Audio: “Transfer Corner” featuring Tom Castaldi. Courtesy of WBNI-Fort Wayne.
Transfer Corner was the intersection of Main and Calhoun Streets and named so because this was where all the street cars crossed and the conductors would give transfer slips to passengers. Interurban trains also shuttled back and forth as they traveled to outlying communities. Before there were trolley cars and trains, there were horse cars. At $2 a ticket, the horse cars could move in both directions. When it reached the end of the line, the conductor would unhitch the horse and lead it around to the other end of the trolley, then rehitch the horse and make the return run to the “turntable corner.”
In 1873, an epidemic flu called “Great Epizootic” struck nearly all of the horses in town, temporarily disabling the animals and public transportation. By 1890, efforts to electrifying the street railways became important. Marmaduke Marcellus Slattery, an inventor at the Jenny Electric Light Co. who was highly interested in battery technology, focused on the possibility of powering trolleys by battery. He gave up the effort after a failed experiment; he managed to propel a trolley along the “Belt Line” but it did not quite make the entire run of it.
Electrically powered “trolley buses” replaced trolley cars by the 1940s, the last trolley carran on Jan. 27, 1947 and in 1960 diesel powered buses replaced the trolley buses.
Due to the heavy traffic of Transfer Corner, businesses sprung up along Main and Calhoun streets. At the northwest corner of Transfer Corner, Reigel’s Cigar Store had a popular lunch counter business and sold tickets for shows and sporting events. Meyer Bros. Drug Store was located at the southwest corner. To the south of Transfer Corner along Calhoun St. was Rhode’s Dry Goods, S.S Kresge Co., Frank Dry Goods Co., F.W Woolworth, and Whelan Drug Co.; all of which were on the west side facing the courthouse. On the southwest corner of Berry and Calhoun was the Old National Bank of Fort Wayne and the Citizens Trust Co.
The major building at the intersection of Transfer Corner was the Transfer Building. Located at the northwest corner of the intersection and erected in 1894, the Transfer Building originally housed the old Hamilton National Bank. Hamilton Bank was founded in 1853 and merged with First National Bank in 1917. The new First and Hamilton Bank moved to Berry and Calhoun Streets after the merger the Citizens Trust Bank moved into the Transfer Building. These three banks, along with twelve other local banks, folded due to the Great Depression.
Over the years the building hosted offices to the Purdue Extension Center, the Republican Party, Lincoln National Life, Needham’s Typewriter Co., a shoe store, and many medical and legal offices. In December of 1963, the building was bought by the National Management Inc. and along with the Fort Wayne Mutual Life Insurance Co., moved their offices into the building. Transfer Building was torn down in 1979 to allow for the widening of Main Street.
Photos courtesy of Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society
- The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Group, ARCH Inc., Essex Group Inc., On The Heritage Trial, Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Walking Guide Book, (1994) pp.11-13.
- John Ankenbruck, 20th Century History of Fort Wayne, (1975), pp. 288-289.
- Kevin Leininger, “The Transfer Building.” NewsSentinel.com (Jan. 9, 1982).