Historical Images of Porter County

Specht, Finney & Skinner Company
Valparaiso, Indiana

Date: 1911
Source Type: Photograph
Publisher, Printer, Photographer: Joseph Decker
Postmark: Not applicable
Collection: Steven R. Shook
Remark: The structure housing the Specht, Finney & Skinner Company department store was located at the northeast corner of Main Street (now Lincolnway) and Franklin Street. A large fire sweeping the block in 1885 gave the block the nickname the "Burnt Block." Although damaged by fire, the building was saved and remodeled. The business originally began in 1876 by A. V. Bartholomew. Claus F. Specht, a new arrival in to Valparaiso in 1871 from Holstein, Germany, worked as a sales clerk for Bartholomew when he opened his store. In 1877, Stephen L. Finney, a nephew of A. V. Bartholomew, joined the business. After Bartholomew retired in 1882, Specht, Finney, and Peter Hesser purchased the business. Hesser was soon bought out by Specht and Finney in 1883. Hesser then began a business with William Freeman called Hesser-Freeman Company. Later, Specht and Finney formed a new corporation, joining in partnership with L. R. Skinner. This postcard photograph was taken on July 4, 1910. The public gathering commemorated the first run of the Valparaiso & Northern Railway interurban on the new line running from Valparaiso northward to Flint Lake. The first interurban left Valparaiso at 9:00 am in charge of Conductor C. C. Metsker. Valparaiso Mayor William F. Spooner, Valparaiso City Clerk Clem Helm, and other local notables were passengers on the inaugural sixteen minute, three mile trip to Flint Lake. An engine operated by Frank Chowdrey, hooked to two flat cars with seats and decked out in flags and bunting, followed the interurban to Flint Lake. A total of 3,500 passengers were transported to Flint Lake that inaugural day for the festivities. Incorporated in August 1908, the Valparaiso & Northern Railway construction was financed by citizens of Valparaiso and outside investors; the railway was to become one of the feeder lines the the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad. A section between Chesterton and Goodrum, located just north of Woodville, was completed and put into service on February 18, 1911. The section between Flint Lake and Woodville was completed on October 7, 1911; between February and October of 1911, a bus was used to transport passengers between Goodrum and Flint Lake. Complete interurban through service between Chesterton, Valparaiso, and LaPorte was possible after a bridge was constructed over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on February 17, 1912. Interurban service to Valparaiso ceased on October 23, 1938, largely due to the increasing use of automobiles, an improved highway system, and the financial depression.

Return to Valparaiso Businesses Images Index
Return to Porter County Photographs & Historical Images

Please contact the Porter County GenWeb Coordinator if
you can provide any additional information concerning this image.

Image and related text prepared by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul