413 W Michigan
413 W Michigan was located near the intersection of Michigan Street and Indiana Avenue. The house was originally constructed around 1879 for Charles J Kuhn. Over the course of its life, it was home to butchers who owned and worked next door at the Kuhn & Sidlinger Meat Market, a funeral home called Shelton & Willis, and the Jefferson Hotel among other things.
The Kuhn Family and Meat Market
Charles J Kuhn was born around 1819 in Württemberg, Germany. He emigrated to the United States and settled in Indianapolis around 1957. He ran a butchery and meat market at the corner of Michigan and Indiana from around 1959 until his death in 1896. The family moved into 413 W Michigan (213 W Michigan at the time) after it was built around 1879. Charles married Friederike Reinert and they had four children who lived into adulthood including Emma born in 1859, William born around 1866, Bertha born around 1871, and John born around 1876. Additionally, they had five children who died young or in infancy. William and John both followed in their father's footsteps and worked as butchers in the family meat market. Bertha married Albert De Prez and moved to Shelbyville, Indiana while Emma married Peter Sidlinger who was a butcher and would become a partner in the family business.
While Charles was alive, the business was known as the Charles J Meat Market and then the Kuhn & Sindlinger Meat Market as seen on the 1887 Sanborn map. Following Charles Kuhn's death, the meat market became the Peter Sindlinger Meat Market for a time until Peter Sindlinger's death in 1903. At this point, William and John took over the business and it was renamed the Kuhn Bros Whole & Retail Meats. The family moved out of 413 W Michigan following their mother Freiderike's death in 1909 but their business continued to operate next door at 407 W Michigan until around 1943.
Lucas B Willis Funeral Home
Lucas B Willis was born in Kentucky in November of 1874 to Sam Willis and Appaline (Reynolds) Willis. He worked as an undertaker in Frankfort, Kentucky for prominent undertaker Thomas K Robb until he moved to Indianapolis in 1900 to work for a well-known Indianapolis undertaker, C.M.C. Willis (no relation). In 1903, Lucas Willis married Cora L Christy in Indianapolis. Lucas Willis was professionally trained in embalming having taken a post-graduate course at the Renouard Training School for Embalming in 1898 and having graduated from the Massachusetts College of Embalming of Boston. In 1904, Lucas Willis established a funeral home with James N. Shelton known as Shelton & Willis on Indiana Avenue following the dissolusion of Shelton's previous partnership with Ola H Morgan.
The Shelton & Willis partnership lasted until 1914 when Lucas Willis opened up his own funeral home at 413 W Michigan. Shelton continued to operate out of the Indiana Avenue location. Willis ran his funeral home at 413 W Michigan until he moved his business to 510-12 N West Street sometime between 1922 and 1924. Throughout his career, he was a prominent member of the national African American funeral director community, serving in important positions for many organizations. In 1905, he was elected Vice-President of the Colored Interstate Funeral Directors Association. Lucas Willis died on March 22, 1930. Following his death, his wife, Cora, took over as funeral director and continued operating the business at 510-12 N West Street until around 1934 when the last mention of the business appears in the Indianapolis Recorder.
413 W Michigan Today
Following the move of the Lucas B Willis Funeral Home, 413 W Michigan became a hotel. Between 1968 and 1984, the building was home to a menswear store called the 413 Shop. The address disappeared from the city directory in 1984 as the house was moved to 340 W Michigan due to the construction of the American College of Sports Medicine. Indiana Landmarks was responsible for the move and the building became their headquarters. In 1989, the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places due to its architectural importance. Indiana Landmarks eventually moved their headquarters and today the building is occupied by IU Studios.
Written and edited by Hannah Ryker, May 14, 2020
With contributions by Lorna Dawe