Recently, I have been knee-deep in research for my National Register nomination of a near west side neighborhood here in Indianapolis. This neighborhood, which lies along the east side of Indy’s Riverside Park, was initially platted in 1902 by two local real estate moguls – Hiram W. Miller and August Wacker.
Hiram W. Miller was the Marion County Treasurer for several years and was certainly politically connected as there was at least one political scandal involving him. That scandal focused on his role as a vote inspector in the late 19th century and alleged that he cast votes for over a hundred men in the city’s mental institution, Central State Hospital, for a particular candidate without verifying the voters properly. This touched off a political firestorm and a discussion about the voting rights of individuals committed to mental health facilities and eventually culminated with a grand jury inquiry. I am still researching more particulars concerning Mr. Miller.
August Wacker is fairly well known for buying a lot of real estate around the city around the turn of the 20th century. Many of his acquired properties were located around the Riverside Park area In fact, he once lived in a farmhouse on the west side of the White River along the present day 30th street that is now the historic Iron Skillet restaurant. Mr. Wacker was a German immigrant who worked as a florist and gardener before coming to America. After arrival, he made his way to Indianapolis working for several years with A. Wiegand, a prominent Indianapolis florist and greenhouse owner. He eventually left Wiegand’s company and started his own greenhouse and transportation company supplying local businesses with flowers and vegetables. his business was lucrative for its first several years which gave Mr. Wacker the capital he needed to begin investing in real estate. This eventually became his chief pursuit. He was hailed during his life as a “community builder” because of his efforts to develop homes and neighborhoods across Indianapolis.