Pine Lake Avenue’s evolution: Here are just a few changes along the way

This is a photo of Hess Grocery Market at the northeast corner of Pine Lake and Truesdell avenues, circa 1930s. (Photo provided; click to enlarge)

By Fern Eddy Schultz, LaPorte County Historian

With all of the activity anticipated along Pine Lake Avenue, it might be interesting to note some of the past in that area, especially in the 200 block.  

Fern Eddy Schultz

During the early 1920s, the north side of LaPorte was coming into its own, bringing considerable change to that area. There were three stores in the 200 block.  On the northeast corner of Truesdell and Pine Lake avenues, Charles H. Tyler was in the grocery business; on the northwest corner, Charles A. Heistand had the North Side Shoe Repair Service; and in the block just north of the corner, Carl Miller had a grocery and meat market. Between Tyler’s and Miller’s, there were two residences, homes of Tyler and Frank Rachor.

As of 1977, the Tyler building had been razed and the corner became the location of Spoor’s Auto Sales, a used auto sales, which remains today. Grocer Tyler operated in this location from before 1915 through at least 1921, when M. Ray Parkhouse and Harry L. Hoover were proprietors of the store, which was called Northside Grocery & Market. Later, Hoover maintained the store alone and then sold to E.E. Huber in 1931. James Hess became the proprietor about two years later and continued to operate a grocery until 1940. This corner then became a restaurant known as The Grove, but in 1949, Hugh E. Tyler maintained a confectionery here. It was in 1954 when Mrs. Mary E. Adams opened Mary’s Restaurant at this location. She continued this business until 1966, when it became Northside Dairy Store. By 1970, the dairy store was no longer in business.

Roy C. Blank, who had been employed at Advance-Rumely as a machinist, purchased the property on the northwest corner of Weller and the avenue in the 1920s.

There was continued growth on the North Side; a new school was built in 1920, known at first as the North Side School and later given the name of Riley School. On July 1, 1929, a new fire station was opened and new homes were being constructed rapidly in newly platted ”subdivisions.” By 1938, Blank had made extensive changes in what was to become known as the “Blank Corner.” Now offered in addition to groceries were fresh meats and supplies for fishermen, and customers could have their cars serviced with gas, lubrication and even washes.

As of 1945, Blank had left the business and Albert Hinton Sr. was the new owner. From about 1960, Charles Hickman worked for Hinton. When Hinton retired in 1968, Hickman purchased the store. On June 15, 1990, it was announced that the Hickman building was to be sold at auction. The store had actually been closed the first of April. This was the time when “Mom and Pop” groceries in LaPorte were becoming a thing of the past. It did not take long for the building to be purchased and demolished. It seemed like overnight that a new structure had taken its place — and that new building was Taco Bell Restaurant.

This is just a small part of the history of that area.

FERN EDDY SCHULTZ is the official Historian of LaPorte County. For more information on the county’s rich history, visit its museum and www.laportecountyhistory.org.

5 Responses to “Pine Lake Avenue’s evolution: Here are just a few changes along the way”

  1. TC

    Jan 14. 2017

    I realize you may not wish to publish this but about 10 years ago I worked with a guy from Michigan. We got to talking and I told him I was from LaPorte. He said when he was a teenager he and his father would drive to LaPorte to go to Hickmans because they had gambling tables in the back. He said you had to park a few blocks away so not to raise attention. He said you would walk back into the store and where you would turn a corner and expect to find to walk-in cooler there was a room full of gambling tables. He said $100 bills were everywhere. I was kinda shocked as I had shopped in that store before but had no idea. Wow.

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  2. Anne D

    Jan 14. 2017

    This is very interesting to me as is everything you write about our area. I grew up on Pine Lake Road . I remember walking to the store on the curve by Waverly Road. Our family would walk across the road to swim in the summer time. My grandmother used to sell plants in the spring, and was known as “The Pansy Lady.” My uncles delivered newspapers around the lake, and I remember walking on raised sidewalks to the homes where the condos now sit. Also, I used to babysit for the Hickmans after school (but knew nothing of the gambling tables….interesting!)
    Thanks, Fern, for another item of very interesting history.

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  3. SuzQuz

    Jan 14. 2017

    Oh, the memories!! Thanks, Fern. I grew up in Washington Park in the 40’s and 50’s. So much of this is familiar. I love your writings!

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    • Alva R. Miller

      Jan 19. 2017

      I also grew up in Washington Park at the same time as you. Perhaps we knew each other.

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  4. Mel

    Jan 15. 2017

    We must not forget the hospital also, a trampoline park where Mc Donald’s is now. Bob Powell’s Barber shop among other notables. Interesting on Hickmans. North side Pharmacy, Soetje Ford, and on and on…

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