2203 Broadway Street
Summary of History and Significance
The Gramse apartment building is significant for its architecture and its association with apartment construction in the City of Indianapolis in the early 20th century. It is an intact example of the type of multi-family building that was popular on the north side of the rapidly expanding city, where less density and higher architectural expression was prized. As the Indianapolis Star reported in May 1915, the "continuous demand for high-grade flats and apartment houses in the northern part of the city" was bringing about "quite a number of that style" during that time period.
Henry Gramse, the manager of Rex Wallpaper Store in Indianapolis, purchased the property in early 1914. In June that same year, the newspaper published a building permit which was issued to Gramse to construct an apartment building on the property. Less than a year later the building was finished and J.S. Cruse Realty Co. advertised its apartments for rent. By the time the 1916 City Directory was published, all six flats were occupied. Based on the Directory's list of tenants and their occupations, which included numerous high-profile jobs, the Gramse was an impressive and desirable address. Ready access to the electric streetcar lines that ran on both Central and College Avenues made these apartments an easy commute for tenants to and from their downtown work.
The Gramse is primarily Craftsman in style, with some eclectic design elements borrowed from other architectural styles such as Prairie and Beaux Arts. The Craftsman details displayed by the Gramse include second story decorative squared half-timbering on three elevations, cross-hipped roof, deep eaves, exposed rafter tails and earth-tone brick. Although this architecture style was common in single-family houses prior to World War I, there are few extant Craftsman apartment buildings in Indianapolis, suggesting that either this style was less popular in multi-family residential buildings of the period, or the other buildings of this style have not survived. In either case, the Gramse is rare as a surviving example of Craftsman-style apartment buildings.