A.M. Strauss Firm Dissolved After 70 Years by Allan D. White

The A.M. Strauss & Associates architectural firm closed last year.  The records of the firm’s prodigious 70-year output are slated to go to the Indiana Historical Society and represent some 3000 projects.

Alvin M. Strauss, born in 1895 in Kendallville, Indiana of German immigrant parents, opened his architecture studio in Fort Wayne in 1918, following a three-year apprenticeship in Chicago.  His career bristled with activity , and his reputation as an architect spread well beyond Fort Wayne.

Strauss designed the Daniel and Jeanne Andersen house at 201 South Maple Street which wil be open for the historical society’s 1989 house tour on December 3, 11:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m..  The Andersens plan to display his prospectus and blueprints for the house.

The Andersens’ English cottage style house was built at the end of 1926 and 1927 for Fred and Julia Gingerick.  Gingerick was an executive officer of Peabody Seating Company.  His wife, Julia, had grown up in North Manchester, the daughter of the Vandalia Railroad station master.  Because of Fred’s association with the Peabody family, it was once assumed that Charles Weatherhogg, the Fort Wayne architect who had drawn the plans for the buildings on the campus of Peabody Retirement Community, had done the Gingerick-Andersen house, too.

In an interview to prepare for the home tour, however, the Andersens’ showed us the prospectus and blueprints with the name A.M. Strauss on them.  Since that time further research has been made with the Gingericks’ daughter, Virginia, and with the architectural historian, Craig Leonard.

Leading Role in Planning Lincoln Bank Tower

Strauss drew the plans for the Gingerick house after a long drive with the family in the city of Indianapolis, according to the Gingericks’ daughter, Virginia.  Craig Leonard tells us that he is now compiling National Register forms for the 1934 Zimmer house in Warsaw, also a Strauss work.  Leonard kindly took the time to send us copies of Fort Wayne newspaper clippings concerning Strauss’s triumphs and his obituary.  Strauss died July 6, 1958, after a long bout with cancer and is buried in Kendallville.

Included among the outstanding buildings for which the firm was responsible are Allen County War Memorial Coliseum; the Lincoln Bank & Trust Tower; the Embassy, Paramount, and Clyde Theaters; the redesign of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and MacDougal Chapel; Central Catholic High School; Parkview Memorial Hospital; St. Vincent Villa; the Baer Field Terminal; 13 buildings at Indiana University; and the administration and factory for the Auburn Automobile Company

When it was opened in 1930, Lincoln Tower was the tallest building in Indiana.  For it Strauss was in consultation with Walker and Weeks of Cleveland, Ohio, and he both designed and supervised the construction of that building.

He was the consulting architect for the Wolf & Dessauer building, new in 1958 at the time of his death.  It later served as L.S. Ayres downtown but is now totally refitted as an office complex.

The World War I veteran was a member of the State Architects Registration Board, Executives Club, Elks, Fort Wayne Country Club, YMCA and the Achduth Vesholom Congregation of Fort Wayne.

Confectionery from The Buckeye Cookbook (1876)

·          Coconut Drops.  One pound coconut, half pound powdered sugar, and white of one egg.  Work all together and roll into little balls.  Bake on buttered tins.

·         German Cakes.  One pound of flour, quarter pound of almonds, cut in small pieces, five eggs, grated rind of one lemon.  Beat the eggs and sugar 15 minutes before adding the other ingredients.  Drop one teaspoon at a time and bake until tinged with brown.

·         Popcorn Balls.  One peck of popped corn.  Half pint of taffy made by boiling one quarter pound of sugar in a half pint of water.  Let stand a few minutes.  Pour over the corn and stir with a wooden spoon.  Flour the hands and make into 20 balls.


 Pioneer, Preacher, Abolitionist: Bryant Fannin Brings the Word
 by Michael R. Hayes [Descendant of Bryant Fannin]

Bryant Fannin preached the first sermon in North Manchester. That was on a fall morning in 1835 in the cabin of Peter Ogan (Ogan was the founder of North Manchester).

The Fannin background originates in Virginia, where Bryant Fannin, Sr., was born on October 28, 1791, in what is now Tazewell County (then part of Wythe County). His grandfather was Bryan Fannin (1735-1765), and his father was Ackerless Fannin who died around April 10, 1812, in Wythe County. Bryant married Rachel Pearson on May 31, 1814, and they moved to Russell County, Virginia, and purchased land, which they sold in 1817.

We next know that they had their first son, Jesse, born November 9, 1820, in Wayne County, Indiana, and purchased land there in a section which would later be southeast Madison County. The family grew with the birth of Deborah (March 6, 1825). Rachel (March 9, 1830), and Washington (probably about 1831).

Different historical references had placed Bryant and Rachel in Wabash County between 1833 and 1836. However, a son, David, was born in Chester Township on February 20, 1833, so the family had arrived by then. Bryant purchased his first piece of property in Chester Township on October 1, 1833, a portion of section 32, lying on the south side of Eel River. The tract is immediately east of the old Second Street bridge and on the north side of the road. The river has changed course since that time: it is believed that in earlier times the river flowed considerably west of where it is now, so that land was triangular. Old timers did not recall what Bryant did with this land.

In 1841 Bryant and his neighbor, John Spenser, formed an organization of Christians or Disciples of Christ, meeting at the Fannin cabin and later at the Walters Schoolhouse on Gospel Hill, at the southwest corner of the intersection of Singer Road and County Road 1100 North. The group then moved to a building on the west side of Main Street and just north of the village store in New Madison (Servia of today). The building was later moved across the street and formed the main part of Luella Felabom’s house.

Bryant’s family continued to grow in 1834 with the birth of daughter. Polly (who died in infancy), and a son, John, was born in 1836 (he died in 1850). Another son, Bryant Jr. was born July 6, 1837.

When Bryant’s wife, Rachel, died in 1839, he married Harriet Nichols in early 1840. Harriet’s daughter, Dimey, had married Bryant’s first son, Jesse. It was not unusual for a man to remarry as soon as possible to help raise his family.

Fannin was a preacher for over 40 years, going wherever he was needed and never asking money for his services. He was an ardent abolitionist and one of four conductors on the “underground railway” which helped runaway slaves escape to Canada. Maurice Place was another conductor.

The homestead was about a quarter mile east of the Krisher Cemetery on County Road 1100 North along Pony Creek and just west of Singer Road. He walked to Fort Wayne to get the deed to his property, signed by Andrew Jackson and dated September 2, 1834.

Bryant Fannin, Sr., died on January 8, 1881. He had told his friends that, when he crossed the River Jordan, his right arm would rise in the casket. Funeral services were held in the morning. The mourners went to lunch and, when they returned to the church for the afternoon burial, they saw that Bryant’s right arm was raised. He was buried in Krisher Cemetery. Harriet died in January 1886 and was buried with Bryant. Rachel, buried in another cemetery, was reinterred in Krisher Cemetery along with several other Fannin relatives.

The spelling Fannin apparently was changed to Fanning by Bryant’s descendants.

 Historical Society Sponsors Eleventh Tour Since 1972

The North Manchester Historical Society has sponsored 11 house tours since 1972 when it cooperated with the FunFest committee and Child Care Association to present a historic tour which also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the covered bridge.  Five houses were arranged; at the last minutes the Pottenger house (Thomas Marshall birthplace house) had to be withdrawn because of the owner’s illness.

Every kind of house has been represented from the oldest Greek Revival structures in town (Lantz House part of the hotel, 1847; Eagle, 402 West Fifth, 1847; and Siling, 202 West Second, 1858) to the recent energy efficient houses.  Big and small.  All memorable.

These tours are an important outreach of the society and draw people for a variety of reasons.  A record number of tickets was sold for the Christmas tour of 1983 when 1200 people passed through the Peabody-Dziabis home. 

That kind of success means success for the Historical Society’s work in the Manchester community.  You can help---tell your friends and neighbors about the tour.  Sell those tickets!  Adults $4.00 in advance, $5.00 day of tour; students $3.00 in advance, $4.00 day of tour; on tour day the tickets available at the College Administration Building, 604 College Avenue.

***1989 Holiday Tour ***

Ginerick-Andersen  201 South Maple Street  1926-27   English Cottage Style

Montel  701 Baker Street  1980   Contemporary

Wells-Yount   301 West Third  1871  Early Italianate  “Steamboat Gothic”

Heeter-Freeman  501 Singer Road  1865  Italianate

Smith-Wilson   207 North Market  Late 1880’s   Late Italianate

Manchester College Administration Building   604 College Avenue  1889 . 1895 . 1920 Italianate/Craftsman

Home of Daniel and Jeanne Andersen *  This English cottage style house has many amenities not often found: interesting plastering and moldings, large wood and marble fireplace, and closets whose light goes on when the door is opened.  Built for Fred and Julia Gingerick in 1926-1926 by the architect Alvin M. Strauss.  Gingerick was an executive of the Peabody Seating Company.

Home of J.P. and Michelle Freeman * The Freemans’ clever use of auction finds and family pieces befits the oldest house on the tour, framed by “Framer John” Heeter in 1865 and completed by itinerant brick layers from Ohio.  Unusual round-top windows across the front of the house.  The milkhouse still stands immediately behind.  This house was open for tour in 1974.

Home of Earl and Phyllis Montel *  The Montels designed this house in 1980 and had it built that year on their property along Baker Street.  It represents the triumph of modern thinking on energy-wise housing, surrounded on three sides by a man-made embankment.  Natural setting.  Practical interior.  Mantle made from log from old Sturgis railroad station.  Stop for refreshments here. (The Society loves to bake cookies for you!)

Home of Charles and Cheryl Wilson *  This late Victorian brick house was built for David Smith in the late 1880’s.  Tall door frames and plinth blocks, pocket doors are intact as are some lighting fixtures upstairs once piped for gas lighting.  Family heirlooms and eclectic pieces make their home comfortably with this busy family of five’s home (plus cats and fish).

Home of Helen Yount *  The elegant Wells house (1871), is a fine “Steamboat Gothic” Italianate, seen in the two-story gallery across back.  Wells was a Lutheran church man whose career extended over most of the 1800’s, twice pastor at Zion Church, present at the creation of the Synod, and on the board of Wittenberg University.  First opened for tour in 1975., it was extensively upgraded and redecorated by David and Patty Grant.  Helen Yount bought this house from David and Patty Grant in the summer of 1989.  It is the historic Wells house, built for “Father” Hugh Wells in 1871.  Beautiful inside and out.

Manchester College Administration Building *  Tickets will be for sale the day of the tour at the Administration Building which is a stop on our tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Manchester College.  This building is actually the culmination of a 1920 project which joined Baumgerdner Hall (1889) and the Bible School (1895) separated by 132 feet.  The four-story bell tower houses the college bells which are rung twice daily.  Happy birthday, Manchester College!

 1989 Officers

President   *  Bob Nelson
Vice President
  *  Max Kester
  *  Evelyn Niswander
  *  Lola Sanger
Newsletter Editor
  *  Nancy Reed

 A Holiday Stroll in North Manchester by L.Z. Bunker, M.D.

[Editor’s Note: This was written at Christmas 1957 for the children of Mr. and Mrs. John Roberts who lived in the old Willis house at 305 West Main Street.  The oldest boy, Charles, had severe bouts of asthma, and Dr. Bunker spent considerable time with him.  The children had come from Marion, Ohio, and were interested in their new home.  In her protracted visits to Charles, she used to tell the children stories about their house and the town, and the following was the result.  Charles outgrew his asthma and is a pediatrician in Shawnee Mission, Kansas]

Now that our Christmas dinner is eaten, let’s put on our coats for a stroll in the original part of North Manchester, reminding ourselves some of the things that are missing and pointing out a number of original buildings, present 100 years, which are still standing and in use today.

The first plat or plan of North Manchester was small, bounded by the Eel River on the south, the alley by the News-Journal building to the west,  Wayne Street on the east, and all reaching to Third Street in depth.  This was laid out in 1836, but it was soon seen that it should be expanded, so the present boundaries of the original plat were set up several years later.

The second plat, which is now called the ”original” on tax receipts, was extended to Elm Street on the west and to Fourth Street on the north, the other boundaries being unchanged.  So there were 24 squares plus the single line of lots on the river bank.

To see what many of the store buildings looked like, let’s take a quick look at the warehouse behind Mike’s restaurant at 602 West Main Street.  [Formerly the old Lutheran Church which burned mid-1980’s and torn down.  The Mike’s building is now occupied by Schrader Auto Parts.]  The roof line and cornice of this structure has never been altered, and it has its original proportions in the architectural style of the Greek Revival, a simple Doric style, in this area always built of wood.

This building had been a meeting house, store, and a warehouse.  It migrated back and forth across Main Street, finally settling blocks away.  Most buildings were unpainted 100 years ago, though a few were painted and most had shutters for there were no screens.

At 306 West Main Street the Mrs. Calvin Ulrey residence has preserved much of its original appearance.  This house was also moved from its original site next door to the library

All the old buildings had many-paned windows filled with hand-blown glass.  If you can find an old window, look for the flaws, specks and swirls in the little glasses.

A mansion sat back of the grove of pine trees and poplars at 207 West Main Street where Bender’s Funeral Home now stands.  It was a large two-story house with slatted galleries and many windows.  This house was moved just back of its original site, to 105 South Elm Street.  Most of the pines have died or have blown down, and a huge sycamore also had to be cut down a few years ago.  There are still quite a few of the original locust trees in and around North Manchester.  A few remain at the rear of the Lutheran Church.

Since we are on Elm Street, let’s walk down to the turn which is South Street and look down the river.  Great cottonwood trees grew here, and on the flats by the river was a tan yard.  Here hides were cured and made into leather, for everyone’s boots and shoes were made here, also saddles and harnesses,
door hinges and many small leather articles, such as buckets, latch strings, and rawhide thongs.

Behind the tan yard was an Indian camp, with cook fires and brush huts for shelter.  The Indians had been expelled from this area about the time the town was laid out, but many wandered back from Oklahoma during the summers and camped and hunted near their old homes.  There was an Indiana cemetery below town, but it had not been used for many years.

Let’s retrace our steps and stop and look at the building at the rear of 202 West Main Street, facing the Public Library along the alley.  This was a kind of house often seen in the early days, built by Irish “Canalers” and frequently occupied by two families.  Note the old doors and windows in this ancient building. [Since this was written this charming little structure has been torn down.]

Around the corner on the corner of Front and Second are two houses right out of the early days, the Burdge [Schannep] house on the southwest corner and the Karl Young house [Eckert] at 202 West Second street.  Imagine these houses without their porches, and they are almost as they were 100 years ago.

At that time, however, there were very few plants and bushes or well-kept yards, as lawn mowers had not been invented.  Every house was surrounded by a stout fence of wood pickets, with gates, as cows and pigs ran loose and were pastured on vacant lots called commons.

Each house or business establishment had a well and wooden pump with a gourd dipper hanging by to drink out of.

Walking east on Second Street to the corner of Walnut, we come to the Lantz house, a large two-story building which is the rear part of the Sheller Hotel.  It originally sat on the corner but was moved to the rear when the brick building was constructed.  It was painted yellow, probably with the Yankee recipe of yellow ochre and buttermilk for paint, as we know it was not common.  [This building has been reduced in size by half and sided but looks much as it did 100 years ago.]

Scattered among the large houses were occasional log cabins, but those were soon boarded over to be more up-to-date.  North Manchester was never a log cabin or frontier-type town for a sawmill was one of the largest enterprises, and timbers and boards were used almost from the beginning.  One old log cabin remained on 303 East Second Street until about 1915.  It consisted of two rooms and a lean-to for a kitchen.

Let us walk down Mill Street to the Ulrey Mill [North Central Cooperative].  There has been a sawmill and woodworking plant here since soon after the town was founded.  It is said that the river was dammed up here to provide power.  Since there were no bridges, barrels were got across the river on a rope trolley.  There was also a ford in the river.

There was no railroad in Wabash County until 1857, so all goods and supplies came overland by wagon or by canal boat to Lagro then overland.  Fort Wayne and Detroit were cities supplying this area; Chicago in 1857 was not a merchandise center. 

As we walk up the hill again we will walk along the south side of Main Street.  At the corner of Mill and Main was a vast building, old in 1857, and variously called “The Beehive” or “Catchall.”  It was a rendezvous for tramps, wanderers, and pioneers who were then called “movers.”  It is said the night it burned to the ground the fire chief appeared with a bottomless bucket and no one lifted a hand to save the building.

In 1857 North Manchester had no organized fire department, no water supply except wells, so many buildings burned to the ground

On the northwest corner of Mill and Main Street is the Hamilton House [now owned by Richard Deveve].  Think of this house without porches and look at the Mill Street doorway.

Many stores bought hides, fur, sheep pelts, tallow and beeswax, so the air was rank with these things.  Freshly butchered hog and beef hung outside the butcher shops in winter.

There was no pavement, no gutters or curbs, no drains or sewers, no sidewalk except a gravel path, no street lights in 1857.  Main Street was a vast expanse of mud and water from November to May.  If one had to be out at night, he carried a lantern with candle it

There were hitchposts in front of stores, and wagon teams and saddle horses were tied to them as their owner traded.

Walking west on Main Street there were various houses, some rebuilt log structures.  Tinners, shoe cobblers, tailors, and harness makers worked busily as almost everything was made by hand.  Furniture and coffins were made locally.   The druggist made prescriptions from herbs gathered in the neighborhood.

The original trading post on the bank of the Eel River, founded by the Harter and Cowgill families, stood at 125 East Main Street.  Originally made of logs, it was later boarded over.

Lutz’s store at 111 East Main Street, sold general merchandise and just about anything needed in that day: yard goods (calico and merino), candles and candle molds, tinware, needles and thread, patent medicine, tea, coffee, salt and sugar, and chewing tobacco. [See photo taken from one of the  oldest photographs of North Manchester from the collection of Dr. L.Z. Bunker. ]

There was no ready-made clothing, packaged groceries, fresh fruits or vegetables.  Once in a long while a few lemons could be obtained.  You can see that living in those days was not only simple but simplest.

So far as anyone knows, the jail has been in about the same place since the town was founded.  It originally was built of logs, then replaced by stone and brick.

Various church congregations met in a large and drafty wooden building near the site of the present Lutheran Church.  This was later moved across the street and finally torn down.

Next to the northwest corner of Main and Market was a large frame house which was moved to the [northwest] corner of Maple and Fifth Streets.  This house is altered very little except for some windows and front porch.  It has been in constant use.

These are a few of many remains of our town’s past ties with the pioneers.  It is hoped this will be interesting to you and will lead you to learn more about the early days in our community.