WEST LAFAYETTE'S HISTORY began in the early 19th Century yet much of the town - now city's - history remains untold.
Residents current and former are both welcome to contribute to this blog and to the Library's collection of West Lafayette Memories.
A Bit of Background on the
State Street Walking Tour
scheduled for Sunday July 10
during 2016 and the major changes coming to the State Street landscape this
year and years following have prompted the West Lafayette History and Research
Center to focus our efforts at capturing the history of the retail corridor
long known as State Street in West Lafayette - Then and Now.
Remember the street
car lines running down State Street?Or
how State Street has evolved from a thriving family centered retail/service
artery for West Lafayette offering everything from grocery stores to barber
shops, drug stores to women and men’s clothing stores lining State Street to
the current emphasis on serving the retail needs of Purdue students and staff ?
We look forward to
collecting YOUR memories too – we hope you’ll share them with our docents and
on written comment cards available during the tour at the Library before and
after the tour.
Members of the West Lafayette History and Research Advisory Council meet most every month to discuss developments for the West Lafayette History Center and to share city memories.
The Council members have asked to share those memories with our blog readers and so beginning with the March 28, 2016 meeting notes we're glad to make them available.
Comments and clarifications are welcome!
We're focusing our attention on State Street for the 2016 Bicentennial Year and so the March meeting of the Council discussed a wide number of State Street building topics and traditions.
Here is a summary of those March 28, 2016 discussions.....
Street in the Village Area of West Lafayette was a retail center for
the community for many decades from the late 19th and well into the 20the century. State Street's retail importance continues
with a sometimes different cast of business characters today.
Highlighting this retail commerce, several notable buildings located along State Street - from the Levee area deep into the Village - are discussed in a video series produced by Purdue students as well. Watching these videos offers us a look back into a West Lafayette from earlier days..........
And with Triple XXX is all about the root beer...and the burgers..... Triple XXX
Elsalyn Shop for women’s wear opened on Northwestern Avenue in the Village
and moved to State Street across from Harry’s Chocolate Shop (located at 318
State Street in the 1960 and 1970 City Directories; it was located at 724
Northwestern Avenue in the 1950 City Directory).The shop was owned by Judge Parkinson (a Federal
Judge in Chicago) and his wife Elsie and was known as a chic women’s fashion
store in its day.It was a neighbor to Geisler’s Style Stores for Men (1950,
1960 City Directories) at 316 State Street and by Steck’s Wear-haus for men (1970
City Directory) at 300 State Street.
Drug Store competition in the Village! The
Walgreens/CVS competition of the modern day was presaged by a local drug store competition
in the 1950’s ‘60’s and ‘70’s.
The long established Bartlett’s
Drugs was a locally owned Lafayette/West Lafayette pharmacy just up the street
from State and Northwestern (just east of Southworth’s at 306 State Street –
1950 and 1960 City Directories).
second Lafayette/West Lafayette pharmacy – University Rexall - was located in
the nearby Jacques building at 314 State Street. (150 and 1960 City
Directories).A 1956 photo shows both University
Rexall and Bartlett’s on State Street.
Bartlett’s was challenged by the
“upstart” Norb Arth who purchased and moved into Bartlett’s drug store as of
the 1970 City Directory. (University
Rexall by that time had changed its name to “Priced Rite Discount Center”.)
Note: Arth’s Rexall Drugs is
shown at a Stadium Avenue address in the 1950 and 1960 City Directories; Arth’s
stayed at this address for many years after adding the State Street location.
Arth’s Drugs became a fixture in
the Village for the next several decades with an entry/exit on both State
Street and Northwestern Avenues.
Cafeteria and Restaurants in the Village: a number of small
restaurants and one cafeteria were to be found along State Street between
Northwestern and Grant Streets - The Varsity Inn, Kampus Kitchen, Jul’s Diner. A cafeteria was located in the storefront
that now holds University Bookstore; named the “The College Inn Cafeteria” it address was 356
State Street near Grant Street (1950 City Directory). These eateries were staffed, we are told,
with both Purdue students and local residents from Lafayette and West Lafayette.
The Jacques building sported a local Pool Hall in the basement listed as “Johnston’s Billiard Hall”in the 1960 City Directory; it was later known as “The Hole” (see the 1970 City
Directory; also see the establishment’s advertising sign in the 1950’s photo of
State Street). This was a place for high school and college kids to hang out
“back in the day”.
The upper (second) floor was the Sunday
home of Blessed Sacrament Catholic
Church.A long time resident
remembers - selling the Sunday Journal and Courier to the parishioners after
church services when he was sa youth.
In the 1950’s the Jacques
building also housed at 314 State Street University Rexall Drug store; and
Geiseler Style Store for Men at 316 State Street. Both stores were located on the building's first floor.
Across State Street the Lux (1950) and then Howard’s Market (1960) offered groceries at 317
State Street. This is now the location of Von's Shops.
“Big Rock Market” was a grocery store located at the base of
State Street at River Road located at 101-105 State Street (1950 City Directory).It may have been named for the folkloric “Rattlesnake
Rock” that legend places near this site in early West Lafayette history.Supposedly rattlesnakes infested an
outcropping of rocks near this location and so early State Street and River Roads
meandered around them.
The Stabilizer Bar (actually located at 125 Pierce Street and now
part of Purdue’s Rawls Hall) was known as a “counter culture” bar in West
Lafayette from 1976. It was one of the
few – and popular – venues for live music in the City. Previously it was a
“rent a freezer locker” with various names over the decades, an establishment
where local residents would store sides of beef and other large freezer items
for eventual use in home cooking. It was “vacant” in 1971 but then became a
restaurant with a different name each year; in 1973 it was “The Barefoot Boy”
Too, State Street in the Village was a center for Purdue student, faculty and staff living for many many decades....
VARSITY APARTMENTS at 101 Andrew Place on the corner of State Street and Andrew Place is now the home of many Purdue students. In its past it was the home of many Purdue
faculty and staff since its establishment in the earlier 20th century.
It is said the Varsity also housed Purdue football team members for a
years – do you know when???
Andrew Place, just off of State Street and east of the
Grant/State Street intersection retains one of the oldest standing homes in
West Lafayette. The house, located next to the Purdue parking garage and almost facing State
Street is said to have been
originally built and owned by one of the founding families of the West
Lafayette area, the Andrew family.
A long standing fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha (the “Pikes”), located at
149 Andrew Place ceased to be listed as a fraternity after 1965 and was not
rebuilt at that address, moving to University Street by 1970.
It was noted too that West Lafayette was home to a Jewish Fraternity and though not located on State Street or Andrew Place the
Jewish Fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (Pi
Upsilon Chapter at Purdue) was founded in 1952 and was located at 503 University
Street; it is now located on David Ross Road.Alpha Epsilon Pi
And we're learning that modern day traditions like "Breakfast Club" were not the only campus hi-jinks to find a home along State Street....
It was reported that the “NUDE OLYMPICS” associated with Purdue
students took place on State Street in the Fall of 1976. The resident who remembered them reported that
crowds lined both side of the Street as the event took place.The resident remembered only one male who ran
the race in the nude – wearing boots and a clear plastic raincoat; other male
and female runners were wearing swimsuits/bikinis.
Pranay Shoroff, Julian Belal Ms. Stacy Nall
15 December 2015
and Dales: Old is Gold
Lafayette is a town primarily fueled by Purdue University and the business it
brings with its many students from all corners of the world, but it is seldom
recognized that there is a more permanent community that resides outside the
more direct influence of the University.
nearly as old as some of its neighboring communities, the Hills and Dales
community located just northwest of university campus has been deeply
intertwined with Purdue’s affairs since its conception in the1920s.
The Hills and Dales community has—for the most part—remained relatively
unaffected by decades of depression, war, and other national crises and many
houses from its original construction remain today as historic icons. One must
wonder then, what kind of a role did politics play throughout the Hills and
Dales community? This chronicle attempts to give its reader a short but
thorough glimpse into the different issues that the community faced from its
construction in the 1920s to present day, as well as compare and contrast the
community’s life with that if surrounding WestLafayette.
understand politics in Hills and Dales it is useful to look at the larger area
that represents Hills and Dales: West Lafayette. Present day West Lafayette
rises above the tumult of its founding. But quite a twisted founding it did
have. As local pastor and councilmemberPeter
Bunder of the
Chapel of the Good Shepherd puts it, “The city of West Lafayette has a
checkered history. It’s 3 little towns. For a while you cannot send mail here
because nobody knows what West Lafayette is. [...] It’s land speculators from
the east who buy land along the river and are sort of jockeying for position.”
The jockeying was not a little thing. In the area of what is now West
Lafayette, several settlements popped up before West Lafayette became what it
is today. First, in the 1820s, the settlement of Jacktown came to be. Then in
1836, Augustus Wylie established a settlement peculiarly called “West
Lafayette.” But that is not the West Lafayette of today, this previous
iteration failed. 1855 saw Jesse Lutz found the Town of Kingston and 1860 was the
year the Chaunceys came to town. Well, actually it was not. The Chaunceys were
those eastern land speculators that Bunder mentioned earlier. The Chauncey
family was a wealthy Philadelphia family who never lived in West Lafayette and
might have never even graced itsland.
the Chauncey family founded the Town of Chauncey. These towns Jacktown, the
Town of Kingston, the Town of Chauncey, and not the previous West Lafayette
were the three towns Bunder mentioned that make up West Lafayette. In 1866,
these towns started cooperating, and, by the turn of the decade, the three
became one. The three became Chauncey. In 1871, Chauncey asked to be annexed by
Lafayette but was denied due to transriver infrastructure costs. It was not
until 1888 that Chauncey changed its name because, as Bunder mentioned earlier,
nobody could send mail there. The town changed its name to West Lafayette, and
all its mail was routed through Lafayette. Afterward, without Lafayette and
with Purdue University, the town of West Lafayette grew to the point that in
1924 it became a city. With growth came the
more neighborhoods and, in the same year as West Lafayette’s establishment as a
city, came Hills and Dales (New Chauncey Neighborhood Plan).
between those three little towns that led to the creation of West Lafayette can
still be seen in the contemporary politics of the area. West Lafayette is a
small city and Hills and Dales is by no means a big community, facts which have
not changed over the recent decades.