Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

For sale: The Boardman House

21

The Boardman House is for sale! Built in 1834, it may be the oldest house in Indianapolis.

Boardman House de-ivied

When David Boardman and his son built his house here on the old Michigan Road, the Indianapolis city limits were almost ten miles away. He and another fellow, James Fee, had founded a town they called Augusta on this ground two years before.

I’ve told this house’s story before: Boardman and son built this house the hard way. They made the bricks from clay they dug from this ground, and cut the timbers from poplar and ash trees that grew here abundantly.

Augusta didn’t thrive. It was bad timing, really. A railroad went in a couple miles to the west, making the old Michigan Road much less a source of prosperity. In the 1850s, residents pulled up stakes and built the town of New Augusta alongside those tracks. (New Augusta remains; see some photos here.)

As Indianapolis grew, it eventually swallowed little Augusta. Not much is left today – a few old houses on the original plat’s few streets. It’s all strip malls and subdivisions to the north and to the south. Michigan Road is now four lanes wide, and is constantly choked with traffic.

The property is being sold by a commercial real-estate firm as office space. The fellow who owns it now, whom I once met, both lives in it and operates a business in it.

The Boardman House can be yours for $194,000.

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I think that the house across the street
is a log cabin! What do you think?

21 thoughts on “For sale: The Boardman House

        1. Lone Primate

          I visited Ireland for a week in 2009… stayed with friends in Ballymun. They showed me much of downtown Dublin, and we got out to Meath and then did a circuit of Ulster where my family’s from. Much of Dublin was familiar by pictures and by its modernity… other parts of Ireland were unlike anything I’ve ever seen here in Ontario. Unforgettable.

          Might I ask, if I’m not stepping on Jim’s toes here, whereabouts in Ireland you live? :)

  1. Lone Primate

    THAT place, inside Indianapolis, is under $200K? I’m genuinely surprised. Has it been vacant a long time, or not kept up?

    Given the history you just told, you’d think the place would be nigh-on priceless. I hope someone who’s able picks it up and does the right thing by it.

    1. Jim Post author

      Indiana is a notoriously inexpensive place to buy a house. I’ve seen other historic properties go for less. Jeez, the 1840s farmhouse that sits on the Michigan Road pretty much around the corner from me went for under $50k, though it did need considerable work.

      I don’t know the condition of the Boardman House, although I have to assume it’s in at least good shape as a fellow lives in it and runs his business out of it.

  2. Jennifer S

    That is a beautiful house. And interestingly, we have a similar story here. The nearby town of Forestville was swallowed up by Wake Forest in the late nineteenth century, also because of the railroad. The original Forestville depot was moved to WF to accommodate students at the college who didn’t like walking the two miles into campus. (Really, college kids make such crazy demands.) So the RR moved the depot and Forestville died. Just like in your story… all that’s left are a couple houses at a crossroad with a historic marker.

    1. Jim Post author

      There isn’t even a historic marker for poor little Augusta. A few businesses in the area have Augusta in their name, but honestly, I lived here ten years before I knew about Augusta the former town and why those businesses were so named.

  3. ryoko861

    Needs landscaping! It would have better curb appeal. Right now it looks really run down. If a R/E agent brought me to this, I wouldn’t be excited about going inside. All I would be thinking is all the reno that has to be done. Maintaining a building that old takes alot of money. I hope he sells it to someone who’ll bring it back to it’s original splendor. Too bad it’s in a section that’s run down. To the right person, this could be the perfect opportunity!

    1. Jim Post author

      The widening of the road over the years has created a very challenging situation for this house’s front yard. And because it’s on a major Indianapols thoroughfare, it’s hard to sell this as a residence. Check it out on Google Street View:

      http://goo.gl/maps/cfsRP

      The house itself is actually in pretty good shape, at least externally, given its age and construction.

      1. ryoko861

        Get the ivy off of it. Trim back the tree on the side. So something with the screens in the windows. It looks abandoned! Being that it is on a corner does create challenges. No, not a residence, but a lawyer maybe or finance or accounting firm. SO much potential! If I had the money…….

        1. Jim Post author

          You’ll get no argument from me about the external improvements that need to be made. Also this house isn’t actually on the corner, that’s just a driveway next to it. So that challenge isn’t really there.

  4. Kevin W.

    Jim,

    Growing up in Rochester, I may be able to shed a little light on the post about the old one lane bridge north of town and the alignment through town.

    First of all, the old canopy steel arch one lane bridge followed the exact alignment of the current concrete bridge. The old stone structures for a bridge that preceded the steel one lane bridge, replaced in 1982. The one lane bridge was constructed in 1916. The current bridge follows the alignment of it’s immediate predecessor exactly (see this link) :

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Ju9lAAAAIBAJ&sjid=G3QNAAAAIBAJ&pg=1118,837961&dq=us31+one+lane+bridge&hl=en

    Second, College Avenue had to be the old State Route 1 proceeding south from Downtown Rochester. College Avenue was different from other Rochester city streets in it’s concrete with expansion joint construction. Movement of traffic to the current alignment of Old 31 probably happened during the 1930’s and 1940’s as commercial development increased. I used to ride my bike extensively in the area during the 70’s, and I remember old timers commenting on College Avenue being the old highway.

    My brother and I used to patronize an old store called the Packard Grocery at the corner of College Avenue and 14th St. this was in the late 1960’s. It would have been on the main drag in the 1920’s-1930’s, but was off the beaten path by the 60’s.

    1. Jim Post author

      Kevin, thank you very much for filling in some details here. I had no idea that the 1916 bridge followed the current bridge’s alignment. I knew there was a previous bridge, but I figured that one followed the current alignment. Whatever; it’s great that the stone abutment remains.

      Thanks especially for the link to the newspaper article! I was a small boy in 1971 and only very, very dimly remember a time before the current 4-lane US 31.

      Next time I drive through Rochester I’m going to drive College Ave. I assume that by now its concrete is covered with asphalt. There may have been more than one alignment of SR 1 through town over the few years that route existed. One of my old road guides, from 1916 , sends drivers south down Main St., then east and then southeast down 14th St., then south down Liberty Rd., and calls that SR 1. But the jig-jog to stay on 14th when it reaches College is awkward. A route south on Main, east on 12th, south on College, then southeast on 14th to Liberty Rd. would be easier to navigate.

      My research shows that expansion joints were an innovation of the early 1920s. Concrete roads laid prior to then tended to be unjointed.

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