When I first came to Anderson in 1951 there were landmarks to which everyone related. Today’s landmarks are completely different. Compiling a list of places we took for granted then but won’t find today is a task today’s older people can do easily, but youngsters tend to observe, “Really? What happened to it?”
The Eighth Street bridge. No, not the Eisenhower Bridge, the one that it replaced. And now they’re talking about replacing the Eisenhower Bridge.
While we’re talking about bridges, the Tenth Street bridge (two, actually, one near town and one that led to Mounds State Park); the Delaware bridge; and the Moss Island bridge.
The old Pennsylvania Railroad station between Fletcher Street and White River, and the tracks leading along the river across North Main Street into North Anderson. There was a tunnel under the railroad tracks that led to the Eighth Street bridge, and the last stop was the Tunnel Bar. Across Fletcher Street from the railroad station was the infamous Mabel’s, where nefarious activities are said to have been carried on.The Anderson Hotel on Meridian Street and assorted nearby buildings including the Good Earth Restaurant. There is a park on the site now.
The grandstand at Athletic Park, around which the annual Anderson Free Fair took place. Harness racing was a staple until legalized pari-mutuel betting spawned Hoosier Park on the southeast side.
The Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center. It’s now an expanse of vacant lots west of Raible Avenue along Nichol Avenue.
Delco-Remy Plant 1 on Columbus Avenue and Guide Lamp Plant 1 on what was then Pendleton Avenue. The hub of Anderson’s buzzing automotive industry shriveled up and left town a couple of decades ago, and more brownfield vacant lots have yet to be filled. Delco Plant 11 also has been razed, but it is scheduled to be supplanted by the relocation of Myers Autoworld.
Emge Packing Co. on West Eighth Street has given way to the wrecking ball, except for a small part that still houses city equipment.
The campground tabernacle used for the Church of God Convention in its early years collapsed in 1960 during a snowstorm. It was replaced in 1962 by the big round Warner Auditorium, which itself was condemned because of asbestos problems and razed a few years ago.
The original Old Main that housed Anderson College for half a century came down to make way for Anderson University’s Decker Hall.
Anderson High School had stood at 14th and Lincoln streets since 1910. The annex was added in 1938. School reorganization took the school south, and a 1999 fire destroyed both wings of the old school, leaving only the Wigwam and newest wings. The entire complex is now vacant.
And we’ve only scratched the surface.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.