Street Savvy: Dorman Street

The east side’s historic heart makes a comeback.
The Inventorialist

1. Hang Out
Perfectly presentable inside with a fetching patio out back, Dorman Street Saloon isn’t as divey as it was when locals knew it as The Mahogany Bar. “The Hog” still lives on as a nickname, but according to historian and Cottage Homer Joan Hostetler, the lore about a one-time mahogany countertop has never been confirmed. The vibrant billboard advertisement painted on the south side of the building, however, is original (and recently spruced up). 901 N. Dorman St., 317-237-9008,
2. Borrow
Walk through tiny Cottage Home Park to reach a new, larger gathering space. Your eye will dart to the bold shelter with a winged roofline, but the shed-sized Cottage Home Micro-Library will capture your affection. Step inside and peruse the free-loan selection, including a shelf of “speculative fiction.” 700 block of Dorman Street, 
3. Shop
Curiosities with a rural or industrial past life (like surveying tripods turned into floor lamps) share space with screenprints and pottery by local artists at The Inventorialist. After relocating several times, owner Kristofer Bowman, who’s always dressed in tattered finery, has settled into the perfect place: a drafty 1875 grocery store that used to share space with a neighborhood bar. To his delight, he says, “sometimes strangers will not exchange names, but they’ll exchange stories. Like, ‘My mom would send me down to the tavern to fetch my brother.’ I forget to sell stuff. I forget to make money.” 715 Dorman St., 317-513-7802,
4. Study
Residential landmarks distinguish the 700 block of Dorman Street. The 1892 Ruskaup-Ratcliffe mansion (you can’t miss it—look for the turret) and five sets of doubles across the way represent the city’s largest concentration of Vonnegut & Bohn designs. Inside the mansion, the firm left its signature: a shield with the owners’ initials. Stroll around to coo over the neighborhood’s predominant cottage style, all sherbet colors and spindled porches. Between St. Clair and North streets
5. Cross
Another reason to walk or bike down Dorman Street: You get to use the arched footbridge just below North Street, where Dorman crosses Pogue’s Run.

“We value the neighbors more than the shiny, totally restored perfect neighborhood. We have the best block parties and the best pitch-ins.” —Joan Hostetler, historian and resident

Society of Salvage
Society of Salvage

6. Pick
Sisters Sandra and Shelly Jarvis have a thing for old medical equipment, making for some startling discoveries in their cavernous store, Society of Salvage. If you’re looking for the weird stuff, head straight for the back wall and gawk at the complete contents of a dentist’s office. You’re more likely to leave with mix-and-match dinnerware, giant aluminum and plastic letters, and quality midcentury-modern furniture. 1021 E. Michigan St., 317-418-9501,
7. Decorate
Society of Salvage shares its warehouse space with Rewired Antiques. Owner and electrician Jeremiah Goss stocks more than 500 old, stylish light fixtures, spruced up and ready for installation. 1021 E. Michigan St., 317-512-9362,
8. Hunt
Looking for local fashion? Stop by the closet-sized showroom of Aesthetic Design, a company that promotes a handful of designers from here and beyond. It’s open by appointment and stocked with exquisite handbags from House of 5th and handpainted platforms by Houston-based Lauren Luna, featured in the British versions of Vogue and Glamour. 1021 E. Michigan St., 317-721-1633,
Grocery-cart chairs at Flat 12 Bierwerks
Grocery-cart chairs at Flat 12 Bierwerks

9. Sample
Flat 12 Bierwerks might be the lesser-known of the near-eastside breweries, but it has the edge on Sun King in at least two important regards. First, it’s open on Sundays, filling growlers and selling cold sixers when you’ve failed to plan ahead. And second, it has a bustling taproom and a fun patio (with neat repurposed–shopping-cart chairs) on which to drink. Recommended summer selection: the cool, refreshing Cucumber Kolsch. 414 N. Dorman St., 317-635-2337,
10. Stock Up
Food & Wine magazine has named Smoking Goose Meatery one of the best butcher shops in the country for cured meats. The goodies are made in the back of this facility, and the storefront opens Thursday through Saturday to sell packaged black-truffle salame, Mexican chorizo, smoked lamb bacon, and other carnivorous delights. 407 N. Dorman St., 317-638-6328,
11. Relax
The land for Highland Park in the Holy Cross neighborhood came from the family estate of Noah Noble, the fifth governor of Indiana. Now the hilly spot with a skyline view offers a great perch to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over downtown. 1100 E. New York St.,

Take It Home:

Aluminum letter, $25 at Society of Salvage
Screenprinted photos of Indy landmarks, $20 each at The Inventorialist
Flat 12 Bierwerks t-shirt, $15 at Flat 12 Bierwerks

Photos by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the July 2014 issue.