submitted by president emerita Sylvia Henricks
A day-trip is always fun, and the Society members who drove into Indianapolis in early July to visit the Propylaeum on Delaware Street for a tour and lunch had a good time. The big “Queen Anne style” mansion is the headquarters for a woman’s organization to “encourage the appreciation of the arts for the public, and especially for women." The name itself means “Gateway.”
It was organized in 1888, under the guidance of May Wright Sewell -- a painting of her by T.C. Steele is in the entrance hall – who became the first president. The group built an imposing stone clubhouse on North Street where they remained, sponsoring many groups for women, until the building of the World War Memorial in 1922 forced them to move. (Our member Joe Seiter brought a postcard of that first building to show us.)
The ladies purchased the house and lot at 1410 N. Delaware in 1923. The house had been built in the 1880s by a brewer whose wife wanted to live on the near north side, known as “the Gold Coast” area. It has many fine details – 12 foot ceilings, “pocket-doors.” A broad, carpeted staircase ascending three floors. A ballroom is on the third floor, along with the servants’ quarters. Six bedrooms and baths are on the second floor. Downstairs, the fireplace fronts are decorated with tile, believed to be Rookwood.
Later owners were George McCulloch, owner of the Indianapolis Star, and President and General Manager of the Indiana Transit Co. Another brewer, with many financial interests became the third owner, In the 1920s the College of Music and Fine Arts, a forerunner to the Jordan College of Fine Arts at Butler University, bought the property, but “decided to free itself from the financial burden, and the house was purchased with Liberty Bonds by the Propylaeum for $65,000. (Most of the above information is from a brochure given guests.)
As funds have allowed the house has been restored. It is a beautiful example of elegant living in a bygone era. We –14 of us—enjoyed a lovely meal in one of the formal parlors, the table set with stemmed glasses, china and
It was Evelyn’s birthday, and the hostess put her at the head of the table, with a tiara on her head. Our meals enjoyed and finished, our thank-you’s expressed to the hostess and the servers, we left through the “Georgian Style” front door with its hand-wrought iron grill, to return to our humbler, but no less treasured, Southside homes.