ILNews

Indianapolis law grads reflect on Maennerchor years

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Not quite 50 years have passed since Indiana University’s law school in Indianapolis moved from the Maennerchor Building. The old place is long gone, but some of its last graduates gathered recently to share memories of a time that holds special meaning.

“I think everyone sort of had a common bond,” retired Marion Superior Judge Patricia Gifford said of lawyers who trained in the old downtown hall. “We all worked during the day and went to school at night.”
 

maennerchor-archive-15col.jpg From 1945 until 1969, law students in Indianapolis were educated in the Maennerchor Building that was located at the corner of Michigan and Illinois streets. Alumni of the predecessor to Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law recently paid tribute to their former school. (Photo submitted)

Gifford was among about 100 graduates of the Maennerchor school who gathered June 18 at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law to recollect and reconnect.

The Maennerchor, a former German music hall named for a choir still in existence, was the seat of education for aspiring lawyers in Indianapolis, located at the corner of Michigan and Illinois streets. The IU School of Law at Indianapolis affiliated with a predecessor institution, Indiana Law School, and opened in the building in 1945.

The university had recognized a need to train attorneys in the state capital in the postwar years, said Gerald Bepko, retired chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“The Maennerchor era was so important because it shaped the culture of the law school,” Bepko said. “These were hardworking, honorable people making their way up in the world. If you could create that in a laboratory, you would have something that would be priceless.”

Bepko also was a professor and then dean of the law school at IUPUI in the 1970s and 1980s, after it moved from Maennerchor. The law school initially was housed in Eskenazi Hall, now Herron School of Art, until the McKinney School opened at its current location in 2001.

“I think the school has made an effort to preserve that culture,” Bepko said of the Maennerchor years. “As times change, that’s why it’s important to gather people from that golden era of the law school’s history to rekindle the law school’s spirit, and I think the law school’s done a good job of doing that.”

Graduates during the Maennerchor era went on to become judges, congressmen, and leaders as public servants and in private practice, Bepko said. Notable grads include the late Rep. Andy Jacobs and the late Virginia Dill McCarty, the first woman appointed to a full term as a U.S. attorney, among numerous other firsts.

Also among notable graduates: Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson (Class of 1968) and retired attorney and banker Robert H. McKinney, for whom the school now is named. McKinney graduated in 1951.

Indianapolis defense attorney Jim Voyles of Voyles Zahn & Paul worked day jobs while he went to law school at Maennerchor in the evenings, on weekends and in the summertime. “If you wanted to go to law school, that was what you did,” he said.

Voyles keeps a photo of the Maennerchor in his office, and he knows many of his classmates do, too.

“It was just a fabulous old building. It was quaint and old, but it had a lot of character,” Voyles said.

What it didn’t have, among other things, was central air conditioning. “I remember one of the upper classrooms got pretty hot,” Gifford said.

Voyles said professors were accessible and helpful, but also could be tough. “It was academic, but there was a lot of practicality to it – this is what you do as a lawyer.”

Years after law school, Voyles said he was working on a case that gave him occasion to involve his former professor, Lawrence Jegen, who has taught at the law school since 1962.

“I had to call him professor,” Voyles said. “He kept telling me not to, but I had to.”
 

betty-barteau-15col.jpg Indiana Court of Appeals Senior Judge Betty Barteau talks to classmates and other alums who studied law at the Maennerchor Building in Indianapolis. (Photo submitted)

Indiana Court of Appeals Senior Judge Betty Barteau was a legal pioneer of sorts, graduating from the school in 1965. Not only was she just one of two women in her class, but she also had been a career woman working for Standard Oil Co. in southwest Indiana while raising four children.

But those weren’t the only nonconventional aspects of her law studies. When she moved with her family to Indianapolis, she had completed only 11 hours of undergraduate study when she applied in 1962 for one of only a couple of openings to attend law school based on test scores and faculty interviews.

When she made the list of finalists to be interviewed, she felt her meeting with faculty went well, but she said she was a little surprised when, “I got a call and they said classes would start Monday.”

“I made some really dear friends,” Barteau said of her days studying at the old school. “This was a small facility and you just knew everybody. You knew the faculty and you even knew the people who worked for the faculty.”

In an era when few women attended law school, Barteau said she never felt discriminated against because of her gender. “I felt like the professors picked on me sometimes, but they picked on everybody.”

Gifford said when she attended, far more women started law school than completed it. She ascribes that to the era.

“I think it was just a time when it was all kind of new to have women lawyers,” she said. “My grandfather was a lawyer and he was very accepting of that, but I had an uncle who was a lawyer, who I think even when I graduated failed to recognize I was in law school,” Gifford said.

“It was a different time,” she surmised, noting that now women are the majority in many law schools.

After its last students graduated in 1969, efforts to save the Maennerchor building came to an end with its demolition in 1974. Barteau expressed the consensus of her classmates: “It’s a damned shame that happened. … It was such a pretty building.”•
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  2. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

  3. Low energy. Next!

  4. Had William Pryor made such provocative statements as a candidate for the Indiana bar he could have been blackballed as I have documented elsewhere on this ezine. That would have solved this huuuge problem for the Left and abortion industry the good old boy (and even girl) Indiana way. Note that Diane Sykes could have made a huuge difference, but she chose to look away like most all jurists who should certainly recognize a blatantly unconstitutional system when filed on their docket. See footnotes 1 & 2 here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html Sykes and Kanne could have applied a well established exception to Rooker Feldman, but instead seemingly decided that was not available to conservative whistleblowers, it would seem. Just a loss and two nice footnotes to numb the pain. A few short years later Sykes ruled the very opposite on the RF question, just as she had ruled the very opposite on RF a few short years before. Indy and the abortion industry wanted me on the ground ... they got it. Thank God Alabama is not so corrupted! MAGA!!!

  5. OK, take notice. Those wondering just how corrupt the Indiana system is can see the picture in this post. Attorney Donald James did not criticize any judges, he merely, it would seem, caused some clients to file against him and then ignored his own defense. James thus disrespected the system via ignoring all and was also ordered to reimburse the commission $525.88 for the costs of prosecuting the first case against him. Yes, nearly $526 for all the costs, the state having proved it all. Ouch, right? Now consider whistleblower and constitutionalist and citizen journalist Paul Ogden who criticized a judge, defended himself in such a professional fashion as to have half the case against him thrown out by the ISC and was then handed a career ending $10,000 bill as "half the costs" of the state crucifying him. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/ogden-quitting-law-citing-high-disciplinary-fine/PARAMS/article/35323 THE TAKEAWAY MESSAGE for any who have ears to hear ... resist Star Chamber and pay with your career ... welcome to the Indiana system of (cough) justice.

ADVERTISEMENT