Percy Nussbaum House

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Built in 1886 the Percy Nussbaum house is located at 916 Spencer Avenue. The house has an interesting history and many interesting people that have lived there and left their mark on the house. Some of the main ones were John and Sarah Kersey, the original owners of the house. Percy and Delores Nussbaum, whom the house was named after. Josephine Nussbaum who left her mark in the life size portrait that was drawn of her. Percy and Josephine’s son, Lowell Nussbaum, a talented newspaper columnist. They have all left their interesting legacies in this house.

Original Ownership

John Avery Kersey in 1892
The original owner of the Percy Nussbaum house, John Kersey, was born on June 18, 1848 to Dr. Silas and Mary Lomax Kersey in Valparaiso, Indiana. When he was fifteen he enlisted in Co. I. 191st Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He fought in the battles at Knoxville and Cumberland Gap during the Civil War. He received his discharge and then reenlisted in Co. C. 139th where he continued to serve until the end of the war (“John A. Kersey”). John was married to Sarah Shutt in 1866. John and Sarah and two daughters: Mrs. Anna Thomas and Mrs. Delores Nussbaum (“Death Claims”). John was a prominent local attorney. He is also the author of “Ethics of Literature” (“John A. Kersey”). Sarah Kersey died on Saturday, June 29, 1918 at the age of sixty-one (“Death Claims”). John Kersey died on Tuesday, December 30, 1930 at the age of eighty-two (“Services Are Planned”). Both Kersey’s died of extended illnesses.

Nussbaum Ownership

After the deaths of John and Sarah Kersey, their daughter Delores Kersey occupied the Percy Nussbaum house. Delores was married to Percy Nussbaum on December 26, 1908. Delores was Percy’s second wife (Marriage Returns). Percy was born in LaPorte, Indiana. He studied music abroad for eight years. During those eight years he graduated from Pinello of Rome, Italy and from the Liepsic Conservatory of Music in Liepsic, Germany. He came back to Marion to find a place to open a music conservatory. Percy and his brother S. Hamilton Nussbaum opened the Marion Conservatory of Music in 1898. Percy was the directory of the conservatory and taught violin and orchestra. Percy died in 1916 (“A Conservatory”). Delores Nussbaum was a graduate of the Chicago Music College. She taught violin and harmony at Marion College. Percy and Delores had two daughters: Miss Mary R. Nussbaum, who owned the house after their deaths, and Mrs. Frank Williamson (“Rites Set”). Percy also had a son, Lowell Nussbaum, from his first marriage. Delores was a member of the Hostess House and the Symphony Society. She was the regent of the Francis Marion chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She died Tuesday, November 5, 1963 (“Well-Known Violinist”).

Percy Nussbaum’s first wife was Josephine Ruess Barnard (Marriage Returns). They had one son, Lowell Nussbaum on November 6, 1901 (Kutsch). She died shortly after. Percy wanted Lowell to be able to know what his mother looked like so he had a life size portrait of Josephine drawn. When Percy married Delores, she did not want to have the picture of his former wife in her house. She had Percy turn the portrait around and hang it backwards on the wall in the study so that the picture could not be seen (Plageman).

Lowell Nussbaum, the son of Percy and Josephine Nussbaum, was a journalist. Lowell worked as a laborer for the Indiana Truck Company until his father’s death. After his fathers death he became a circulator for the Marion Leader-Tribune. He graduated from Jefferson School in Fort Wayne in 1919. He then went to the University of Michigan for the next two years. In 1927 he started working at the Indianapolis Times. In 1938 he became a special assignments reporter and columnist at the Indianapolis Times. Lowell mentioned the idea of an Indianapolis Zoological Society several times in his column in 1944. A group of people tried to organize the society and succeeded in 1955. In 1964 the Indianapolis Zoo was opened to the public. The Indianapolis Zoological Society named the zoo’s administration building the Lowell Nussbaum Center in 1971. He was the president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild between 1942 and 1944. Lowell also helped found the Indianapolis Press Club and wrote the constitution that lasted for twenty-five years until it was first amended in 1972. He was the fourth president of the club (Kutsch).


Many people have owned the Percy Nussbaum house since the Nussbaums. Some of them are David Kessler, Michl Truitt, Ed Pollen, Randall and Elain Mishler, and Mike and Virginia Plageman and Leonard and Terri Pellman, the present owners. The Plageman’s found the painting of Josephine Nussbaum on the wall in the study and turned it back around so that the picture was visible again (Plageman). Many people through out history have left their mark on this house. Attorneys, laborers, authors, teachers, mothers, and fathers have all lived in the same house. Even though they have never met they share this one place in common with each other.


Submitted by Anna Leslie on January 5, 2004 in Mr. Munn's AP U.S. History class at Marion High School