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The Madam Walker Legacy Center owns and operates out of the historical Walker Building, built in 1927 for Madam C.J. Walker’s haircare products. Last year, the Legacy Center embarked on an important neighborhood enhancement initiative of the Madam Walker Theater and the famed Indiana Avenue. Indiana Avenue has a long tradition as a place where African American owned businesses and music venues contributed to a thriving culture in the heart of the Midwest.

Research was conducted on the history of the neighborhood to determine what businesses were in operation, when they operated and where they were located. Studies indicated that several former dry cleaning operations were located at various times along the Avenue. Old dry cleaners get attention because they used cleaning solvents that would be discharged into sewers and end up causing soil and groundwater contamination that can often times cost in excess of a million dollars to clean up.   

As environmental investigations progressed, dry cleaning solvents were indeed discovered near some of these old dry cleaners and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management got involved to oversee the environmental work.

PolicyFind conducted insurance archeology research which included dozens of archives and pouring through hundreds of boxes of documents and thousands of documents pertaining to the company’s historical business operations. Of special note to archeologists were 16 boxes in the Indiana Historical Society’s collection associated with Mr. Freeman Ransom, who served as the company’s lawyer from 1910 until his death in 1947. According to Indiana Historical Society’s Biographical Sketch description, “Mr. F.B. Ransom met Madam C.J. Walker and became lawyer and business manager of the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Aside from managing the day-to-day operations of the company, he also handled Madam Walker’s personal legal matters.”

After reviewing a mass of ledgers, accounting records and legal documents within the Madam Walker Manufacturing historical files, PolicyFind archeologists located dozens of documents they believed could provide leads to historical insurance assets. The earliest record researchers located dated back to 1914.

PolicyFind next focused its attention of tackling old records stored inside of the Walker Building. Legacy Center officers directed PolicyFind investigators to several rooms filled with bankers’ boxes and old filing cabinets. 

What started as a routine insurance archeology effort ended up being one of the most comprehensive investigations in PolicyFind’s history. The level of documentation associated with Madame Walker as a person and the company history was unparalleled. Once insurance-related information spanning 1914 to the mid-1980s was gleaned, PolicyFind adjusted its sights to the esteemed Walker building itself. Through exhaustive research, PolicyFind found in excess of $100,000,000 in insurance coverage. 

This extensive effort, initiated by the Madam Walker Legacy Center, yielded one of the largest troves of insurance recovered in PolicyFind’s history and we were honored to bring these old insurance policies to light where they were used to engage insurance companies to pay for all of the cleanup costs from the long-gone businesses along the famed Indiana Avenue.

To find your business’ historical insurance policies, contact us. 

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