Monday, April 8, 2013

Glossbrenner House

During the early 20th Century, North Meridian Street provided the setting 
for the homes of many of the city's wealthy and influential citizens. 
One of these people was Alfred Glossbrenner, a prosperous businessman who, 
along with his wife Minnie and their three sons, were active politically 
and socially in the city's affairs. 

An English architect, Alfred Grindle, who immigrated to the United States in 1888,
was commissioned by Glossbrenner to design this house, which was
completed in 1910. The family hosted many gatherings in their home, many
of which were held in the third floor ballroom.
After World War II, the house was sold to Dr. Joseph Walther,
who converted it to medical offices for his clinic, added an extension
to the house, then built Winona Memorial Hospital in 1966,
the first of the city's private, for-profit hospitals.
The doctor sold the hospital in 1985, it closed altogether in 2004 and became
an increasingly worrisome blight on the area. 
After those buildings were finally razed and the addition removed, 
the Walther Cancer Foundation donated the house
to the Indiana Landmarks Foundation, which they knew would protect it.

The ILF hosted a showing last week for potential buyers. 
A portion of the exterior facade that had been connected to the extension has been
restored by the Foundation, along with some features on the first floor, 
and the roof has been repaired. 
It was surprising to me that so much of the original features of the home remain.
Even though many of the rooms were cut up into smaller enclosures,
the woodwork seems intact, many of the lighting fixtures remain, as well as
a lot of the doorknobs, with English primrose decorations 
that are featured throughout the house, 
including the main staircase and stained glass windows.

For many years, I passed this house on my way to and from work, 
and was dismayed at the tan-colored brick extension 
growing from its north side. When the hospital was closed and 
no buyers could be found, I was afraid the house would fall 
to the wrecking ball, along with the decaying 1960s structure 
to which it was conjoined. Thankfully, that did not happen, but the
house needs someone to love it, who will restore its
polished glory, as well as bring it safely into the 21st Century.


Upon seeing the electrical conduit stuck through the ballroom floor,
I overheard one man remark that he didn't realize there
were pole dancers working in 1910. The red pipes are for the
sprinkler system that was added to satisfy the fire codes.
I am virtually certain the new owners will have a new system imbeded 
in the ceiling, when he replaces the cracked, crazed, 
and broken plaster that exists throughout.


The original home had features that constituted the cutting edge technology 
of the time, including an electric butler call, intercom system, and a central vacuum cleaning system. The home originally had six bedrooms and with
7,000 square feet of space available, it could certainly be beautifully adapted
to suit many different types of needs. 

1 comment:

dive said...

Yay for Edwardian villas. I love 'em. We've got a couple of dozen in my village, down by the river. They're everywhere over here. I sometimes wish I could afford one but then (you know me) I think "Sheesh! All that cleaning and housework!"