The Irvington Historical Society Newsletter Indy East Motel of the

The Irvington Historical Society Newsletter
Message from the President
of the Indy East Motel
The subject of our feature article this week is
the notorious Indy East Motel, which, as I write
this message, is in the midst of being demolished.
The motel began life as the Mohawk Manor Motorist Hotel, and was a GOOD example of the
post-World War II modernist roadside architecture that dotted the American landscape prior
to the proliferation of the interstate highway.
Due to the interstate, motels
like the Mohawk/ Indy East declined in popularity, and they
began to achieve a BAD reputation as their clientele became
more undesirable and police
runs more commonplace.
Eventually the motel was closed.
It sat empty for several years and
Inside this issue:
The Good, the Bad,
and the Ugly of the
Indy East Motel
The Mohawk Manor
Motorist Hotel
Other Mohawk Motor
Benton House Tour of
356 Good Avenue
An Easy Way for
State Employees to
Health Spot Shoe
became an UGLY eyesore along the Washington Street corridor.
Thankfully a redevelopment of the site is
being undertaken
through a partnership
including the Irvington Development
Prior to the demolition, the Irvington
Historical Society was
given access to the
property on two separate occasions to see
if there were any interesting things to be
found. Scavenged
items included personal items of the
former managing family (which will be returned to the family), dinnerware from three
different eras of the motel’s existence when it
featured a coffee shop, a few unopened boxes of
Gideon Bibles from the 1970s, and the letters on
the front of the building that had spelled out
Additionally, photographers were present at
both visits, so photographic documentation of
the final days of the motel’s existence will be
available to future generations.
Don Flick,
IHS President
Page 2
The Mohawk Manor Motorist Hotel: The Indy East Motel in Better Days
Researched and written by Don Flick, IHS President
The Indy East Motel has a history similar to that of many other
motels built as part of the pre-interstate era—popular in the
1950s and ’60s, struggling in the 1970s, and in perpetual decline
from the ’80s onward.
The motel opened as the Mohawk Manor Motorist Hotel in 1954.
It was developed by a real estate development firm headed by
two attorneys from Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) - Lloyd Schwenger and Milton Daus. It was one of seven
motels that the pair developed (see related story on page 4 for
locations of the other Mohawk motels).
In the first years of its existence the motel was managed by
Elry Rutter. Located on the first floor of the motel was the
Mohawk Manor Coffee Shop and Dinette. Early managers included Mary Thompson and a husband and wife team—Otto
“Fred” and Alice Wiegand.
The Mohawk was quite a respectable and popular lodging place
until interstate highways started replacing national and state
highways as the preferred routes of travel.
By 1969 the Mohawk Manor motel chain had been
bought by NBO Industries, a parent company that
operated bowling alleys under the name National
By 1973 the motel in Irvington was operating under
the name Treadway Inn, and the coffee shop carried
the Treadway name also.
By 1977 the Treadway name had been dropped and
the Mohawk name returned, with the businesses
Upper right: Indianapolis Herald article, Jan. 22, 1954.
Background: Detail from Franciscan “Starburst” china
pattern used in the coffee shop during the 1950s.
Middle: Postcards c. 1960s
Right: Entry from 1955 Indianapolis city directory.
Page 3
Indy East Motel (cont’d from page 2)
known as the Mohawk Budget Inn and
Mohawk Coffee Shop.
Like many struggling mid-sized American motels the Mohawk Budget Inn
eventually became part of what is
known as the “Patel Motel” phenomenon, coming under the control of a
Hindu Indian family surnamed Patel.
Approximately 50% of hotels and motels in the US today are run by natives
of India, almost all named Patel, and
most coming from the Indian state of
Gujarat. Around 1980 Rasmi Patel
became manager of the Mohawk.
City directories for the ensuing three
years listed Arvind Patel as manager of
the renamed Budget Host Motel. During
this time the coffee shop was operated
by Jerry Wall under the name Jerry’s
Coffee Shop.
Between 1984 and 1986 the motel
brought back the American Indian motif and was rechristened the Chief Motel, with “Jim” Patel listed as manager.
By 1989 the name had been changed
yet again, this time to the Indy East Motel, the name that it would keep until
its demise. The owners were a couple
named Ravindra and Manuben Patel.
Struggling to maintain a clientele, the motel became increasingly popular with drug addicts, prostitutes, and persons unable to find permanent housing. Police runs were frequent,
and the residents of Irvington started calling for the closing
of the Indy East.
Due to citizen and police complaints the City of Indianapolis
eventually ordered the Indy East closed.
The Patel family complied, but began looking for other alternative uses for the building. There was an effort around
2010 to donate the building to Good News Ministries for
use as a family homeless shelter, but the community resisted
that effort.
Eventually the county took over possession of the motel,
and gave title to the Irvington Development Organization,
which began soliciting proposals for the property. The proposal that was eventually selected was a partnership between IDO and Meyer-Najem to replace the building with a
50-unit apartment complex targeting individuals and families
of moderate income. As that project moved toward reality
the fate of the motel was sealed, and demolition brought to
an end a once-respectable but later-reviled part of Irvington.
Upper right: Postcard from 1960s.
Lower left: Photograph of Patel family c.1980s. This
photo was recently found in a pre-demolition walkthrough of the motel. Family members are unidentified.
Right: Photo c. 2009.
Page 4
Other Mohawk Motor Inns
The Mohawk Manor Motorist Hotel in Irvington was one of a
small chain of seven motels. Others were located in Rochester,
Syracuse, and Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD, and
Cincinnati, OH.
The actual names of the motels varied slightly. Whereas many of
the motels were originally named Mohawk Manor Motorist Hotel,
most later became known as Mohawk Motor Inn, although as these
photos attest, this was not consistent.
Philadelphia, PA
Syracuse, NY
Cincinnati, OH
Buffalo, NY
Rochester, NY
The current conditions of the motels vary. Some have been renovated into more modern hotels, one is a substance abuse center,
and at least one has been demolished.
Baltimore, MD
Page 5
Benton House Tour of Homes 2012
Page 6
Benton House Tour Home: 356 Good Avenue
Researched and written by Steven R. Barnett, IHS Executive Director
On March 31, 1925, a notice appeared in The Indianapolis Commercial that a building permit had been issued to R. Whittenberg for the construction of a dwelling in the style of an American Four Square at “350 Good Av” costing $6,000. The lot
Whittenberg had selected for his new home was next door to
his father-in-law, Jacob Rubin.1
Randolph S. Whittenberg was born in Missouri on July 2,
1866. Trained as a machinist, he came to Indianapolis around
1901 and worked as a die setter in a forge shop. Whittenberg
married Estella Margaret Rubin (1880-1978) on June 20, 1905,
and to this marriage two children were born – Florence Whittenberg and Floyd Whittenberg. Whittenberg died on October 15, 1930 and was buried at Washington Park East Cemetery.2
The Great Depression years of the ‘30s saw Philip Everhart
Lamson residing in this house with his wife Faye and their
three children Kathryn Lamson,
Phyllis Lamson, and Thomas Lamson.
Records indicate that he was a tenant. Lamson was born in Cowden,
Illinois on November 21, 1891. He
was an inspector with Western Union Telegraph Co when he enlisted
in the United States Army in April
1918. Assigned to Headquarters
Company, 308 Field Artillery, Lamson saw active service on the Western Front. He was discharged in
May 1919 with the rank of corporal
and returned to his civilian job with
Corp. Philip E. Lamson
Western Union. The company
transferred Lamson from Charleston, Illinois to Indianapolis in 1932. After leaving 356 S. Good
Av, Lamson continued to live in the Irvington area through the
Carl J. Eder bought this house on the eve of World War II.
A native Hoosier, Eder was born in the Madison County community of Alexandria on April 14, 1897, and in his early teens
he began working as an operator for the Postal TelegraphCable Co (Western Union) in Indianapolis. It is likely that Eder
met his future wife while working as a telegraph operator. The
main office of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Co was located in
the Merchants Bank Building, and in 1919 Illinois native Beulah
M. Cossey (1903-62) was working as a stenographer for the J B
Ford Co which had offices in the same building. Romance
blossomed and the couple married. Together they would become the parents of five children – Carl W. “Bill” Eder, Paul R.
Eder, Theresa Eder, Mary Jean Eder, and Rita A. Eder.4
The peaceful calm that the Eders found on Good Avenue did
not last long. Irvington, like communities across the United
States, soon found its sons going off to war. Nineteen-year-old
Bill Eder joined the Navy and was posted as a gunner’s mate on
a merchant ship. The
war years saw the national media featuring
stories of “hometown
America” in addition to
its coverage of soldiers
and sailors at the front.
One of the most popular publications to do
this was Life magazine
which brought the
events of the world
into American homes
with its pages of glossy
photographs. For the
September 25, 1944
issue, Life editors profiled the Eder family to
show that with all of
Bill Eder’s Family and their dog Butch
the turmoil of war,
“Home: It’s the Same
as Ever.” With accompanying photos – Bill’s family sitting in
the living room of an evening reading the paper, listening to the
radio, sewing; Bill’s bed; Bill’s civilian clothes carefully put away;
the family car – Bill Eder, and by extension all service members,
were assured that all would be as they left it when they returned home. The narrative accompanying the photos conveyed a nostalgic sense of stability that would be waiting the
returning “Bills” so life could be resumed with little change.
Even one of Bill’s girlfriends, Lois Bardwell, was pictured.
Bill Eder came home from the war, but by the end of the decade the family moved from Irvington to the neighborhood
around Little Flower Catholic Church.5
Insurance agent Kirk H. McMillan was the next owner of 356
Good Av. Born in Wilmington, Ohio on New Year’s Day 1904,
McMillan was associated with United Benefit Health & Accident
and later with Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Co. He married
Mary Lu Blackwell (1913-2005) of Mitchell, Indiana and together
they were the parents of three daughters – Marilyn Ann McMillan, Barbara Jean McMillan, and Carol Lu McMillan. Shortly after the end of World War II, McMillan brought his family to
Indianapolis and to this Irvington house. It appears that the
couple divorced in the early 1950s, and as a consequence the
Good Avenue house was sold. Kirk McMillan died in Indianapolis on November 7, 1954.6
Following the McMillans, Wayne L. Settles, a millwright with
Esterline Angus Co, and his wife Mary I. Settles became the
owners of this residence for the next twenty-five years. Settles
was born in Kentucky on September 18, 1916 and died in
Page 7
Benton House Tour Home (cont’d from page 6)
Franklin, Indiana on June 6, 2006.7 A succession of short term
owners came after the Settles.
Robert E. and Ingeburg M. Harold owned 356 Good Av
for a couple of years in the late ‘70s. Harold was a service
man with Baker Boiler.
Around 1978, retired
Indianapolis Union
Railroad brakeman
George M. Dobson
bought this home and
resided there with his
wife Ruth J. Dobson.
A native of Kentucky,
Dobson was born on
March 31, 1918. He
married fellow Kentuckian Ruth Juanita
Shields (1919-2004) in
1935 and together
they were the parents
of five children –
George “Mike” Dobson, Clarence “Bill”
Dobson, Judy Dobson,
Sharon Dobson, and Jamie Dobson. A veteran of World War
II, Dobson enlisted in the United States Army in March, 1944
and served until January, 1946 when he was discharged as a
private. The Dobsons left Good Avenue in the early 1980s.
George Dobson died on March 15, 1996 and was buried in
Forest Lawn Memory Garden, Greenwood, Indiana.8
1. “Building Permits,” The Indianapolis Commercial, 31 March 1925,
p.; 1920 United States Federal Census<>.
2. “Death Notices,” The Indianapolis Star, 17 October 1930, p. 22:1;
Indiana Marriage Collection 1800-1941<>; 1910-30
United States Federal Census<>; 1902-09; 1912-13;
1915; 1922-24; 1926 R L Polk & Co Indianapolis City Directory.
3. World War I Draft Registration Card<>; Shelby
County Illinois in the World War (Review Press, Decatur, IL 1919),
p. 151; 1920-30-40 United States Federal Census <>;
1933 R L Polk & Co Indianapolis City Directory.
4. “Carl J. Eder,” The Indianapolis Star, 13 January 1973, p. 11:2;
“Indianapolis Area Deaths,” The Indianapolis Star, 29 January
1965, p. 9:8; World War I Draft Registration
Card<>; Social Security Death>;
1920-30-40 United States Federal Census<>.
5. “Home: It’s the Same as Ever,” Life, 25 September 1944, pp. 8689; R L Polk & Co Indianapolis City Directory.
6. “Insurance Salesman Dies in Home,” The Indianapolis Star, 8 November 1954, p. 4:3; Ohio Births & Christenings Index 18001962<>; Social Security Death Index
<>; 1940 United States Federal Census
<>; McMillanFamilyTree<>; R L Polk &
Co Indianapolis City Directory.
7. Wayne L. Settles,” The Indianapolis Star, 8 June 2006, p. B7:2; R L
Polk & Co Indianapolis City Directory; Social Security Death Index
<>; AlbertsonFamilyTree<>.
8. R L Polk & Co Indianapolis City Directory; “Ruth J. Shields Dobson,”
The Indianapolis Star, 20 April 2004, p. ; Social Security Death
Index<>; Altman/Dodd/Reynolds/Devore
<>; U. S. World War II Army Enlistment Records 1
938-46; U. S. Veterans Administration Birls Death File 18502010<>.
Below: Text from Life magazine article, Sept. 25, 1944, describing the
Eder family during World War II. The house, which is now clad in siding, was at the time covered in stucco, as noted in the story.
Page 8
An Easy Way for State Employees to Donate to the Society
Submitted by Paul Diebold, IHS Board Member
“I gave at the office” has become a common way of refusing a
donation request. Now, you can live up to your claim of
“giving at the office.” If you are a State of Indiana worker, you
can give back to your community directly at the convenience of
your office desk! The United Way Indiana State Employees’
Community Campaign (SECC) will allow donations to the Irvington Historical Society. Now through November 2, simply
enter our code, 519700, when completing your contribution
form at the SECC web site.
If you are a state employee but do not live in Irvington, you can
still donate to the Society through the SECC. Consider the
following one time and by-weekly giving options:
A one-time donation of $25.00 helps us operate Bona
Thompson Center free to the public for one more day.
A one-time donation of $50.00 will assist our upcoming
Irvington Presents juried art show.
A bi-weekly payroll deduction of $10/paycheck (the cost of
fast food meal) will accumulate to $520 by the end of the
year, helping us to put on free events throughout the year.
A bi-weekly payroll deduction of $20/paycheck will accumulate to $1,040.00 by the end of the year, helping us remain active in reaching out to the community, by putting
on events like our recent free workshop for historic buildings.
The Irvington Historical Society has received thousands of dollars of donations from the SECC for over five years now. Donations range from employees to who use the payroll deduction to those who make a one-time contribution.
The United Way created the SECC as way of getting state employees involved in their communities. Over the past 34 years,
state employees have contributed $24,000,000 to charities of
their choice. Last year, nearly 6,000 employees contributed to
1,600 charities through the SECC and raised more than
$1,200,000. Point your web browser to
default.htm for more information.
Health Spot Shoe Shop: Buy Shoes, Get Your Feet X-Rayed.
Submitted by Don Flick, IHS President
The following business article
appeared in the Nov. 14,
1947 edition of the Indianapolis (later East Side) Herald.
The Health Spot Shoe Shop
was located in a building that
formerly stood on what is
now the Walgreen’s parking
According to the article,
before being fitted for shoes,
customers would have their
feet x-rayed by the trained
sales people . It is interesting
that the price of the x-ray
was inexpensive enough to
be considered just part of the
overhead cost of selling a pair
of shoes.
William Hantman had another Health Spot Shoe Shop
downtown at 17 E. Ohio
Street and it appears after a
couple of years he closed the
Irvington store and concentrated on the downtown
store. The downtown store
closed sometime between
1955 and 1959.
Page 9
IHS Happenings
IHS Membership
Current Exhibits at BTMC
Immediate Benefits for
New Members:
“A Celebration of Indiana Artists, Featuring t.The Irvington Group”,
art from the collections of the Irvington Historical Society and the Portfolio.
“Beecher Arlinda Ellen, Indiana’s World Champion Milk-Producing
“Baseball Memorabilia”, featuring baseballs autographed by some baseball
Permanent Exhibits & Attractions at BTMC
Butler University Memorabilia including scale model of the Irvington campus
International Harvester Memorabilia
Eastside Fire Museum
Irvington Garden Club Conservatory
IHS Bookstore and Gift Shop (new and vintage items)
“Influence of the Railroad on the Development of Irvington” including
scale model of Pennsylvania Railroad and the original Irvington commercial district
“The Civil War and its Influence on Irvington” featuring exhibits on
Camp McClellan, historic lithographs of notable battles, etc.
This month we feature two ads for
businesses that were located at
5519 E. Washington Street, which
was part of the Masonic Lodge
Building at the corner of Johnson
and Washington.
Right: From the 1926 Butler Drift
Below: From the Jan. 22, 1954
issue of the Indianapolis Herald.
It is interesting that one business
was touting the benefits of gas,
while the other was all about electricity.
Discounts from Irvington Merchants: All members, new and
renewed, will receive a card for
discounts at the following merchants: Annie’s Apparel, Bona
Thompson Conservatory, Bookmamas, Black Sheep Gifts,
George Thomas Florist, Lazy
Daze Coffee House, and WeePlay.
Gift : All new members may pick
-up a gift on their first visit to the
Bona Thompson Memorial Center.
Annual Member Benefits:
Special invitation for all events at
the Bona Thompson Memorial
10% discount on Irvington Historical Society items at the Bona
Thompson Memorial Society Gift
Holiday gift.
To Join:
Please complete the following application and mail it along with your
annual membership dues for $25.00
Irvington Historical Society
5350 East University Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46219-7009
Name ______________________
Address ______________________
Phone ______________________
Email ______________________
For more information about the
Irvington Historical Society, visit