Monday, January 22, 2024
LOCAL BUILDING HISTORY: The Kennedy Hotel
The Kennedy Hotel, now apartments, was built in the 1920s and was only the second hotel in the city’s history.
There were many boarding houses but only one true hotel in Shelbyville a century ago. And the Ray House was already 75 years old. So Fred Kennedy’s announcement in 1926 he was “building from the ground up” drew the attention of news media throughout the region, especially because Kennedy’s prior ventures had been successes.
He had formed the Kennedy Car Liner company in the late 1800s after observing the large amount of grain lost in rail cars at his father’s mill company on East Washington Street. He later donated the land for Kennedy Park.
Kennedy was from a pioneer family. His father, George Kennedy, had operated a tanner plant on East Jackson Street at the first alley east of Harrison, before owning Kennedy Flour Mills and Our Star Flour. Following the Civil War, George Kennedy built the three-story brick building that adjoins the Knights of Pythias building and now houses Cadillac Jack’s on the west side of Public Square.
To be sure, various residents had been used for hotel lodging over Shelbyville’s history. The first hotel in town was the Cross Tavern, the location later the same as the Ray House/Shelby Hotel in the northeast quadrant of Public Square. The Cross Tavern was built entirely of logs by Joshua Cross, the eventual father-in-law to Mr. Ray, owner of the local hotel which was then the largest between Cincinnati and Indianapolis. (In 1890, Mr. Blessing, by then owner of the Hotel Ray, built the first sewer in Shelbyville, from the hotel to Big Blue River.)
Other “hotels” included the Wingate Tavern on the present site of St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Indiana House at the corner of Washington and Noble Streets. The Cossairt House was at 150 West South Street.
By the 1920s, Kennedy believed the town needed a new hallmark hotel, and used local contractors to create the structure. The stucco and plaster work was done by Peter Comstock and cement laid by Hiram Peters & Son. John Burns was the general contractor. Jack Green and Charles Griffey painted the building. Ben Piatt provided furniture and J.G. DePrez handled glass and hardware needs.
When the hotel opened in July 1926, The Republican published a detailed description of the facility. “Approaching the hotel from the Big Four railroad one gets a very good view…showing to a wonderful advantage this beautiful two-story building, with its countless windows, proving that all the rooms are well lighted and airy,” the paper said.
An artistic black sign at the entrance of the sun room spelled out “Hotel Kennedy.” The sun room, facing north, was enclosed with glass, providing a year-round lounge area. The floor was smooth and furniture rustic. The attached office was furnished in mahogany and Circassian walnut. A wide hall ran the length of the building, with rooms opening off both sides. There were several bathrooms in the hallways and some rooms had private facilities.
The exterior stucco was stone colored, combined with white cement and wood painted green. The basement included an automatic water heating system, a laundry room, a shower bath and kitchen and dining room. “In the kitchen is installed a huge Majestic range, which covers nearly one side of the room,” the paper said. An automatic dishwasher and coffee maker were also downstairs.
Within just a few days, stacks of lumber, cement and sand on the property had been replaced by flowers and grass, the paper said. “It is a worthy addition to the city of Shelbyville, and one of which every citizen should be proud.”
Kennedy remained involved in the hotel’s operations for many years. He died in 1953, and the Kennedy Hotel eventually became “sleeping rooms,” and remains in use as apartment efficiencies today.
HOOSIER NEWS: A U.S. based technology company, NHanced, will start operations at a new facility in Odon, southwest of Bloomington, after opening its plant Friday. Operations are expected to kick off in the second half of 2024. It’s one of eight new semiconductor facilities that received federal funding through the CHIPS and Science Act, which named Indiana one of its regional tech hubs. The Odon facility received nearly $33 million in the first round of CHIPS funding – the biggest allocation so far for semiconductors. The CHIPS Act, authored by Indiana Senator Todd Young, said demand for semiconductors is increasing and Indiana was already well positioned to meet the need because of the state’s auto manufacturing industry. NHanced expects to bring more than 400 jobs to the area by 2028. It is one of four companies developing in Odon, which will be managed under the WestGate Crane Technology Park, adjacent to Crane’s Naval Surface Warfare Center. (Indiana Public Media)
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This Day in Shelby County History
2014: Snow and ice created traffic problems. Most vehicles on I-74 were traveling about 35 miles per hour, Major David Tilford of the Shelby County Sheriff’s office said.
2004: McKay Road residents flooded the Shelbyville Board of Works meeting with complaints following heavy rains and drainage issues. Water from the sanitary sewer line had mixed with groundwater and rainwater and shot up through basement shower drains at some homes. Some of the city sewer lines had been installed in 1900, waste water treatment officials said, contributing to the issue.
1994: The Shelby County Criminal Justice system officially opened. The combination of the police and sheriff’s offices in the building marked the first time city and county government agencies had shared a space. Sheriff Mike Herndon and Jail Commander Capt. Darrell Adcock had been instrumental in developing the center’s plans. County Commissioner President Bruce Knecht had helped shepherd the process through local approvals. The county’s previous jail, built in 1874, would be demolished.
1984: Over 100 archers from the region met at Griffey’s Sporting Goods on East Broadway to compete in an archery tournament.
A burglar received an unwelcome reception when he tried to break into 102 Van Ave. Ruby Sinclair, who was staying with an older woman in the house, heard the intruder and beat him with a wooden cane until he fled from the residence. Police were searching for the suspect.
1974: A state trooper hosted a question-and-answer session at city hall in an effort to recruit others to the field. Those attending the session were Steve Kulpinski, Howard Mullen, Dallas McQueary, Kim Green, Rick Joseph and Steven Mummerrt.
1964: Temperatures reached the 60s in Shelby County, although it was still in the 30s at night. The five-day outlook called for warmer than usual temperatures.
Major Hospital received a new artificial respirator, a prototype that was placed only in select U.S. locations. A newspaper photo showed Jeanne Renbarger, pharmacist, and Dr. Robert Inlow with the new device.
1954: Five Marine Corps volunteers from Shelby County left Indianapolis for San Diego, Calif. as part of an all-Hoosier Marine company to be formed following a recruiting drive. The local Marines were Richard Hasecuster, George Nulliner, Bobby Gene Price, Paul Lightfoot and Loyd Bantz.
The sudden increase in coffee prices had disrupted the long-time coffee break tradition at The Shelbyville News. Employees had “grown accustomed to having a cup of coffee about midway of the morning - it may have been gulped down scalding hot between telephone calls or it may have grown stone cold while typewriters clattered but sometime during the morning we had our coffee break while business went on as usual,” the paper said. But employees had stopped suddenly when prices reached 10 cents a cup. The paper noted that staff members were more easily irrirated without their coffee.
1944: The Shelbyville Desk Company was purchased by a New York company. Harry Karmire, president, and E.A. Swain, secretary, had handled the deal on the local side.
1934: Continuing a long-standing problem, four automobiles in one day were “borrowed” by joy riders, causing damage to two of the cars. In other police news, an Indiana Ave. man was sentenced to 60 days after striking his wife. The altercation had occurred after she refused to hand over $4 she earned working.
1924: A coal stove exploded in a Flat Rick home, injuring two. The stove had been moved to the dining room to keep fruit from freezing.
Someone had been creating interference with radio waves, causing many radio owners in Shelbyville to not receive signal. “A thorough canvas of every part of the city is planned so that it will be only a question of time until the guilty party is found,” The Republican said. Once determined, the suspect would be turned over to federal authorities, local police promised.
1914: A police raid resulted in eight people being arrested on charges of being keepers of resorts. “The raids were made on the places kept by Mrs. Maude Tanner and Mrs. Faye Williams, the former being located in East Broadway and the latter in East Hendricks Street.” Both were supposedly boarding houses for women. A local man arrested at the house, who was not named but described as “well known and a man of family,” pleaded guilty to “associating.” He paid a $20 fine and was released. Some “traveling” businessmen were also arrested at the house and jailed. When the seven remaining were arraigned before the mayor the next day, “Mrs. Tanner was up in an instant” complaining that the married local man had received preferential treatment, The Republican said.
Theatrics On Point at Saturday Night Showdown
Local wrestling group New Era Wrestling (NEW) kicked off the 2024 season at the Boys’ Club Saturday night. | SUBMITTED
submitted by Cristi Brant
Pulling into the Boys Club parking lot Saturday night was akin to when 5 and 6-year-old basketball games are on: packed. However, this was no child’s play; it was an event where grown-ups took center stage, and the audience was hungry for a spectacle, not just a good try.
The gym buzzed from the gathering of more than 100 locals and visitors touting signs, t-shirts, and chants, rallying for the event to start. The lights dimmed, the music kicked in and the announcer set the stage for the first match.
From behind the curtain emerged the night's talent, transformed from your "typical" neighbors into aggressive and well-choreographed performers. Trash talk from front-row fans added fuel, shouting names, recalling past moments and playfully threatening favorite contenders' moves. No mercy.
What followed set the tone for the season—a classic "good" vs "evil" narrative, loss, and the promise of "next time." It wasn't just about athleticism - although, did you know your neighbor could flip like that? - it was a real life impromptu drama destined to be continued. See for yourself. Next show is Saturday, February 17. Follow @NewEraWrestling46176 for details.