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So where in the world did the name Wanamaker come from, for the town of Wanamaker, Indiana?
Let’s go to our history books to see who the 35th Postmaster General of these United States. See that? John Wanamaker. Appointed by Indiana’s own President, Benjamin Harrison in 1889, the Wanamaker family is said to have lived in the area for a time before returning to the big city, Philadelphia. In addition to being Postmaster General, Wanamaker is legendary in retail circles for inventing the price tag. Believe it or not, before him, nobody put a price tag on the products in stores.
Originally (in 1834), this small town/suburb - about nine miles southeast of downtown Indianapolis - was named New Bethel. But around that time everyone seemed to call their community New Bethel and they made the switch to honor the nation’s top mailman and department store guru.
In southeastern Marion County along Southeastern Avenue (get it?), Wanamaker is in the county’s Franklin Township School District. If you’re at the Marion County Fairgrounds and wonder what’s nearby, think Wanamaker.
One of Franklin Township’s claims to fame is their annual Old Settler’s Days, held annually in late June. For some three decades, the Franklin Township Lions Club has hosted a street fair, classic car show and fireworks display in downtown Wanamaker. Southeastern Avenue closes from Northeastern Avenue to McGaughey Road as booth vendors offer concessions and many unique products. A classic car show is also part of the festivities. At the end, revelers are treated to a large fireworks show at Franklin Central High School. Ooohs and aaahs all around.
Things about Wanamaker you may not know...
- The land around Wanamaker was originally purchased from the Chautauqua Indians. Southeastern Avenue was simply a trail cut through those woods.
- Call him George Bailey, not George Bowen! During the Great Depression, Wanamaker State Bank’s president George Bowen saved his bank when he persuaded depositors not to withdraw their money. Like George Bailey, he told them their money was safe - on loan to their neighbors. "The money's not here. Your money's in Joe's house right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house and Mrs. Macklin's house and a hundred others!"
- Successful late 20th and early 21st-century advertising executive and entrepreneur Kevin Anderson was born and raised in Wanamaker. Members of the Anderson family still live in the area.
- Nearby to Wanamaker, the Acton Campground was a hugely popular attraction - a church campground and Chautauqua site from 1859-1905. Cottagers lived there during summers, and for a time up to 40,000 people gathered for worship on Sunday afternoons.
Let's take a look at housing around Wanamaker:
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