Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Charles E. Bauerle (1912-1952)

Charles E. Bauerle was born on March 17, 1912, in North Vernon, Indiana, into a growing family that eventually numbered at least nine children. The Bauerle family made its home on the south side of Indianapolis. I don't know much about Charles Bauerle, but in 1938-1939, at age twenty-six, he completed a series of murals on nautical subjects at the new Indianapolis Naval Armory (now Heslar Naval Armory). The armory was constructed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and it was for that agency that Bauerle worked, at least for a time. His murals, which are still in existence (see comment below), show the Bonhomme Richard in action during the Revolutionary War, the victory of the Lawrence and the Niagara over the British fleet in the War of 1812 (commemorated in a U.S. postage stamp in 2013), the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, and the arrival of American destroyers at Queenstown, Ireland, in May 1917, near the outset of the American entry into World War I. Each of the murals is twelve by fifteen feet.

In about 1950, Charles Bauerle (whose name has been misspelled as "Bauerley") moved to rural Brown County. He worked as an artist for naval ordinance, presumably at what is now Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in Martin and adjoining counties, located well west of Brown County. On the evening of October 17, 1952, while fetching the mail, Bauerle was struck by a truck on State Highway 135 (see comment below). He died from his injuries and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Greenwood, Indiana.

On the left, a photograph of a mural by Charles E. Bauerle, taken at the Indianapolis Naval Armory in 1938-1939. The mural shows the arrival of American destroyers at Queenstown, Ireland, in May 1917. On the right, a photograph of the artist, who would have been five years old when that event took place and who was not even thirty when he completed the mural. From the Indianapolis Times, Jan. 7, 1939.

A recent photograph of the same mural, still on display at Heslar Naval Armory, Indianapolis, from the website of Indiana Landmarks, which has an article about the armory, its history, and its planned use at this link.

Updated May 6, 2019. Thanks to the commenters below for further information.
Text and captions copyright 2013, 2019 Terence E. Hanley


  1. We toured the Armory this afternoon (11/5/16) and yes, the murals are still there and they will be restored and kept as part of the new Riverside School. It will be the sister school to the Herron Charter School at 16th and Pennsylvania with the first ninth grade class beginning in fall 2017. They are amazing.

    1. Thank you, Unknown, for confirming the existence of the murals. I'm glad they're still around. TH

  2. Uncle Charlie was the older brother of my father Louis James Bauerle. My dad was an excellent illustrator also but not as good an artist and Uncle Charlie. Uncle Charlie died in Brown County while getting his mail one night-- hit by a truck on IN 135. He lived in Brown County with his wife Helen and they had no children-- but I was one of his favorites and mom and dad visited him often. My siblings have several small paintings done by him.

    1. Hi, Unknown,

      Thank you for the information. You have led me to do a little more research and to update my original article. It was a long time ago, but sorry for the loss of your uncle. Sorry, too, for the loss of your father. Was your father a published illustrator?

      Terence Hanley