Indianapolis operators hate EM Pinball machines

Or so it would seem. When pinball and arcade machines were at their peak, operators view these games as money making machines, and nothing more. Once a game had made back it’s money and then some, the views were two fold – either the games were worthless, or the resale value of said games were just as much as the purchase price. Indianapolis operators were no different, and here is the urban legend of two houses full of EM pinball machines in the Indianapolis area that were bulldozed to the ground, with the pinballs still inside.

The coin-op warehouse find with no interested buyers

I will start off by saying that this story is highly speculative. The details that I have are third hand, and no information here can be taken as fact, but can only be viewed as a ‘story’.

As the story goes, there were two derelict houses located somewhere around the area of Raymond and Shelby street in Indianapolis IN. In these houses there were late 60’s – 70’s pinball machines, possibly 50-100 units packed into these residences. I took a drive one day and took some photos of the areas where I think these houses would have sat.

It is possible that the houses could have been on the north easy corner of Shelby street and Raymond where the White Castle is now, or just up the road on the same side where the Speedway gas station is now.

Speedway Shelby / RaymondWhite Castle Shelby / Raymond

The area fits, there are a couple of other decrepit houses could probably be torn down in between the local diner and the White Castle.

White Castle Shelby / Raymond

As a local tech was looking to purchase used machines to start his own home / retail pinball business in the Indianapolis area, he started to contact the larger distributors / operators. Apparently, he was just a little too late, as not too long before this particular distributor had two houses full of pinball machines that they could not find any takers for. The houses were wholly owned, but a deal for the land presented itself and the property was worth much more than the contents. We’ve all cringed and heard this story before as collectors.

So, the houses were flattened with the pinballs inside, everything completely destroyed and hauled away. Best estimates were that this happened somewhere in the mid 90’s. Why these machines weren’t taken to the Indianapolis arcade / pinball auctions, I don’t know.

More information on this pinball destruction story?

If there is some offhand chance that you know more about this story, have heard it before with different details, or just have speculation you’d like to add, leave a comment. If you were really resourceful, maybe more information could be dug up with more time invested, looking into records of development for the area and / or even popping into local businesses and just asking questions.

The state of Indiana doesn’t seem to be as exciting for arcade related stories as some other areas of the country, especially areas all too close to us like up in Chicago. But this was a good one, although highly speculative that I thought I would share with those coin-op collectors that might be interested and like a little folk lore. Plus, we can all groan and commisserate that these machines were wiped off the face of the earth.

But….not all of the EM pinballs from this distributor were destroyed, and that is a story I hope to tell in the near future. It involves popular local bar with a retro theme….

Here are some similar arcade posts

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I remember the house and I believe it was a couple blocks further south, just my recollection.

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Was this same story relayed to you? When did you hear about these houses full of pinballs?

I actually think I have the street wrong…may write a new post about it…

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Working in the construction industry, I can tell you without even knowing the circumstances, that it’s just not true.

Demolishing a house isn’t a case of fencing it off, then taking to it with wrecking balls or bulldozers. The interiors are gutted, all windows removed, services shut off and pipework removed, and then the actual demolishing begins.

And that pipework? If it’s copper, that goes to the scrapyard. Ornamental fireplace? Reclaimed. Everything of value (even old window glass, wall tiles etc) are saved. So to think that whoever knocked down the two houses didn’t realise what 50-100 machines are worth, didn’t bother stripping anything out of the houses and simply dozed them into the ground, is preposterous.

One possible explanation, with the assumption that the houses did indeed have the tables inside them, was that the developer didn’t care about them, and paid somebody to remove and dump them.

But the people that do this work also know what’s valuable and what’s landfill. I just refuse to believe this happened.

There should be neighbours or residents that were around when they were demolished – huge amounts of pinball machines being hauled onto trucks is fairly memorable. 🙂

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