6550 E. 16th StreetIndianapolis, IN
Summary of History and Significance
The Askren house is a significant example of the I-house style that was constructed all over the Midwest in the days before the Civil War. The house still exhibits many intact architectural features such as woodwork and built-in cabinets. The house was constructed by John Thomas Askren, a veteran of the War of 1812 who settled in Indianapolis in 1825, receiving 1,000 acres through the Homestead Act. He began constructing the present house in 1828, firing the bricks in the front yard and hand–making the doors, windows, and woodwork out of maple. The rear addition was constructed around the 1850's for hired hands for the farm. The farm maintained twelve hired hands year round and as many as twenty-four in the summer months.
Life on the Askren farm was completely self sufficient. The family performed all of its own canning, threshing, butchering, blacksmithing, and other farm activities and needs. Many other structures once existed on the farmstead, including a barn, ice house, blacksmith shop, corn crib, bank barn, and smokehouse. All but the smokehouse have since been destroyed.
An article entitled "The Past in our Present" written by Lynn Curry Schill, an Askren descendant, describes the opulent life in the house: "The big red brick house was quite a show place with its fine cherry furniture, mammoth organ with ceiling – high pipes, the huge fireplaces in every room, the shimmering chandelier and the 12-foot high, sculptured, plaster ceilings, only to mention a few of the finer points."
The original Askren farm was subdivided into many smaller farms as the family grew. That land, with the exception of the 9 acres on which the current house sits, has been developed as the city of Indianapolis grew. Benjamin Franklin Askren, John Askren's son, received the house as an inheritance after his father's death. Benjamin Franklin Askren's youngest son, Benjamin Harrison Askren, inherited the house after his father died, and passed it on to his wife after his death in 1956. Most of the Askren family is buried at the Anderson Cemetery at Pleasant Run Parkway and 10th Street.
The house remained in the family until 1989, when members of the Askren family sold it to developer Hess and Klein Holding Corporation. They had planned to restore the house and develop the land into condominiums, but that plan never came to fruition. According to the Warren Township Assessor's records, Charles Scott acquired the property in 1992.