The home of 1012 West Spencer Avenue is built on a beautiful, quiet, residential street of Marion, Indiana. The lot was first owned by Robert J. Spencer (abstract) who owned several other lots on the same street, Spencer Avenue, which was named after him. The 1012 Spencer home sits between streets D and E on the central part of Spencer. It is a pale yellow house with green trim and is set up on a slight hill above the street. The home has very close neighboring houses on each side, each about the same style and age as the 1012 home. It is unknown exactly when the home on 1012 Spencer was built, but it is believed to be built between 1900 and 1910. The abstract of the house shows ownership of the lot in 1900, but in the 1900 census, the address of the home was not listed; therefore a home was not yet built. Although, in the 1910 census, a listing did appear under the address of 1012 West Spencer Avenue, so during that time a home was built.
Most of the early owners of the lot of 1012 West Spencer Avenue are found in the abstract of the home but not the city directory of Marion. This could mean that the early owners just owned the lot in Marion, but lived in a different city or state. The first two owners found both in the abstract and in the Marion City Directory were Harry A. Ford in and Washington Lowe. The treasurer of the Grant Trust and Savings Co., Harry A. Ford, and his wife Stella were said to be owners of the lot in 1903 to 1904, but were found in the city directory of 1904 to be living at a home on the Southeast corner of Spencer Avenue and G. Washington Lowe was a owner of the lot in 1907, but was not found in the city directory at that time. He was found in the 1904 directory and was listed as a tax ferretour. Both of these people appeared to be owners of the lot who did not actually live on it, meaning a house probably was not yet built in the time that they owned it.
The earliest confirmed resident living in the house on 1012 West Spencer Avenue was Percy Nussbaum, director and teacher of violin at the Marion Conservatory of Music (1910 Census). Percy and his relative Hamilton Nussbaum founded the Marion Conservatory of Music in 1898 after studying in many cities throughout Europe (Grant County and Who’s Who). This institution, located at the corner of Seventh and Washington Streets at the time, was thought to be at the same caliber with other institutions in Boston, Chicago, or Cincinnati. Ambitious music students no longer needed to travel to these cities because of the excellent music program newly founded here in northern Indiana (Grant County and Who’s Who). Success was almost instantaneous and many famous musical stars studied there, including the great Cole Porter. Although Nussbaum was listed in the 1910 Census as living at the 1012 Spencer house, he was not listed as an owner in the abstract. Speculation arose that maybe Nussbaum rented the home at the time he was living in it.
A Succession of Butterworths
After Percy Nussbaum, several other owners were noted in the abstract but were not found in the Marion City Directory as living in the 1012 Spencer Avenue house. Alfred P. Butterworth was found in the abstract as being an owner of the house in 1920, but was said to be living in a different residence, 928 Spencer Avenue (1921 Marion City Directory). Many other Butterworths were also found to be living in many houses all along the Spencer Avenue at the same time. Alfred P. Butterworth was the treasurer at the Marion Shoe Company and many of his family members, including Gilbert Percy Butterworth, his brother, also held high titles with the Marion Shoe Company, and lived along Spencer. In the 1923 city directory, Alfred P. Butterworth’s son, Lindley Butterworth, no longer lived at the 928 Spencer Avenue home with his family, but at the 1012 Spencer home. He was listed in the city directory as the assistant sales manager at the Marion Shoe Company, but was not yet listed in the abstract as an owner of the 1012 house. Lindley served in the U.S. Army in 1919 and then moved back in with his family at 928 Spencer in 1921 (1919 and 1921 Marion City Directories). He was 26 years old when he moved into the 1012 house in 1923 (1910 Census). In the abstract in 1926, Alfred P. Butterworth finally sold the 1012 Spencer house to Lindley, three years after Lindley had moved in. Many Butterworth families continued on living along Spencer Avenue, but in 1934, Lindley Butterworth no longer lived in the 1012 home.
William H. Benton
After an information gap from 1934 to 1947, William H. Benton, Jr., Assistant Vice President of Manufacturing at Anaconda Wire and Cable, moved into the 1012 Spencer home and lived there for twelve years. When Benton sold the house in 1959, he was not in the city directory, but was said in the abstract to be living in Westchester County, New York. Just two years before that, the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company expanded and William Benton was no longer listed in the Marion City Directory, but was on the cover listed on the board of directors. Benton may have moved to New York after expansion of the Anaconda company.
In 1959, a widowed Mary Elizabeth Corbett, insurance executive, moved into the 1012 Spencer house. Just four years before moving in, in April 1955, her husband James W. Corbett died of a heart attack (Marion-Leader Tribune, April 1955). On July 28, 1960, only about a year after Mary Corbett moved into the home, she passed away of a long, eight month illness of cancer (Marion Leader-Tribune, July 1960). She left five children who were all minors to be with their guardian, her brother-in-law, George A. Wilkinson, production manager of Osborn Midwest Paper (1960 Marion City Directory). In the abstract, a great amount of papers were filed about the house and land Mary Corbett left along with her five children. Wilkinson owned the house for awhile in 1960, but the 1012 Spencer home was sold in 1961 to John E. Shepherd and his wife Joan Patterson Shepherd, who were both workers of Anaconda Wire and Cable. The house was again sold in 1962 to a supervisor of Anaconda, Walter Plate and his wife Elizabeth M. Plate, and then again in 1965 to William H. and Doris K. Lucas.
Lucas was a Traffic Analyst RCA and lived in the 1012 Spencer home for 17 years until selling it to William III and Michelle Shewan in 1982. William was the executive director for Youth for Christ Ministries, and he and Michelle had two children while living in the house, Jay and Jessica, who both went to Lakeview Christian School in Marion, Indiana. Today, Jeremy and Felicia Case live in the 1012 Spencer house along with their three daughters. Jeremy is a math professor at Taylor University and all three of his girls attend school in the Marion School Corporation.
The home on 1012 Spencer Avenue had many interesting owners throughout its years. Musical directors, factory and company owners, and even a professor roamed its halls at one time or another. Every person that owned or lived in the 1012 Spencer home is important to its history and its future residents will be important also.
- 1910 United States Census.
- Abstract of Title for 1012 West Spencer Avenue.
- Grant County and Who’s Who. The Special Company: Marion, Indiana, 1907.
- Marion City Directory.
- Marion Chronicle Tribune. April 21, 1955 and July 29, 1960.
- Marion-Leader Tribune. April 21, 1955 and July 29, 1960.
This article was written by Caitlin Bragg and submitted on May 20, 2005 for Mr. Munn’s AP US History Class at Marion High School.