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Picturing the Past 60: Belmont Avenue

Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 7:34 AM

The apartment building at 700 Belmont Ave. under construction during the summer of 1950. (T-G file photo)
I always thought the large apartment building at 700 Belmont Ave. was much older, but from July 21, 1950 here's a photo of what were then called the Cooper Apartments. They were under construction at the time.

Belmont Avenue today is a street in transition. Nice, older restored homes are mixed with a few newer homes, a few homes in deplorable condition and the remains of one fire-damaged house just sitting there rotting away.

Drive down Belmont sometime and really look at it, as opposed to just driving through to get from one place to another. In some ways it's like a time trip back to an older Shelbyville.


From 1958, here's a submitted photo (actually, I think this was a T-G photo, I've seen a similar negative here) of the Shelbyville Police Department. If you go to police headquarters you'll see a framed copy of this -- without the names.

Front row, from left, are Elgin Wynn, Roy Fann, Word Woodson, Davis Goosby, Bill Cantrell, Jack Stallings and chief Clarence Wheeler; second row, Raymond Arnold, Dave Bradford, Ernest Bartlett, Wayne Haithcote, Johnny Wheeler and Tommy Donovan. Back, "Mr. Brown" (I think this was Joe Brown, city manager at the time) and Joe Wheeler.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Thanks David for two more great pictures. In the Police Department photo, I remember all of them, and yes I think you are right that Mr. Brown's name was Joe. Notice that Roy Fann wears his hat cocked to the left. I never knew him to wear his hat any other way.

We were in Shelbyville this past week-end, and I made that trip down memory lane (Belmont Avenue) and remembered all of my schoolmates that used to live in the houses that you mentioned being restored or in a sad state of repair.

I also can remember when Prentice Cooper built the apartment building that you mentioned. After he had served as Governor from 1939 to 1945, he then served as Ambassador to Peru from 1946 to 1948 and then came home bringing two families from Peru with him that were very good construction men. It seems that Crab Orchard stone was one of his favorite building materials. He used that stone in the construction of many buildings in Shelbyville including the apartment building, his own home, and many others that are still standing today. Those were great days and now we hold on to great memories from those days.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 9:11 AM

Thanks for the pictures, David. Makes my heart skip a beat to see the building. I used to walk on Belmont in 1940 on my way home from the saturday matinee movie. The houses looked like mansions to me, since we lived in a small 4 room house on Elliot street. In 1939 we lived in Atlanta and Mom took us on the trolley downtown to see the parade for the opening of the movie "Gone With The Wind". I was standing on the sidewalk as Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh came by and a man moved in front of my sight. I got down on my knees and the concrete was cold, but I got a good look at them out between grown-up legs. One of the houses on Belmont had some enormous trees in the front yard and they always reminded me of the movies mansion called Tara.

So sad that the young of today have never known the warm culture of the pre-60s America and the glory days of mansions and lawns on a street like Belmont.

-- Posted by Grits on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 2:58 PM

I too remember construction of the Cooper Apartments...I also thought the homes on Belmont were neat with sunrooms and verandas as I walked to East Side School in the 1940's....You would have thought the 2000's housing boom would have revived the area...I especially remember a retired Dentist's home across from the Lyon's home which had a detached carport with a 1930's Packard underneath...None of the kids would believe its speedometer "registered" 120 MPH....

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 6:42 PM

Thanks for posting the picture of the police officers. Joe Wheeler was my grandfather and his brother Johnny was my great uncle. This picture brings back good memories, thanks again

-- Posted by Shelbyville native on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 8:52 PM

I lived in this apartment when I was around 4 or 5 years old which would have been about 1969. I remember riding my tricycle on the front porch and sidewalk out back and an older woman got mad at me for picking her flowers that were in a planter on the front porch on the far left apartment when you are facing the apartments. The outside hasnt changed much that I can tell from way back then.

-- Posted by AmericanWoman on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 8:55 PM

The old lady who yelled at American Woman, back when she was American Little Girl, may have been my great-uncle Charlie's widow, Miz Katie Hulan. (Charlie was a leather craftsman in Wartrace.) Anyway, she lived there -- I'm not sure in which apartment.

-- Posted by razyn on Wed, May 12, 2010, at 12:20 PM

I am so proud of d David Melson who was in my journalism class at CHS when I taught there in the 70s. His articles are always so interesting and beautifully written. I'm very thankful I can read them via computer, something unexpected way back then. It would be nice to hear from some of my students from 70-79. My email is wilrogmor@avenuebrtoadband.com. I'm a retired Vincennes Univeersity professor in Vincennes, Indiana.

-- Posted by oldprof on Sun, May 16, 2010, at 3:03 PM

I apologize for errors in my previous comment. It was finalized before I could make corrections.

-- Posted by oldprof on Sun, May 16, 2010, at 3:08 PM

I spoke to my mother about the apartments pictured. She was 11 years old when they were built. She told me she walked by those apartments every day on the way home from school. She said then she thought it was the "fanciest" building she had ever seen. It would be real nice if some of those older homes on Belmont were restored to their former beauty.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Tue, May 18, 2010, at 12:07 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.