Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monthly Memories

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.....

State 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).  

 A 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” restaurant. 

Too, State Street in the Village was a center for Purdue student, faculty and staff living for many many decades....

The 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 number of years – do you know when???  

The Varsity Apartments are featured on a YouTube video : Varsity Apartments
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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

HILLS and DALES Neighborhood History

Alexander Sganga, Pranay Shoroff, Julian Belal Ms. Stacy Nall
  English 10800

15 December 2015

Hills and Dales: Old is Gold

West 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.
Though not 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 the 1920s.
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 West Lafayette.


To 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 councilmember Peter

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 its land.
Nonetheless, 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

development of more neighborhoods and, in the same year as West Lafayette’s establishment as a city, came Hills and Dales (New Chauncey Neighborhood Plan).
The cooperation 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.