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Trolley Yard/North Side High School/Centlivre Brewery 1927

By Randy Harter

Fort Wayne Reader


As a former “Redskin”, I’ve always especially enjoyed this aerial picture taken in the spring of 1927, just months before North Side High School would open in the fall. As there is a lot going on in this image, I’ve taken the liberty of numbering some of the features to make it easier for me to wander around it.

1. This is the old Rudisill School built on Elizabeth Street in 1874. It was replaced by the new Rudisill School built on Spy Run Ave that opened in 1914. Both are now gone.

2. In 1905 the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Co. (which by the time of this image had become Indiana Service Corporation, and later became I & M) owner of the trolley system in Fort Wayne, announced they would be building a $1,000,000. steam-generated electric power plant at Spy Run and Elizabeth St. The plant, which housed four giant turbines, not only supplied the electricity to run all the city’s trolleys (in 1930 there were 110 on the streets), but also provided electricity for 45 other area towns and cities. Eventually becoming obsolete, the power plant was razed in 1962-63. I & M sold the transit system, which we now know as Citilink, in 1948.

3. At the end of each day all of the city’s streetcars, and later electric motor coaches (buses) and propane and diesel buses would come to these “yards” where they would be cleaned, repaired if needed, and spend the night.

4. Replacing its iron predecessor, the State Street Bridge was built in1919 complete with trolley rails running over it. Note the four houses along the river between Spy Run and the St. Joe River.

5. North Side High School, designed by Charles Weatherhogg, was still under construction and would welcome its first class in the fall. Visible is the gymnasium waiting for its roof.
6. Brewery founder, C. L. Centlivre’s Queen Anne style house, built in 1888 is still standing today on Spy Run north of State Street.

7. The Centlivre Brewery was built in 1862 and rebuilt and expanded a number of times. While this image was taken during Prohibition (1920-1933), the brewery resumed production in 1933, and in 1961 changed its name to Old Crown Brewing. The company ceased production in 1973 and the last of the buildings was razed in 1989.

8. For many years the site of the city’s circus grounds, this was originally the Centlivre Beer Gardens to which revelers traveled from downtown in the open-sided horse-drawn trolley line that the brewery owned. In later years, it became a horse track, riding academy, and is now the site of Centlivre Apartments.

Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, author and the history/architecture guide for FortWayneFoodTours.com

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