the fire alley, the only one along all of 
former Columbia Street, Henry Klebe operated a 
harness shop for many years; at number 122 was the 
J. M. Stouder hardware store. Stouder, an authority 
on Indian lore, was responsible for the identification 
of the bones of Miami Chief Little Turtle when his 
grave was unexpectedly opened during the excavation 
of a basement of the late George W. Gillie residence. 

It was on the south side of this block that the 
Fort Wayne Saddlery operated for many years under 
the management of Frank Singery. The business final- 
ly was moved to the east end of Superior Street near 
Spy Run Avenue Bridge . 

This block also saw the coming and going of the 
J. B. Keely Grocery and Saloon, the Kline grocery, 
the Baker Ale House and the Baker Brothers Saloon. 

There was another oasis at 126 known as the 
"White Glove Saloon." There is a record that belies 
its name: On April 24, 1894 proprietor JohnGronendyke 
and Police Chief Frank Wilkinson fought almost to the 
death: both were badly injured. Gronendyke was 



90 



arrested on a charge of assault with intent to kill 



WEST COLUMBIA LIVES ON 
IN MODERN PATTERN 

A dash of Fort Wayne's old flavor had been pre- 
served by a happy pairing of sentiment and enterprise. 

This escape into yesterday is provided by the 
100 block of West Columbia Street, the only block of 
the city's one-time main thoroughfare to survive ur- 
ban redevelopment . It has become an interesting 
contrast to the pattern of today through the efforts of 
Mrs. Edward (Joan) White, wife of a Fort Wayne 
industrialist, and a number of cooperating individuals 
and agencies. 

Officially, this nostalgic business block became 
known as "The Landing" in 1965--the area once paral- 
leled busy docks of the Wabash and Erie Canal which 
fed its hotels and grain mills . Now butted against the 
new City-County Building, West Columbia will in 
coming years provide a unique and sharp contrast of 
metropolitan today and yesterday. 

West Columbia is the only business corridor 
that has echoed all the sounds of mass transportation; 
the chop-chopping of shod horses, the trumpeting of 
canalboat skippers, the hoarse bark of the steam lo- 
comotive, the rattle of streetcars and the rumble of 
the diesels. To this din the automobile added its un- 
muffled staccato. The street has been rocked, too, 
by sonic booms. 

The west end of the block, at Harrison Street, 
once sloughed away into a great bulge of the canal 
known as the Orbison Basin. The basins gave leeway 
for maneuvering and turning the canalboats . 

The Orbison basin, which took its name from 
an enterprising miller, made a crescent through what 
is now the northeast corner of Columbia and Harrison 
streets . It took out the north side of that block the 
space now occupied by the last two business struc- 
tures . 



91 



The shore activities that developed around the 
basin gave the western terminus of Columbia Street 
its hotels and grain mills . 

West Columbia is bisected by a significant 
boundary- -a reminder of the city's small beginning. 
The eastern half of the block was a part of the original 
plat of the city of Fort Wayne, as laid out by the com- 
munity's first land brokers, Barr and McCorkle. The 
west half of the block belonged to the Taber Addition. 

Just west of the Orbison Basin was a causeway 
of earthen fill leading to the Harrison Street Bridge 
over the canal. West of the causeway was a smaller 
basin known as the "George"; these lagoons served 
the canal traffic in the same way the switching yards 
of the railroads that followed . 

The Hill and Orbison Mill on the basin was a 
forerunner of the milling industry that was to develop 
along this block and on eastward. Hill and Orbison 
were followed by the varied enterprises of Solomon 
Bash and his descendants who became prominent 
merchants in the area of grain, seeds, feeds, hides, 
produce and the milling of flour, as represented by 
the Mayflower Mills, the Volland Mills and Wayne 
Feeds . 

Until the early part of the century, the city's 
leading hotels were located on West Columbia, the 
first being the Columbia House, operated for many 
years by Dana Columbia after whom the street was 
named. Hotels that followed in the wake of industry 
were the American House, the Tremont House, Wayne 
Hotel, the Jones Hotel and now the tastefully refitted 
Rosemarie, all on the same site. 

The Franklin House once operated just west of 
the American House, and at the west end of the street 
stood the Brunswick, followed by the Randall Hotel, 
a landmark for many years . All were the result of 
intense business activity along this block. 

Perhaps the first business on West Columbia 
Street was the trading post of Capt. James B. Bourie 
and John B. Peltier in an area northwest of what is 
now Columbia and Calhoun streets . A log structure, 
it was eventually destroyed by fire. Later members 



92 



of the Ewlng family, who developed a fur empire, 
operated a trading center on the site. 

Columbia Street actually terminated at the lobby 
of the Randall Hotel, and beside the Randall, on Pearl 
Street, was located the city's first electric railway 
(interurban) station. 

The first scheduled interurban service was in- 
augurated December 12, 1901, between Fort Wayne 
and Huntington, and shortly afterwards the terminal 
made its appearance on the northwest comer of Pearl 
and Harrison streets. 

The coaches loaded and discharged passengers 
in the street, and the first depot had simple accommo- 
dations --a ticket office, waiting room and an area 
devoted to baggage and express. 

Tracks serving the first terminal were laid on 
Pearl and Harrison streets and along the block of West 
Columbia Street. Cars bound for Kendallville and 
Waterloo were routed east over West Columbia to 
Calhoun Street, north to Superior and west to Wells 
Street. Cars or trains bound for Van Wert, Lima 
and Decatur turned south at Columbia and Calhoun 
streets . 

Thus, West Columbia Street carried an almost 
hourly flow of interurban traffic until the services 
north and into Ohio were discontinued in 1935. 

The railway traffic lessened in 1912 when a 
residence property was converted into an enlarged 
passenger terminal on West Main Street on the present 
site of an auto auction lot. The increasing popularity 
of interurban travel forced the abandonment of the 
Pearl Street terminal after little more than a decade . 

Never was access more convenient to the busi- 
ness life of West Columbia Street than during the era 
of the fast, clean electric car. 



COLUMBIA STREET 
GAVE WORLD A NEW TEXTURE 

While Columbia Street reveled in the traffic of 



93 



the trading area, two men compounded a new texture 
for living in the back room of its original drug store . 

This new leavening agent that tossed pastries to 
the imagination gained such immediate acceptance 
that Columbia Street is not even remembered for it, 
and the names of the inventors barely sift out of 
history. 

Fort Wayne housewives, of course, were the 
first to use this mixture of sodium bicarbonate, starch 
and tartaric acid that added so much to their baking. 
This was about 1867 and the acceptance of the house- 
hold powder here quickly led to the founding of the 
Royal Baking Powder Company in Chicago. 

This now indispensable household product was 
compounded on the site of the present four -story 
building at 506 South Calhoun, at the east end of The 
Landing. In recent years the building has been 
sporadically vacant: the last occupant was the Allen 
Business Machine Company. 

For many years this site on the northwest cor- 
ner of Calhoun and Columbia streets was devoted to 
the drug business --in fact, the city's first drug store 
was established there in 1848 by Colonel Hugh B. 
Reed. It survived a $12, 000 fire that broke out in an 
adjacent business on September 3, 1864 but on June 30 
of 1866 was sold to a pair known only today as Biddle 
and Hoagland from Troy, Ohio. Upon disposing of 
the business. Reed retired. 

It was Biddle and Hoagland who gave baking 
powder to the world. Soon after tests of the product 
in Fort Wayne they opened a branch in Chicago in 1867 
for its manufacture. Hoagland left the firm in 1868 
to devote his full time to the manufacture of Royal 
Baking Powder in Chicago, while Biddle chose to re- 
main here . The Hoagland interests were purchased 
by a Mr. Brandriff, and the firm became known as 
Biddle and Brandriff. 

There is no known record of when Biddle and 
Brandriff ceased operations, but they were succeeded 
on the site by the Dreier Drug Company which had 
been formed in 1866 and was incorporated in 1910 with 
William H. Dreier as president, Charles F. Freese, 



94 



vice-president and Martin F. Scheele, secretary- 
treasurer. 

Freese,who began work on the northwest corner, 
later spent some time in Chicago. Returning to Fort 
Wayne, he became associated with the Meyer Brothers 
Drug Company and in 1900, along with M. F . Scheele, 
bought into the business and leased the Dreier store. 

In 1920, the firm opened another store at 1402 
South Calhoun and the present store moved to the 
southwest corner of Columbia and Calhoun streets. 
There the atmosphere and flavor of the old-fashioned 
ice cream parlor were maintained for many years . 
The business discontinued after the death of Mr. 
Freese. 

Neighboring the birthplace of baking powder, 
108 West Columbia, was the Yankee Grocery, believed 
to have been the city's first general store. It was 
founded by Charles M. Wells, a bachelor, in 1844 
soon after he came to the city from New England. 
Wells, who lived with his sisters, Almira and Ruth at 
Barr and Madison streets, died in 1883. 

This pioneer grocery store gave way to a crock- 
ery and glassware business which had been founded 
on East Main Street by Horatio M. Ward, in the 1870s. 
Ward's unusual advertising gimmick made the store 
known all over the area: it was a life-sized paper - 
mache dog placed in the entranceway with a sign "I 
am Ward's dog, whose dog are you?" Ward sold out 
to M. F. Kaag, and in 1899 the business was destroyed 
by a fire which also ravaged the George DeWald store. 
The paper dog found its way into the Creighton Williams 
family and was moved to Lake Everett, where it 
disappeared. 

The structure at 108 has been sporadically idle 
down through the years: it was occupied successively 
by Altschul Produce, the McCoy Hatchery, dealers 
in Laval equipment and Busco Feeds, and finally as a 
warehouse for the Butler Paper Company. 

A stimulant to Allen County corn production 
existed at number 112 where Frank Alderman operated 
an implement business and offered premiums for high 
com yields. The winner in 1880 was George Ziemer 



95 



of Springfield Township with a yield of 112 bushels. 

Earlier, a harness business was run there by 
Samuel H. Shoaff who came to the city January 21, 1841 
with his bride of five weeks. He later moved to 119 
West Columbia. 

This site also housed a forerunner of the 
Mossman-Yarnelle Company which later grew into a 
new business block on nearby Pearl Street. Marshall 
Coombs, who started an iron, steel and hardware 
business on the southeast corner of Main and Clinton 
streets in 1870, first affiliated with Edward F. Yar- 
nelle, a partnership that existed until 1882 when 
Yarnelle entered partnership with Frank Alderman, 
forming the Alderman-Yarnelle Company. In 1887 
Alderman retired and sold his interest to William E . 
Mossman, and the firm became Mossman-Yarnelle 
Company. This firm absorbed the failing Coombs 
business in 1893 and in 1906, moved into the present 
Pearl Street building. 

In .1894, two days after a total loss fire at La- 
fayette and Brackenridge streets, the Moellering 
Brothers & Millard wholesale grocery firm moved 
into 110 West Columbia and a year later decided to 
remain on Columbia. In 1907 the firm leased the ad- 
joining building, 112 West Columbia as an expansion. 
Meanwhile the firm's original building at Brackenridge 
and Lafayette streets was rebuilt as a warehouse . 
The Moellering Brothers, William and Henry, later 
became involved in a partnership and the firm operated 
as Moellering Brothers & Green until about 1929 when 
it was dissolved. 

The Western Newspaper Union located in the 
building at 110-112 West Columbia in November 1929 
and in 1935 it became the Butler Paper Company. The 
stock of the firm was heavily damaged by a fire on 
October 16, 1941 and in 1965 Butler Paper Company 
moved to its present location on Engle Road. 

Since that time the building has sheltered the 
"Why-Not" tavern which was succeeded for a time by 
Bimbo's of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Currently this his- 
toric site is occupied by The Pickle with a kitchen that 
specializes in luncheons and dinner menus. 



96 



As The Landing, this surviving block of Colum- 
bia Street still follows the traditional pattern of 
variety. 



BASH INFLUENCE STRONG UPON 
A BUSINESS BLOCK 

Much of the development of West Columbia Street 
resulted from various business enterprises of the 
Bash family. 

Though buildings still bear the Bash name, the 
family was not one to parade its genealogy, and so 
chronology of Bash influence upon this original main 
street of the city is not on record. 

Solomon Bash, the first to make an appearance 
in business here, was born in Starke County, Ohio in 
1827, and his first local experience was apparently 
as a clerk in the Hill & Orbison Mill. Charles and 
Willis were other members of the family who engaged 
in milling operations and merchandised in produce, 
wool, furs, hides, pelts, seeds and butter. 

Spaced along the Wabash & Erie Canal water- 
front were a total of six mills. Four of them on the 
south side of the waterway were steam operated. Two 
mills on the north side of the canal were water - 
powered, drawing their water from the canal and 
draining into the St. Mary's River. These were 
French -Hanna & Company east of Barr Street and the 
Tusselt or City Mills at Clinton Street . Later these 
mills were converted to steam. 

At City Mills it was not unusual for farmers 
who arrived late with their grain to sleep overnight 
in the mill offices, waiting for the grain to be pro- 
cessed the first thing in the morning. 

For many years Columbia Street catered to the 
rural people of Allen County and neighboring areas 
and served as a market place for the growing city as 
well. A spin-off from the agricultural trade was the 



97 



Barr Street Farmers Market which operated on adja- 
cent Barr Street for more than 100 years. The mar- 
ket place was abandoned in 1967 and the pillared shel- 
ters subsequently removed. 

A singular development came late in the 19th 
Century that began to change the tempo of business 
along Columibia Street and was responsible for the 
decline of farm markets over much of the country. In 
1880 United States census showed for the first time 
a greater urban than rural population. 

Farm patronage was attracted to Columbia 
Street because of its many saddleries, harness shops, 
smithies, boot and shoe stores, implement and hard- 
ware establishments and a scattering of livery stables 
in the area . 

Saloons were numerous and convenient for all 
traders along the street. They became famous for a 
free counter lunch with the purchase of a five -cent 
glass of beer, a ten-cent slug of aged whiskey or, if 
the patron chose, a boilermaker and helper --a shot 
of whiskey washed down with a glass of beer. There 
were no mixed drinks in that day, only the boiler - 
maker and helper. 

A farmer would bring his cargo to Columbia 
Street, and after it had been sold would attend to 
purchases of supplies for the week or a longer period. 
It was common practice to meet with friends over a 
drink to discuss matters of interest while the wagons 
were being repaired or the horses shod. 

The slowing of farm trade was a factor in the 
gradual decline of the street over a period of thirty 
or forty years. Finally much of Columbia Street was 
devoted to wholesale houses and warehousing with 
scattered service establishments. 

Other factors that brought change to the busi- 
ness complexion were the flexible transportation af- 
forded by the automobile and motor truck and the 
more recent establishment of outlying shopping 
centers . Motor transport relaxed the dependence 
upon railroads with their back door tracks and sidings. 

Merchants could locate at sites of their own 
choosing assured of store -door deliveries. A trend 



98 



toward more modern business accommodations in- 
duced merchants to move away from Columbia Street 
to where off-street space for automobile parking was 
available. 

A facet of the Bash family business history that 
cannot be clarified is that Solomon Bash is known to 
have served as a clerk in the drygoods store of D . N. 
Bash in 1858 at 125 West Columbia. Later he launched 
a wool, hide, fur and seed business with a man named 




North side of the 100 block of 
West Columbia Street 



Eakin at 61 Columbia Street. The firm was known as 
Bash & Eakin, and Solomon established residence at 
242 West Berry. 

Later the firm was reorganized as S. Bash & 
Company with Solomon Bash as president; his partners 
included a son, Charles, P. D. Smyser and a Mr. 
McKinn. Following the death of Solomon Bash the son 
Charles became head of the business. 



99 



Charies Bash was born on a farm near Roanoke 
and in later years became associated with the Sala- 
monie Gas Company; his home on West Wayne Street 
was the first in the city to be heated with natural gas . 

Charles Bash erected the building at 130-32 
West Columbia occupied until recently by the Protec- 
tive Electric Supply Company. What information is 
available on the Bash family was gathered by the late 
Edward Dodez, for many years an active member of 
the Allen County -Fort Wayne Historical Society. 



BUSINESS FIRMS REMIND OF STREET'S 
PAST GLORY 

Two business giants, Fisher Brothers Paper 
Company and Mayflower Mills currently remind 
residents of the one-time importance of Columbia 
Street to the city's development. 

These firms had their origin on the north side 
of the only remaining block of Columbia known as 
The Landing since 1965. Mayflower was an enterprise 
of the progressive Bash family and a general -alarm 
fire that induced the mill to leave West Columbia 
Street provided an opportunity for expansion of the 
paper company. 

An example of the versatility of enterprise on 
Columbia Street, Mayflower developed out of a linseed 
oil mill which in the early 1880s was a scene of a fire 
that threatened to lay waste to West Columbia Street, 
endangering even more of the Bash interests. Joseph 
Hughes and Solomon Bash organized the linseed opera- 
tion at 118-20 West Columbia in the early 1880s and 
the fire, causing damage of $25,000, struck July 16, 
1887. 

Flames threatened the S. Bash & Company pro- 
duce and commission house immediately to the west . 
Rebuilding of the millwas started almost immediately, 
but it never resumed operations --events happened too 
quickly. 



100 



Mayflower Mills, which had been organized in 
1886 by Charles Bash, began operations in 1889 at the 
rebuilt linseed mill building. Actual transfer of the 
structure to Mayflower did not come until March 20, 
1891, and equipment of the linseed mill was shipped to 
Buffalo, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota and 
was absorbed by plants of the National Linseed Oil 
Trust . 

In the space of two years, the Mayflower Mills 
were operating full blast, around the clock. Widely 
known flours of the firm were "Silver Dust" and 
"Silver Dollar" and a cake flour known as "Martha 
Wayne." 

On May 21, 1911 fire revisited the site and this 
second mill was destroyed at $150,000 loss. This 
business interruption, coupled with already cramped 
quarters on Columbia Street, led the milling company 
to its present site on Leesburg Road at the Norfolk & 
Western Railroad. Associated with Mayflower through 
the years were Harry, David, Edward and Robert Bash. 

The paper company actually began with the busi- 
ness partnership of Samuel F.Fisher and Harry Graff e 
March 27, 1882 as Fisher and Graffe. They bought 
out A.M. Webb, a leather goods firm at Berry and 
Clinton streets . Six weeks later MaxB. Fisher pur- 
chased Graffe interests and the firm became Fisher 
Brothers Paper. As the business prospered, several 
moves were made to satisfy expansion, and at the 
time of the Mayflower fire, Fisher Brothers was lo- 
cated at 130-32 West Columbia. 

The brothers immediately purchased the May- 
flower site and constructed a six-story building with 
terra -cotta front, into which the firm moved in 1913. 
They remained at the location until early 1970 when 
the operation was moved to a new 40, 000 square -feet 
warehouse on a 2 1/2 acre site just off theEngle Road 
in the southwestern part of the city. 

For many years the firm has operated Jackson 
Paper at Jackson, Michigan and through the years ac- 
quired Becker Paper Company, Consolidated Paper 
Company, and the Sanitary Supply Sales Company. 

Roger I. Fisher became associated with the 



101 



company on June 20, 1910; his father, Samuel Fisher, 
died in Decem.ber of 1922; Roger's uncle, Edwin, had 
passed away several years earlier, and another uncle. 
Max Fisher, died in 1932. Roger I. Fisher, current 
president of the company, has been associated with 
the firm more than half a century. 

The structure at 114 West Columbia, vacant for 
a number of years, last was occupied by J. W. Bash 
& Company, operating as Wayne Feeds . The first 
business of record in the structure was Frank C. 
Stophlet who went under the firm name of Stophlet 
Brothers home furnishers. A change of the firm 
name came later to Stophlet & Company, and the field 
was changed to public lighting. As agents for the 
Underhill patent lamp, the firm had a contract in 1876 
for lighting the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. This ap- 
parently was a lamp using gas, for electric arc light- 
ing was not introduced until 1878, and electrical public 
lighting did not become general until the early 20th 
Century . 

Later the building was occupied by the Vollard 
Mills, an enterprise of Fred and Otto Vollard and 
subsequently the Wayne -Bash -Seed Company. 

Another vacant structure at 116 West Columbia 
was erected by the F. H. George Company, processors 
and dealers in dairy products . The butter of this firm 
carried the brand name of "Rosemary" and became 
widely known in the Fort Wayne area. 

A preceding building on this site was occupied 
by W. B. Smith tobacco merchants; Fred Weikel, a 
well driller and dealer in water pumps, also occupied 
this earlier site for many years . 



FIRST LODGE, NEWSPAPER CHOSE 
SITES ON LANDING 

A vintage ice cream parlor and country candy 
store, which cater to those with a sweet tooth on The 
Landing in 19th Century fashion, stand on the site of 



102 



the city's first Masonic Lodge building which later 
was occupied by Fort Wayne's first newspaper. The 
present four-story building was built about 1880 by 
S. Bash & Company and bears the numbers 122-24. 




The first fraternal order chartered in north- 
eastern Indiana was Wayne Lodge No. 25, Free and 
Accepted Masons, and the installation was conducted 
November 10, 1823 in the old fort, abandoned as a 
military post several years earlier. 



103 



Meeting places for such organizations and other 
groups were at a premium at the time; aside from 
several taverns the only other available space was 
provided by the old County Seminary on the west side 
of Calhoun north of Superior Street then known as 
Water Street because of its proximity to the Wabash 
& Erie Canal. John P. Hedges was the first school- 
master there, and when his classes were not in ses- 
sion, the school was used for church and political 
meetings. Wayne Lodge divided its meetings between 
the Seminary and the first court house . 

Tiring of the uncertainties posed by temporary 
quarters, members of Wayne Lodge launched plans 
for their own lodge home in 1825, but it was four 
years before the organization could arrange for the 
purchase of a lot from John T.Barr, John McCorkle and 
Joseph Holman at what is now 122-24 West Columbia. 
A two -story building was erected on the site and used 
by the lodge for its meetings . 

Financial difficulties forced the sale of the lot 
and building on June 3, 1833 to Holman, Richard L, 
Britton, Francis Comparet, Alexis Coquillard and 
Hugh Hanna. The stipulation was only $1,328. 

Until 1880, when the first temple was erected 
on the northeast corner of Wayne and Clinton streets, 
Wayne Lodge conducted its meetings at various places, 
including Kaiser's Hall, Stewart's Hall, the McDougal 
Building and a hall over the Post Office building on 
Court Street. The present Masonic Temple on East 
Washington Boulevard was dedicated in 1926. Vaca- 
tion of the first lodge building might have hurried a 
movement for the establishment of the city's first 
newspaper. Henry Rudisill, wealthy miller, is 
identified as a spokesman in negotiations with two 
Indianapolis men, S. V. B. Noel and Thomas Tigar to 
come here and publish a newspaper. 

Rudisill and his associates offered $500 for the 
purchase of a press, which was to become a property 
of the backers, if the newspaper did not pay off the 
sum after a year. Tigar and Noel declined the loan 
and managed to get their own equipment together; 
their printing equipment was a Washington hand press 



104 



formerly used to publish the Indiana State Journal at 
Indianapolis . 

A wagon train brought the appurtenances of the 
first newspaper to Fort Wayne --a hazardous venture 
over muddy roads requiring six days. The press and 
office equipment were installed in the former lodge 
building and the first newspaper became The Sentinel, 
a label that has remained since that time^ 

The first issue of The Sentinel went on the 
streets July 6, 1833 and prominently reprinted the 
Declaration of Independence . The first local story 
was a report of the Independence Day celebration 
which had occurred two days earlier. 

Editor Tigar, was a native of Yorkshire, Eng- 
land and a forceful writer. A Democrat politically, 
he remained editor of The Sentinel until 1865. His 
death occurred ten years later at the age of sixty - 
seven. 

In later years The Sentinel was merged with the 
Fort Wayne News and became the Fort Wayne News - 
Sentinel . The merged newspapers once occupied a 
building at 114 West Wayne and later established a 
plant at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Barr 
Street, now the Foellinger Center. 

After the newspaper era, the Masonic building 
was occupied for a time by Solomon S.Smick, a dealer 
in farm machinery. Forced into bankruptcy, Smick 
assigned his real estate and personal property, 
amounting to $46, 048 to creditors on January 3, 1876 . 

S. Bash & Company, replaced the Masonic build- 
ing with its present four -story structure which in 1887 
was heavily damaged by a fire which gutted the ad- 
joining linseed oil mill controlled by the Bash family. 
For many years after it was repaired, the Bash 
interests used the structure for warehousing, and a 
portion of it was later occupied by Bell's Five- And - 
Ten Cent Store. 

About 1940 the long-established Meyers Brothers 
Drug Company moved its general offices into the 
structure and used the excess space for warehousing. 
Meyers later moved offices to the eastern section of 
the city. 



105 



During the development of The Landing as a 
practical shrine to the canal era in Fort Wayne the 
street floor of the structure was outfitted as Ma and 
Pa's Candy Store and the Old Ice Cream Parlor, both 
preserving the tastes and atmosphere of the 19th Cent- 
ury. Both are operated by Edward Collins as unique 
features of The Landing development. 



BASIN SITE BECAME MANUFACTURING HUB 

The northeast corner of Columbia and Harrison 
streets has been significant both to the development of 
transportation and the growth of the city. 

The site was once part of the Orbison Basin of 
the Wabash & Erie Canal. This 80 by 110 foot pool 
enabled canalboats to turn around and gave access to 
the Hill & Orbison Mill, one of Indiana's largest dur- 
ing the waterway boom. The building itself was used 
for many years by the Protective Electric Supply Com- 
pany. 

In 1876 the Orbison Basin was filled in and real 
estate plans developed. These plans were abandoned 
when the canal right-of-way was sold to the New York, 
Chicago and St. Louis Railroad on February 12, 1881. 
And so the Norfolk & Western (formerly Nickel Plate) 
still follows the route of the waterway through the city. 

Alexander M. Orbison and John E. Hill, as 
partners in a commission business offering grain, 
hides, wool, seeds and other products, established 
themselves on the rim of the basin and subsequently 
became wealthy. Orbison was one of the incorpora- 
tors of Lindenwood Cemetery and was deeply involved 
in work of the Fort Wayne Relief Society. The mill, 
established in 1846, died with the Canal and Orbison 
operated briefly in the 200 block of East Columbia 
Street before moving his interests toSturgis, Michigan. 

A few years after the basin was filled Charles 
Bash began the construction of a two -level stretch of 
buildings extending for 120 feet along West Columbia 



106 



Street and stretching 110 feet back to the canal docks . 
The center section of the building was built six stories 
high with adjoining wings of four stories each and are 
part of Fort Wayne's historic Landing. 




This is the Bash Block taken about 1897 showing the 
four-story east and west portions of the building and 
the six-story center section. This building involved 
numbers 126 to 136 West Columbia Street. Built by 
Charles Bash in the 1880s. 



The Bash interests retained use of the eastern 
wing for many years, and when they suspended busi- 
ness, Standard Oil established local offices there. In 
1918 the oil suppliers offices were moved to the bulk 
plant on the Leesburg Road. Subsequently Meyer 



107 



Brothers Drug used the premises for warehousing, 
and the last occupant was Frank's appliance division. 

Bash erected the central building specifically 
for the use of A. L. John & Company, manufacturer of 
fine harness on the fifth and sixth floors. Windows on 
the four sides gave ample light for the work. The 
firm used the lower floors for warehousing and re- 
tailing. At the time it was the oldest and largest har- 
ness firm in the state. 

Besides an extensive line of buggy, driving and 
team harness the firm was involved in saddlery, hard- 
ware, whips, collars, fly nets, lap robes, leather 
dressings and even axle grease. 

After the harness firm suspended business, the 
central portion was occupied by Fisher Brothers Paper 
until the Mayflower Mill fire of 1911, when they pur- 
chased the site and in 1913 moved into a newer build- 
ing at that address, 118-120 West Columbia Street. 

A firm of wide reputation followed Fisher Broth- 
ers into the building- -the Protective Electric Supply 
Company. Back in 1906 M. B. Larimer perfected a 
lightning arrestor and protective device marketed as 
the "Protective Can Top Cable Terminator, " and with 
E. M. Popp formed a company to manufacture the 
device. Both men formerly were associated with 
Home Telephone & Telegraph and most of their busi- 
ness was absorbed by the telephone company. 

The first site of the company was on Clinton 
Street, but larger quarters were needed in a few years, 
and it moved to West Columbia Street across the street 
from the former Bash Building. Five years later they 
moved into the Bash property. Protective soon branch- 
ed into other electrical equipment including radios . 

Officers of the company before business was 
suspended in 1967 were Milton B. Larimer, chairman 
of the board; Thomas G. Popp, president and Herbert 
W. Henline, treasurer. 

The west section of the Bash Building, numbered 
134-36, was used for many years by the H. W. Skelton 
Wholesale Grocery, a firm that was succeeded by 
Beyer Grocery. Finally, the west portion was ab- 
sorbed by the Protective Electric Supply Company. 



108 



CANAL SKIPPER'S LEGACY WAS 
LASTING HOTEL SITE 

What Dana Columbia really meant to the early 
community has become a vague subject, but he chose 
a hotel site that remained true to purpose for nearly 
140 years. 

A unique hotel property on The Landing, called 
the Rosemarie,is a former canalboat captain's legacy 
to the modern weary. Seven hotels as distinguished 
by changes of management have occupied four different 
buildings on this same stretch of earth except for the 
brief interlude after a devastating fire in 1867. 

Entrenched perhaps more than ever in Victorian 
atmosphere, the name Rosemarie might not have 
served the hostelry so well in years past. The flower- 
ing years knew it as the American, the Tremont and 
the Wayne Hotel. The widely respected Jasper (Jap) 
Jones acquired the hotel property in the early 1930s 
and restored much of its lost magnetism . During his 
regime it was the Jones Hotel. 

Refurnished recently as the Rosemarie, the 
ninety -five room hotel has regained its old charm in a 
downtown area that has been reserved for 19th Century 
ways . 

In 1831 Dana Columbia built a log hotel there 
and named it the Columbia House. Five years later 
during the country's first financial panic Columbia 
House was replaced by the American House; Joseph 
Morgan was the financier during this unseeming time 
for investment, and the property later was operated 
by Francis Comparet. 

Presumably the panic changed the course of 
Columbia's career, but his hotel site has remained 
down to the present . 

For thirty-one years the American House served 
the growing public needs in Fort Wayne, and then it 
was destroyed by fire --the final proprietors were a 
Mr. Butt and F. F. Dean. 

In structure the Rosemarie dates back to 1868 
when the New American House, a three -story brick, 
replaced the ruins of the frame American House. The 



109 



new hotel opened March 5 of that year with J . C . Hursh 
as manager. Later, he was replaced by Colonel 
Chauncey B. Oakley. Bernard H. Schneiders became 
owner of the hotel property on September 6, 1876, and 
Oakley retired from the hotel business. 

Less than a year later, March 8, 1877, the 
hotel's name was changed toTremont House and C . C . 
Fletcher simultaneously assumed management. The 
record indicates a declining period for the hotel which 
ended abruptly on December 7, 1887, with its purchase 
by John C. Peters, the grandfather of actress Carole 
Lombard. There followed a renovation of the property 
which included the addition of a fourth floor. 

There was a refreshment of management, too-- 
Peters leased the hotel under improvement to Captain 
Henry McKinnie, a hotel man of wide experience, and 
his son, William, for a period of ten years . The 
name was changed too, and the Tremont opened for 
business February 1, 1888 as the Wayne Hotel. 

The Wayne Hotel Annex begun March 12, 1889 
and completed the following year made up the present 
facade of the Rosemarie and added 20 per cent to the 
hotel capacity. The building was enlarged eastward. 
Now, the locally famous old hotel was ready for the 
gay 90s! 

The reign of Wayne Hotel in Fort Wayne and the 
Midwest is bracketed between the year 1909 and 1930. 
As Fort Wayne's leading hotel of the period, its serv- 
ice and cuisine was unequalled in the Midwest. Its 
register carried the names of the country's leaders 
in the fields of industry, politics, entertainment and 
the sciences. It played host to three presidents: 
Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield and Benjamin 
Harrison and other national figures . 

On October 21, 1896 presidential candidate 
William Jennings Bryan spoke from the marquee of the 
Wayne Hotel. His audience on the street was so dense 
that a number of store windows around the hotel were 
shattered by the press of humanity. After the speech, 
Mr. Bryan was hosted by R. C. Bell at his home on 
West Wayne Street, the present Klaehn Funeral Home . 

The parlors of the Wayne became a mecca for 



110 



innovations and public gatherings. The first "writing 
telegraph" - -a forerunner of the modern teletype- -was 
exhibited and experimented within the lobby of the 
hotel. The machine attracted a distinguished gather- 
ing of electricians, scientists and telegraphers to the 
city in April, 1891. 

A Century Commercial Club which later devel- 
oped into the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce was 
organized at the Wayne Hotel February 16, 1895 when 
articles of agreement were signed by forty-five prom- 
inent businessmen. Mayor Charles F. Muhler was 
named president after Louis Fox declined the nomina- 
tion. 

On December 29, 1899 the Wayne Hotel Barber 
Shop had installed the first hydraulic barber chair 
used in the city. 

At the termination of the McKinnie lease, Peters 
negotiated with William McKinnie for purchase of the 
hotel furnishings. The hotel was closed by this devel- 
opment between January 4 and 10, 1898. The elder 
McKinnie, who came to Fort Wayne after the close of 
the Civil War, died October 1, 1899 at the age of 
seventy -seven. While in Fort Wayne he also estab- 
lished McKinnie House, a hotel operated in conjunc- 
tion with the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station which 
once stood between Clinton and Calhoun streets. 

Various improvements were made to the hotel 
in November, 1899 including the installation of its 
own electric plant. In June, 1901 there was a $25, 000 
fire loss at the hotel- -thirty -five guests were evac- 
uated without incident. 

A. W. McClure sold a half interest in the hotel 
property to Charles E . Young of Swannanoa, North 
Carolina on April 3, 1905. A few days later the North 
Carolina man filed a legal action charging misrepre- 
sentation. 

The city's growth to the south put the Wayne 
Hotel off the beaten path early in the century, partic- 
ularly with construction of the Anthony Hotel in 1909 
and the Keenan in 1923. The Wayne began to lose 
the interest of community gatherings which patronized 
newer accommodations . 



HI 



This decline was arrested in the early 1930s 
under the Jones management, and through services and 
remodeling Jap managed to restore a portion of the 
hostelry's old popularity. However, it was patronized 
largely by the retired and people of moderate income. 

On New Year's Day, 1967 the venerable hotel 
began a new era under the ownership of Mr . and Mrs . 
John E. Arnold and Lenna Belle Arnold operating as 
the Jems Realty Corporation. They negotiated the 
purchase of the property from Mrs. Hazel Jones, 
widow of the former owner. 

In deference to the atmosphere of The Landing 
and its offering of old elegance to the modern world, 
the hotel name was changed to Rosemarie. 

The old charm of the hotel is being preserved 
to fit this 19th Century capsule of downtown Fort 
Wayne- -The Landing development. There are such 
eyepieces as a base -burner stove, kerosene lamps and 
other conveniences of yesterday . 

Untouched are the marble staircases of the hotel, 
the rich mosaic floors and the stained and bevel-glass 
windows. Many of the hotel's ninety-five rooms have 
been redecorated and furnished in period, an enchant- 
ing contrast to the patterns of today. 

The Rosemarie had entered a new era after 
reaching deeply into the gracious facets of the past to 
keep company with The Landing- -a soft light refuge 
that compliments both yesterday and today. 



THE LANDING'S GROWTH DATED 
BY PHOTOGRAPH 

For hindsight on the one block of once arterial 
Columbia Street to survive redevelopment the archives 
are indebted to the whim of an early artist, John H . 
Dille,who photographed in 1865 what is now The Land- 
ing from a perch high on the old brick court house . 

This view establishes that much of the develop- 
ment of this business block began after the Civil War, 



112 



probably in the 1870s. The only portion of the 100 
block of We St Columbia Street that has been consistent- 
ly occupied through the years since 1831 is the Rose- 
marie Hotel. 

Perhaps the first structure erected in this sec- 
tion after the Civil War was the Keystone Block at the 
southwest corner of Calhoun and Columbia streets, 
one of the largest to be built up to that time and the 
first in the city to be equipped with running water and 
central heating. 

On an upper floor were the offices of a respected 
dentist, Dr. Isaac Knapp, and the street floor once 
housed a famous variety store founded by James 
"Jimmie" Kane. It featured display cases onthe side- 
walks! 

The Dille photograph shows only the American 
House hotel (predecessor of the Rosemarie) and im- 
mediately to the west a federal-type structure believed 
to have been the old Franklin House. Neighboring 
Franklin House on the west was a two -story frame 
structure, painted white in which the artist maintained 
a studio and completed his first painting in 1852. Be- 
tween this building and Harrison Street was a shed- 
like structure, its frame considerably weathered and 
possibly occupied by the Fry tannery. If so, it en- 
joyed a certain isolation. 

The Keystone Building held a business popularity 
from the start, and one of the early occupants was the 
Taylor and Freeman Drygoods Company. This firm 
was succeeded on March 15, 1866 by the Nirdlinger & 
Oppenheimer Drygoods firm; Nirdlinger served on the 
City Council in 1853 and 1865. He died in 1873, leav- 
ing an estate of $150, 000. 

William H. Hahn founded the Boston Store in 
1886 and commenced business in the Keystone Building 
at 606 on the South Calhoun site; the building was an 
"L" fronting on both Calhoun and Columbia streets. 
In the early 1900s the Boston Store moved to 620 South 
Calhoun but returned to the original location in a few 
years . 

The Boston Store was sold to J. L. Goldman who 
in 1932 moved the business southward, following busi- 



113 



ness trend, to 110 East Berry. At this time the store 
was under the management of Myron Goldman. 

The James M. Kane & Son Variety Store on the 
corner was operated prior to 1910; the proprietor died 
on July 9 of that year. 

More recent occupants of the Keystone Building 
have been Sigrist Furniture and Sheray Furniture. 

Before the Keystone Block joined the downtown 
scene, Freeman P. Tinkham operated a cabinet shop 
at what is now 109 West Columbia. Apparently no 
records exist on this operation. 

Prior to establishment of the Rosemarie Hotel 
Annex (originally known as the Wayne Hotel Annex) at 
111 West Columbia, the site was occupied by the 
Leichner saloon. Upon his retirement in 1872 the 
structure was connected to a billiard hall, and later 
the building was occupied by the Goodman Saloon. A 
succeeding tenant was the DuWan Sign Company, later 
the Jones Hotel snack shop and currently Johnny's Gold 
Mine. 

Immediately west of the Rosemarie, bearing the 
street number 123, was the site of another hostelry 
known as the Franklin House, operated for years by 
Mills and Taylor. Some believe this building was 
originally the homesite of Francis Comparet, wealthy 
Fort Wayne business pioneer who built a home on the 
street in 1835. Others think it was located between 
Calhoun and Clinton streets. 

There have been buildings on this site since 
Franklin House, and the earliest known business op- 
eration there was Paul's Grocery. 

Five years after it was organized March 24, 1902 
with capitalization of $100, 000 the Wayne Shoe Com- 
pany was moved to Number 123 from leased quarters 
at Pearl and Harrison streets. William F. Moeller- 
ing, heading the firm, planned the eventual employ- 
ment of 200 persons in the business. On February 9, 
1909 the stock was destroyed by a $75, 000 fire and 
the site was absorbed by Protective Electric which in 
1912 moved across the street to 130-32 West Colum- 
bia. 

In 1910 a firm came to 123 that eventually be- 



114 



came an international household word- -the Pinex 
Company. The founder of the firm was William H. 
Noll, and it produced a variety of products, notably 
Pinex, a cough syrup that served as a popular remedy 
for many years in American and Canadian homes . 

Ten years ago Pinex was sold to Revlon of New 
York and became a part of Revlon' s wholly -owned 
Thayer Laboratories with Bernard T. Kearns as local 
manager , Later, Revlon withdrew holdings from Fort 
Wayne, and the property is now occupied by the Beauty 
Supply Company. 




South side of 100 block West Columbia looking east 
from Harrison Street. 



During the busiest years the Pinex Company 
purchased the adjoining building. Number 125, from 
the Borgmann trucking interests and interconnected 
the two buildings for its own use. This gave the firm a 
total frontage of forty feet on Columbia Street . 

What prompted artist Dille to sight his camera 
upon West Columbia Street is something that has been 



115 



erased by the years. There may be a hidden signifi- 
cance in the picture besides a clue to the business life 
of the street. 

It shows the present Landing in a straggly phase 
of growth --perhaps dormant from the exhausting 
strain of the Civil War. K this is so, The Landing, 
preserved as a section of old Fort Wayne, also re- 
flects the return of a warweary city to constructive 
enterprise. 



SPICY THEATER CLOSED IN MORE 
PURITAN ERA 

When buttonholes were effective holds upon 
government function, G. G. Grady's Variety Theater 
at 127 West Columbia appealed to unimaginative audi- 
ences for the short span of five months and then was 
closed as "Fort Wayne's biggest nuisance." 

Mr. Grady likely was in business for several 
months before the community became fully aware of 
what was going on. His Variety Show deserves men- 
tion because on November 18, 1872 it probably became 
the first tenant at Number 127 on The Landing. It's 
short span of activity attests to the effectiveness of 
the public's buttonhole lobby late in the 19th Century. 

Today, Variety Theater likely would be laughed 
out of business in a much shorter time. For the rec- 
ord, it closed its doors April 18, 1873 and all refer- 
ences on the nature of the shows presented there have 
been expunged by public disdain. 

Charles W. Getz, who came to Fort Wayne in 
1877 and established a brickyard on the Illinois Road, 
later formed a partnership with Charles Orr and es- 
tablished a grocery business there which continued 
until shortly after the death of Mr. Getz in 1942. 

Next door, at 129, Louis Schroeder operated a 
saloon for many years until the Gutermuth Bakery 
occupied the premises. The Gutermuths operated a 
restaurant along with the Bakery which became widely 



116 



known in the Fort Wayne area and a mecca for the 
weekend farmer trade . Each table in the restaurant 
was supplied with a fresh loaf of bread on a board so 
patrons could slice off what they wished. 

Once separate buildings, 127 and 129were inter- 
connected during the tenancy of Daniel Brothers, a 
Columbia City meat firm. Daniels were the last oc- 
cupants of the building, presently vacant. 

The Louis Blase Grocery and Bakery was the 
first known occupant of the building at 131 West Co- 
lumbia Street . The bakery was followed by the Joseph 
Sampson Barber Shop. Saloonkeeper Charles Uplegger 
was a later tenant and the 131 Club was being operated 
there when a fire damaged the structure, injuring 
several rooming house tenants on the upper floors . 
The building is now occupied by Hancock Imports . 

A shoemaker, George Nill, was the first known 
occupant at 133 West Columbia, and he was succeeded 
there by Henry Nill, a dealer in boots and shoes. 
Succeeding occupants were the Dixie Lunch, the Stephan 
Candy & Tobacco and the C. P. Marshall Company. 

In 1965 the renovated premises became The 
Caboose, a tavern of vintage railway decor which 
became the first business in the redevelopment of the 
block as The Landing. Since then. The Caboose has 
become part of The Big Wheel tavern, a museum of 
Fort Wayne artifacts at Number 135 on the southeast 
corner of Columbia and Harrison streets . 

Buildings occupied by The Caboose and The Big 
Wheel are estimated to be more than 100 years old-- 
the corner restaurant and tavern formerly was the 
site of the Paige & Fry Tannery which some time after 
1865 moved to the west side of the city near the old 
canal aqueduct which stretched across the St. Mary's 
River at approximately the present location of the 
Norfolk & Western railroad bridge . 

Several grocers, William Shoppman and W. H. 
Hasket occupied the present site of The Big Wheel, 
and later Teresa Bouse operated a dressmaking shop 
there . For about a half century after that, the build- 
ing consistently was occupied by taverns under var- 
ious owners, the last being the Har-Col Lunch. 



117 



The remodeling of the comer structure was an 
extensive process of historical research and crafts- 
manship. 

Before the building of the present tavern com- 
plex existed, there was a strange assortment of busi- 
nesses, according to information gained by Mrs . J . 
Howard Wilkens, Fort Wayne genealogist. In 1836 
Peter Kiser bravely operated a butcher shop between 
the odorous tannery on the corner and Henry Strong's 
leather shop. Across the street was the Bash ware- 
house . 

Before the Pinex Company made the city inter- 
nationally known in the way of nostrums at 125 West 
Columbia, this structure was the home of the William 
Pratt Seed Company. Pratt was one of the directors 
of the Indiana State Prison, a responsibility that then 
required monthly inspections of the penal institution. 
The tenure of this firm began between 1870-75, and 
early in the 1880s the structure was used by the 
McComb Hardware, a predecessor of Mossman- 
Yarnelle . 

The Claussmeier and Archer Implement shop 
was the next tenant, and this firm sold the property 
to Brown Trucking on January 16, 1905. William 
Brown, the founder, was the son of John Brown an early 
blacksmith who came to the city in 1825. 

In 1898 William Borgmann resigned as the 
captain of police and with John Kelker purchased the 
trucking firm. On July 6, 1906 the firm purchased 
the Fort Wayne Transfer Company and the following 
September sold the transfer business to A.G. Barnett. 
After the death of Captain Borgmann in 1905 the truck- 
ing firm was assumed by Clifford and Walter Borg- 
mann. 

The trucking firm moved to 3 18 -20 East Douglas 
Avenue after the sale of the Columbia Street building 
to Pinex in April, 1937. 

Variety Theater's brief existence on what was 
to become The Landing points up how history can seri- 
ously fault --there is no record of what the perform- 
ances were like to serve as a comparison of standards 
and method today when the city of Fort Wayne is 



118 



rebelling against a profusion of smut. 

It was a community experience wasted 



HOTEL MANAGER'S FAMILY KEPT 
THE PIPES FLOWING 

No one could appreciate the luxury of running 
water more than the Buckles boys whose lot it was 
many years ago to help keep the taps running in the 
old Robinson House, best remembered today as the 
Randall Hotel. It stood at Harrison and Columbia 
streets. 

Their father was J. H. Buckles, first proprietor 
of the hotel, which for more than a century stared 
from many windows downthe length of Columbia Street , 




Randall Hotel facing east on Harrison Street 



119 



The Randall, known successively as the Robinson 
House, Grand Hotel and Brunswick House, finally at- 
tained eminence as the "best $2.00 hotel in Indiana," 
and the strong backs of the Buckles brothers (conveni- 
ently there were four) were undeniably helpful . 

When the water level of the nearby Wabash and 
Erie Canal was too low to power a hydraulic ram 
(which was often) the Buckles pumped water from the 
wells in the basement to a reservoir on the roof which 
served a single tap on each floor. Water was carried 
in pails to the rooms but even so this was a convenience 
that endeared the hotel to the trade . Buckles made 
ice water available to his guests, too. 

Manager Buckles might have been a severe 
father, but he appreciated the efforts of his sons: he 
did his best to persuade the city to convert the feeder 
canal into a city waterworks . It could have been had 
for $250, 000 from downtown six miles up the St .Joseph 
River to the feeder dam. 

The late Winifred Randall, at one time the coun- 
try's only feminine lumber buyer, was the life of the 
old hotel in its declining years. She died March 11, 
1963 and two years later the building was razed and 
the site became a parking lot. 

Besides running water the hostelry in early days 
had its own sawmill for cutting up firewood and a 
horse -powered elevator; all were innovations. 

There was even hope the Randall could remain 
as a familiar backdrop for The Landing. For many 
years it had been maintained as a residential hotel by 
Mrs. Randall. Her husband, the late Perry A. Randall, 
had bought the property in 1889. 

What was to be one of the state's leading hotels 
started as a three -story brick granary and tannery, 
built in February, 1856 by James H. Robinson. He 
opened a boot store on the first floor and later a tan- 
nery in the basement. 

In earlier days an upper floor was occupied by 
a sporting organization of young people who called 
themselves the IKZ's. Often they dropped initiates 
through a trap door into the George's Basin of the old 
canal. But first they were roped around the waist so 



120 



they could be drawn out to safety. 

The IKZ's also held bizarre parades, carrying 
candidates and human skeletons in coffins through the 
downtown district . 

Buckles leased the property late in 1871 and 
converted it into a hotel. There was a dining room, 
a laundry in the basement, and the kitchen occupied a 
two-story building at the rear. 

Coal was not generally used in the community, 
and the hotel was heated entirely by wood stoves. 
Only a few of them, however, were installed in the 
rooms, the majority were in the hallways. Thus, it 
became an expedient to set up a treadmill in a large 
room of the building on which usually two horses fur- 
nished the power for sawing up lumber into stove -size 
lengths. Sometimes three boatloads of wood were 
required to heat the hotel for a winter. One morning 
in the dead of winter a guest appeared at the desk with 
his beard a solid mass of frost. He had slept com- 
fortably, but his breath had frozen among the whisk- 
ers. The hotel once weathered 28 degrees below zero. 

A horse harnessed to a windlass also supplied 
power for the hotel's elevator. Later, hydraulic 
power was applied to this passenger lift. 

Mrs. Mary C. Robinson, wife of the builder and 
a son, Henry H., eventually became owners of the 
hotel property. On May 17, 1876 the name of the 
hotel was changed to Grand Hotel, and during Buckles' 
tenure as manager it became theatrical headquarters 
for Colerick Hall. 

Grand Hotel was operated as a Methodist Hotel, 
no drinking and no dancing. Benjamin Harrison was 
a guest at the hotel during his campaign for governor 
of Indiana, and the house always sheltered Buffalo Bill 
during his several appearances at Colerick' s. 

These distinguished guests provided rewarding 
experiences for the Buckles brothers. William P. 
recalled delivering a wash bucket and clothing to 
Colerick Hall to be used as "props" for a stage show; 
he and two brothers stayed to watch Joe Jefferson play 
Rip Van Winkle. 

Numerous theatricals appeared at Colerick Hall, 



121 



and some stock companies stayed for the season, of- 
fering such productions as East Lynne, Uncle Tom's 
Cabin, Ten Nights in a Bar Room and others . 

In 1881 a 24 -foot section was added to the 
north end of the hotel building. The Buckles tenure 
as manager had ended by 1888, and under a new lease 
the name of the hotel was changed to Brunswick but 
only briefly. Attorney Randall purchased the hotel 
building from Mrs. Robinson and her son for $45, 000 
in 1889. 

Formal opening of the hotel under the Randall 
ownership came on May 23, 1890, and it soon became 
a popular meeting place for community groups, in- 
cluding the monthly round table of the ministerial as- 
sociation. The first annual meeting of the National 
Cribbage Association was held there November 17, 
1892. 

Randall added a 3 5 -foot veranda to the main 
entrance of the hotel in 1891, and in 1894 the hotel 
installed its own electric plant . On Thanksgiving of 
that year more than 400 guests attended the annual 
game dinner in the hotel dining room featuring a wide 
selection of wild game and fowl on the menu . 

Dick Townsend, who had become manager of the 
Randall in 1890, disposed of his lease and furnishings 
in 1899 to Frank W. Beard of Chicago and Joseph W. 
Irwin of Little Rock, Arkansas, both experienced 
hotel men. The consideration was $19,300 and the 
new lease was for a period of fifteen years. Townsend 
subsequently leased the St. Charles Hotel in Toledo. 

Another remodeling program had been conducted 
at the hotel in 1897, and at that time Randall announced 
that a fifty-room addition was to come later. 

This enlargement of the hotel was hurried by a 
$90,000 fire, October 28, 1904 that destroyed an ad- 
jacent building at 608-10 South Harrison and heavily 
damaged the Randall. Randall immediately made 
plans to rebuild the damaged section and add two 
floors, making a building of five stories. 

Of all the competitive ventures at the Randall, 
the one which brought its greatest popularity was a 
change from American to European plan on June 19, 



122 



1907 under the managership of Frank E. Purrell. This 
change of program kept the hotel filled to capacity for 
a number of years afterward, and it was during this 
period it became known as the best $2.00 hotel in In- 
diana --a substantial rate for the time. 

The city had been growing up around the Randall 
and newer hotels made their appearance downtown- - 
the Anthony, Hotel Keenan and the Indiana, Usage of 
the Randall changed, and finally it became a place for 
residential occupancy. 

Mr. Randall died on February 1, 1916 and was 
buried in Noble County, Mrs. Randall remained close 
to the hotel business until the time of her death. She 
had been active in the lumber industry at a time before 
hardwoods were replaced in various areas of use by 
steel . 

Unfortunately, the Randall Hotel was not destined 
to remain with The Landing, but many of its treasures 
were salvaged as it left the downtown scene . 

Fromi aching-back plumbing through the Euro- 
pean plan, it survived an amazing span of hotel devel- 
opment . 



END OF COLUMBIA STREET: BUT THE LANDING 
REFLECTS ITS OLD GLORY 

Change began to creep along Columbia Street 
early in the 20th Century, like age upon a dowager, 
and after the close of World War II a dissipation of 
interests that had once attracted the Tri -State area 
moved the thoroughfare rapidly into the area of re- 
development. 

Buildings were requisitioned by progress and 
leveled. An area bounded by Clinton, Lafayette and 
Main streets and the Norfolk & Western Railroad was 
earmarked for the Fort Wayne Fine Arts complex. 
The block bounded by Calhoun, Clinton and Main streets 
and the railroad was chosen as the site of the City- 
County Building. 



123 



On August 11, 1970 it was proposed to develop 
a six acre formal park in the tract just east of the 
City-County Building in memory of Frank Freimann, 
late president of The Magnavox Company. 

All that is left of once-teeming Columbia Street, 
the city's main business artery for many years, is its 
block -long western terminus that has been adopted by 
Urban Redevelopment as The Landing- -an area once 
distinguished by the canal docks . 

Until 1963 this nostalgic stretch of the old city 
had been eyed as a parking area to serve government 
and the fine arts. Late in that year, an interest 
developed in the preservation of the 100 block of West 
Columbia Street. 

This awakening of civic interest was stimulated 
the following year when eighteen junior and senior 
architectural students of the University of Notre Dame 
chose this section as a field restoration project. They 
began their work April 30 under the direction of Dr. 
Robert Schlutz of the university school of architecture, 
Mrs . Thomas (Jane) Dustin and Mrs . R . Gerald 
McMurtry of Fort Wayne. 

With their research and sketching, the students 
actually accomplished a transformation of the fading 
business block --they were catalysts for what was to 
follow. 

Mayor Harold S. Zeis, a student of history, 
named a Mayor's Commission for the Preservation 
and Restoration of Historic Landmarks on August 10, 
1964: Mrs. Edward (Joan) White was named chairman 
and her original co-workers were Mrs. Dustin, 
secretary; Roy M. Bates, city and county historian; 
George Bradley; Daniel Reibel, then director of the 
historical museum; Mrs. S. C. Snyderman; Rex M. 
Potterf, now city librarian emeritus and Edward C . 
Dodez, now deceased. Appointed consultants to the 
Commission, were James R. Fleming, president and 
publisher of the Journal -Gazette and Fred Reynolds, 
chief librarian of the Fort Wayne and Allen County 
Public Library. 

The western block of Columbia Street came of- 
ficially to the attention of city councilmen the evening 



124 



of March 23, 1965. They suspended rules to set aside 
the old business block as an historical project and 
passed an ordinance removing parking from both sides 
of the street. It was to be called "The Landing" be- 
cause of its old association with the canal docks. 




The Landing from the southwest corner of Columbia 
and Calhoun streets looking west. Photographed 1966 
by George Craighead. 



Physical transformation of The Landing began 
on April 12 of that year with the installation of eighteen 
gas lights and the planting of trees. Sidewalks were 
extended and the street narrowed to twenty-eight feet. 
Building fronts were restored and redecorated and 
landscaping was added . 

The development and dedication of The Landing 
was managed by Canal Days, Inc., a non-profit or- 
ganization of historical interests. The membership 
drive of the corporation was directed by David L. 
Hughes; Mrs. Ruth Whearley was publicity chairman, 
Mrs. R. Gerald McMurtry corresponding secretary 
and Robert Kigar co-chairman. 



125 



The first of the gas lamps was presented to The 
Landing Project by the Fort Wayne Newcomers Club 
with Mrs. Jack Walter, president, directing the cere- 
mony. Also participating were Mrs. Carson Noecker, 
treasurer of the club, Robert Kigar, member of Canal 
Days, Inc., and Harley Jensen, division manager of 
the Northern Indiana Public Service Company which 
furnished the labor and materials for the lighting 
installations. 

Development of The Landing then proceeded 
rapidly with various firms and individuals donating 
services and money --nothing was used from tax rev- 
enues. Contributors were John Dehner, Inc., exca- 
vation; Fort Wayne Park Board, trees and earth fills; 
May Stone & Sand, Inc., materials; Hagerman Con- 
struction, fills and tamping; Concrete Products, Inc., 
large tree tiles; the Northern Indiana Public Service 
Company, fittings and gas line installations; Decatur 
Salvage Co., railroad ties; Erie -Haven, Inc ., cement; 
Jocquel Supply Co., tiling; L. W. Dailey Construction 
Co., construction forms; General Portland Cement 
Co., mortar; Bricklayers Union, Local No. 2, brick 
laying; Paul C. Brudi Stone & Gravel Co., gravel; 
W . & W . Gravel Co . , Inc . , mortar sand; Krick-Tyndall 
Co., Decatur, tiles; L.I. Griffin Co., crane; C. L. 
Schust Co., retaining wall sealer; Central Catholic 
High School students, painting and miscellaneous 
work; Art Mosaic Co., sidewalk work; Sandpoint 
Greenhouses, Inc., flowers and planting along the 
street; Pion Landscap)e Co., flowers and paintings. 

The first distinguished visitor to The Landing 
was Sen. Vance Hartke on September 18, 1965, and 
the following September the restored business block 
was visited by a group of northern Indiana mayors 
who were entertained by Ed Kane, proprietor of The 
Big Wheel Restaurant. 

Dedication of The Landing on October 23, 1965 
was effectively coordinated with celebration of the 
125th anniversary of the city by the Fort Wayne 
Jaycees . 

During the civic ceremony an historical marker 
listing the highlights of the street and honoring His - 



126 



tor tan Roy Bates was unveiled and presented to the 
city. The marker was a gift of patrons of 1965 
Batesway Tours conducted by Bates for the Allen 
County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. 

John Haley was general chairman of the program 
which began downtown with a torchlight parade, and 
George Kinne was master of ceremonies. Al Kalazk 
and Ray McFarland were co-chairmen of the Jaycee 
promotion. On that evening The Landing officially 
became a part of Fort Wayne's historical heritage. 

In 1968 a Landing Association was formed by 
Columbia and Pearl streets merchants to promote and 
direct activities along the street. Businessman Kane 
was named president; Edward Collins, vice-president; 
Dale Byers, secretary-treasurer and Mrs. White 
special advisor. 

"Special thanks are due Mrs. White for her 
foresight, organization and planning that resulted in 
the preservation of this last remaining block of the 
most active street in this tri-state area, " commented 
Bates who has spent years compiling this history of 
the city's first main street. 

All walks of life contributing a broad range of 
effort have saved The Landing as a practical munici- 
pal heirloom and an example of civic pride among 
those who remember Columbia Street in its heyday 
and those who enjoy a backward look. 



127 



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