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  • 15 Apr 2023
    Meridian Kessler

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History of the 2023 
Decorators' Show House and Gardens  

The residence at 57 East 57th Street is located within the boundaries of several of Indianapolis’ most respected neighborhood organizations. They include the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association, Meridian Street Preservation Commission, Meridian Street Foundation, and Midtown Indy.

The land on which the home was built was originally planned as three separate lots in the Sillery Subdivision of Meridian Street Woods. It was intended that each lot would have a house built on it. However, the original owners bought all three lots, creating a property with a frontage of 161 feet and a depth of 142 feet. The residence was built on the middle of the three lots, thereby providing nice-sized yards on both the east and west sides of the residence.

The architect who designed the home was Willard C. Osler (1885-1978). Osler designed many fine residences in the Golden Hill, Mapleton Fall Creek, and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods. Among the larger projects that Osler designed were Trinity Episcopal Church, Second Presbyterian Church, and First Congregational United Church of Christ.   

Construction of the brick Tudor residence began in 1927 and was completed in 1928. The project was overseen by civil engineer and contractor Charles Latham Sr. (1881-1940). Latham specialized in residential projects, building upscale homes for prominent local families, primarily in the Golden Hill and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods.

The subject structure contains approximately 6,670 square feet on three levels, plus an unfinished attic space of 242 square feet. The home originally had 7 bedrooms, 4 full baths, and 3 half baths; however, in recent years, the enlargement of the master bedroom suite and the creation of an upstairs laundry room resulted in the loss of one of the original bedrooms. The home also has an attached 3-car garage.  

The home was built by Robert Burnett Failey (1884-1970) and Mary Rebecca Parrott Failey (1886-1970). Both were born in Indianapolis and to families whose ancestors were early settlers of Indianapolis. Mr. Failey was a graduate of Shortridge High School and Princeton University. He was President of the Indiana Mirror Company and a Director of Merchants National Bank and Trust Company. Mrs. Failey was a graduate of Shortridge High School as well. She was also an alumna of Bennett College. Mary was one of the founders of the Orchard School and was active in numerous local organizations, including the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Woman’s Club, Dramatic Club, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Indianapolis Garden Club. The Faileys had three sons: Robert Burnett Failey Jr., James Franklin Failey, and William Henry Comingore Failey.

Following the deaths of both Robert Sr. and Mary in 1970, the residence was acquired by their oldest son, Robert Burnett Failey Jr. (1915-2007). Bob attended Orchard School, Shortridge High School, and Andover Boarding School. After his graduation from Princeton University, he obtained his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He practiced internal medicine at the Indiana University Medical Center. Bob was president of the University Club of Indianapolis and served on the board of corporators of Crown Hill Cemetery. He was a board member of the Ensemble Music Society and the Dramatic Club. Dr. Failey was preceded in death by both of his brothers, James Franklin Failey (1917-2004) and William Henry Commingore Failey (1923-1996).

In 1984, the property was purchased from Dr. Failey by his nephew, John Noël Failey, and John’s wife Julia Bonwell (Luros) Failey. John is a graduate of the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Wabash College, where he became a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He received a master’s degree from the Indiana University School of Business. John is a veteran of the Army Special Forces. He was president of Engineered Cooling Systems from 1984 to 2006. Julia (nicknamed “Jill”) is a North Central High School graduate. She first attended Hillsdale College and graduated from Indiana University. Jill was a recreational and aquatic therapist in the health care community. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority, Junior League of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Garden Club, National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, and St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild. John and Jill’s (now-grown) daughters are Julia Failey and Elisabeth (Failey) Wagner.

After 82 years of ownership by members of the Failey family, the home was sold to Jay Metzler and Andrea (Toth) Metzler in 2010. Jay is the owner of Houseworks Building Company. Andrea is an Orthopedic Physician’s Assistant. She has a B.S. from DePaul University and an M.S. from Butler University. During the eight years of the Metzlers’ ownership, they made significant renovations throughout the home. In 2018, the couple sold the property to its fifth and current owners. The Metzlers now reside in Boise, Idaho.

The current owners of the residence are Eugene C. Hsiao, M.D., and Tomi (Hill) Hsiao. Dr. Hsiao grew up in Indianapolis and was graduated from North Central High School. He has a wide range of training in plastic surgery and reconstruction. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He received his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. He also received post-graduate training at both the University of Louisville and Washington University in St. Louis. Tomi Hsiao is also a graduate of the University of Louisville. It was there that the couple met. Tomi enjoys being involved in her children’s school activities. Dr. and Mrs. Hsiao are the parents of Hannah, Zach, and Oliver. The family enjoys playing hockey, volleyball, and golf.

St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild is excited to present this unique residence as its 62nd Decorators’ Show House and Gardens. Proceeds from the annual event will be donated to the Behavior Health Academy at Eskenazi Hospital. The guild has pledged a gift of $1,000,000 to the facility. 

The History of the 2023 Decorators' Show House and Gardens was researched 
   by St. Margaret's Hospital Guild member, Sharon Butsch Freeland.
 

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