Anderson Indiana: Queen City of the Gas Belt
Although Anderson is generally thought of as a factory town because of the numerous auto plants it once had, the Historic West 8th Street area is one of the most beautiful residential areas in the state. Many of the homes date to the gas boom around the turn of the century, and some are even older. This street, now lined with electrified gaslights, helped Anderson earn its title as "Queen City of the Gas Belt." This area once attracted the elite of the city, which included several early automobile manufacturers and men associated with the glass industry. During the time of the Indiana gas boom, no pipelines were in place to transport the natural gas required by glassmakers. Therefore glass plants were built wherever natural gas was found. Indiana's most beloved poet James Whitcomb Riley lived in the 500 block while he wrote for the Evening Democrat, although the house he occupied is gone.
The city of Anderson has a self-guided walking tour that you can download at http://www.cityofanderson.com/documentcenter/view/340. If you need to rest a bit during your walk, stop in at the Elmo A. Funk Park. The land was donated to the city by Elmo's son Thomas to commemorate his father's contribution to Anderson. Elmo Funk owned the local Coca-Cola bottling franchise and was a member of the Anderson Rotary Club for over 50 years. Each year the club names a winner for its Elmo Funk Ideal of Service Award.
Jefferey Ferris House
The Jefferey Ferris House is an example Queen Anne style architecture, which was popular from 1880 to 1900. This house was built during the latter part of this period, in 1896. The round tower is typical of this style. Ferris was superintendent of the Sefton Manufacturing Company. This home was fully insulated, which was unusual in 1896, with corrugated paperboard made by Sefton. Later owners of this impressive home included a couple executives of Union Grain and a prominent local attorney. It is located at 322 West 8th Street.
Albert C. Davis Home
The Albert C. Davis Home is an example of Italianate architecture, which features round arched windows on the second floor. This style was popular in Indiana from 1855-1880. Located at 431 West 8th Street, it was built in 1879 and purchased by John Lovett in 1885. Lovett was one of the founding members of the Anderson Board of Trade. The Anderson chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded here & Lovett's wife served as its first president. Charles E. Wilson, general manager of Delco-Remy (a division of General Motors) lived here in the 1920s, prior to moving to the Thomas Wright House.
Neil C. McCullough House
The Neil C. McCullough House at 226 West 8th Street, with its two story columns, is an example of the Neo-Classical style, popular from 1895-1930. The original building was constructed in 1879 for Mr. McCullough, who founded the Citizens Banking Company nearly 25 years earlier. The original building was simpler - The columns were added much later. In 1967 it was purchased and donated to the city of Anderson, which used it to house the Anderson Fine Arts Center until 1998. Dr. Loudermilk, a dentist, restored the home in 2003 and it currently functions as a dental office.
Thomas W. Wright House
Thomas W. Wright House at 403 West 8th Street was completed in 1903. The bricks were imported from England, along with the brick masons who stayed until the house was completed, which took two years. It is an example of the Free Classical style, which is an offshoot of the Queen Anne style that adds classic elements such as the columns on the front porch of this building. It was popular for a short time (1895-1910) as the popularity of the Queen Anne style waned. The original owner of the property also owned the Wright-Rich Cut Glass Company and the Wright Shovel Works. In the 1920s it was purchased by Charles Wilson. Mr. Wilson later became President of General Motors and served as Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower administration.