Historically: THE CHARLES O. LARSON RESIDENCE
1001 Maple Avenue
Built in 1912
One of the seminal events in LaPorte business history occurred in July of 1908, when brothers Charles and Frank Larson partnered with brick mason Emil Danielson to form the Larson-Danielson Construction Company.
In 1905, Charles Larson purchased the previous structure then located at 1001 Maple Avenue. Such structure was, within a few years, removed, and Larson completed the current building in 1912. Larson made the lower "flat" a comfortable and modern "urban dwelling" for him and his wife Helen, while renting out the upper flat. (Anecdotal evidence suggests the building was built by Larson-Danielson; however, the company's early records are spotty, and this fact could not be firmly established.)
Charles Larson served as President of Larson-Danielson until his untimely death on April 7, 1919. After Charles's death, Helen resided elsewhere for a time, but returned to the building in 1924, moving into the upper flat with only son Irving Larson (and his wife Gladys), while leasing out the lower flat as a residence. Helen Larson died in 1933, with the building's ownership passing to Irving, who maintained ownership through 1939, before moving to Indianapolis.
After an ownership by Arthur F. and Wava Cutler from 1939-1946, the building was sold in March of 1946 to Dr. Carl N. Fischer and his wife, Theodora. Fischer came to LaPorte during World War II, serving in that era as Medical Director at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant. Upon purchasing 1001 Maple, Fischer remodeled the building, most notably closing in the lower front porch with glass blocks, so popular at the time. For 20 years, downstairs, Fischer served the citizens of LaPorte as a beloved family physician (and surgeon)...while upstairs, the family made its home. Fischer died in 1965, at the age of 51. Fischer's widow, Theodora, continued to occupy the upper flat, while very briefly renting out the lower flat to physician James J. Sprecher, before eventually occupying the whole building with her new husband, George Frye (a Personnel Director at Motorola in Chicago) and, at various times, some of the Fischer children. In 1978, the Fryes/Fischers moved just north of LaPorte, and city directories listed 1001 Maple as vacant from that year through 1982.
Ownership passed in September of 1982 to Don and Phyllis Benn. In a written narrative, special to the Candlelight Tour, Phyllis Benn recalls the time..."We bought the building in 1982 to establish my own law office, with the intent to live in the bright and spacious apartment upstairs. It required considerable renovation and decorating after years of vacancy, but the basic structure was sound. Over the years, other attorneys rented office space from me, designating the site as 'Maple-Madison Law Offices.' Those attorneys were Robert Szilagyi, Gary Schoof, and Gary Davis, who later founded their own partnership, and Kathy Johnson, now an administrative law judge. For a brief time, a hypnotist, George Baranowski, was one of my renters. Many changes were made in the front offices in those years, and a stairway was built to provide access to a lower level library and conference room. Don enjoyed the location, because he could walk to work at the Herald-Argus.” Don Benn's health failing, Phyllis closed her law practice, and the Benns moved to a one story house in 1994.
Title to 1001 Maple eventually passed to Bryan J. Wesolek in 1997, whose brother, Troy, spent many months pulling up old carpets (thereby exposing the original wood floors upstairs) and performing extensive renovation throughout the entire building on all the floors, woodwork, and walls. Bryan then operated his Data Limited business out of the entire building. With the business quickly outgrowing the building, Data Limited moved out to the new industrial park off Fail Road in 2001, and Bryan's wife Dana opened up the Bodywork Institute later that year. The Institute's services include therapeutic massage, reflexology, Pilates, and yoga. Dana and her associates believe the building is very conducive to meeting the needs of the Institute's clients, providing a comfortable, relaxed, and yet elegant setting. The Bodywork Institute is just one more incarnation for the building as a commercial structure.
While originally built as a "2 flat" residential structure, looking back over the decades, one can't help but marvel at the multi-faceted versatility and durability of 1001 Maple Avenue...a fitting testament to a man who had a tremendous impact on the built environment in LaPorte, Charles O. Larson.