1st home built 100 years ago still stands

Andrea Estes, a lifelong Hoosier, has walked through several centerpiece homes at the Indianapolis Home Show. She had no idea she was living in one. 

The roots of her home, on North Emerson Avenue near East 13th Street, have been traced back 100 years to the first home show in 1922.  

“They built a small bungalow house inside one of the buildings at the fairgrounds,” said Brent Keller, vice president of Marketplace Events and a former home show manager. “It was an advertising, fun way to show people what they could have. That’s what started everything 100 years ago.” 

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After the show, the house was taken apart and moved to its current location on Indianapolis’ east side, Keller said.  

Bob Estes and his wife Andrea Estes outside an Emerson Avenue home that might be the model for the original one in the first Indianapolis Home Show in 1922.

“It’s a typical older house where the kitchen is small,” Estes said. “The appliances were not nearly as big back then as they are today. The closets are nice and tiny. We’ve been here 21 years and have loved the house and especially the neighborhood.” 

The Indianapolis Home Show is the oldest of its kind in North America, drawing 450 home building, remodeling and design exhibitors as well as 80,000 attendees, according to its website. It was started by Indianapolis resident J. Frank Cantwell after he attended a similar show in Europe.  

“He brought that back and thought it would be a great way, coming out of World War I, to get people interested in owning their own homes,” Keller said. “The centerpiece home has always been a very ship-in-the-bottle-type effect. People are amazed we can build such a structure indoors in such a small time frame.” 

Managing Director of the Indianapolis Home Show J. Frank Cantwell , center, views plans of the centerpiece home while it is being constructed on April 7, 1957.

Estes was surprised and even a little skeptical to learn she was living in the first centerpiece home. Marion County Assessor’s Office records online indicate her home was built in 1940, with a garage added in 1989. County Assessor Joseph O’Connor said the office has limited records dating back that far and address changes through the years could make verifying the home’s age a challenge. 

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