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550 Minerva Street

550 Minerva Street

1975 photo of 550 Minerva Street. 

The house at 550 Minerva Street was located at the southwest corner of North and Minerva Streets. The 1887 Sanborn map indicates that the original building on the lot was much smaller than the house that occupied the area from the 1890s to the late 1970s. By 1898, the larger house had been constructed and the Temple family had moved into the house.  

The Temple Family

Carter Temple Sr was born around 1811 in Virginia and was likely enslaved in Kentucky prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. Immediately after the Civil War he moved to Indianapolis and first appears to be living on Minerva Street in 1866. At the time, he rented a house and worked as a laborer. In the ensuing years, he worked as a carpenter and lived in 184 Minerva, the home on the lot just south of what would become 550 Minerva Street. 

Carter Temple's son, Carr Hopkins (later known as Carter Temple Jr), was born in captivity in Kentucky in 1843 and served in the 14th Regiment Company C of the United States Colored Troops after being freed in 1863. After the conclusion of the Civil War, he joined his father in Indianapolis, working as a teamster until he became one of Indianapolis' first four African American police officers in 1876.

550 Minerva Street

Photo of Carter Temple Jr in his police uniform sometime after May 1876.

Carter Temple Sr died in 1888 and left 184 Minerva Street to his wife, Amanda. Amanda lived in the house until her death in 1894. Sometime following Amanda's death, the house on the corner of North and Minerva was either torn down or renovated, resulting in the larger house shown on the 1898 Sanborn map. Once this construction was complete, Carter Temple Jr moved into the house that would become 550 Minerva while his brother, George W Temple, one of Indianapolis' first African American actors, lived in the house next door.

Carter Temple Jr continued to work for the Indianapolis police force until he was in a street car accident in 1900. He lived at 550 Minerva Street until his death in 1929.

Carter Temple Jr's son, Carter F P Temple, served in the Spanish American War. He worked as a police officer for a year before resigning and finding a job in construction. He and his wife, Lucy Paris Temple, had a total of 11 children with 10 living to adulthood. One of these children was Ralph Louis Temple, who worked as a painter for most of his life. He graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in 1940 and attended the John Herron Art School until he enlisted in the army in 1943.

550 Minerva Street

Ralph Temple painting, date unknown.

Following WWII, from around 1949 to 1951, Ralph lived at 550 Minerva Street and was listed as a student, likely finishing up his degree at Herron. Shortly after, he moved to New York City. However, while he was living in Indianapolis, he painted some scenes from around the African American neighborhood on the west side including his family home, 550 Minerva Street. 

550 Minerva Street

Ralph Temple painting of Minerva Street, circa 1940.

Following Carter F P Temple's death on April 17, 1941, his wife, Lucy Paris Temple took over as head of the house at 550 Minerva Street. At the time, at least five of her children were living with her including Arthur, Bertha, Cecilia, Jane, and Ralph. She and her daughter Cecilia continued to live at 550 Minerva Street until 1979, the last year the city directory lists them as occupying the house. The following year the house was listed as vacant.

550 Minerva Street Today

The house at 550 Minerva Street disappears completely from the city directory in 1981. Today, the building known as University Tower sits in its place. 

550 Minerva Street

550 Minerva Street in 2019.

Research by Paul Mullins

Written and edited by Hannah Ryker, May 28, 2020

550 Minerva Street