Businesses in the RNC Neighborhood Today

By Bevin Snyder

“As I Grew up and slept in a bed in the area, we were all rocked to sleep with the pounding of that huge forge stamping machine in the plant. It took so much pressure to stamp those jet engine blades. I loved to walk by the plant and look in the window and see the old plane parked inside. To dream of flying and talk to some of the people who worked there was a real dream come true. -Paul Troxell[1]

The Riverside Normal City neighborhood, and the city of Muncie, were both greatly impacted by the industry and jobs created by the Ontario Corporation. Riverside Normal City and surrounding neighborhood residents have vivid memories of the sound and feel of the presses that spent their final days constructing jet engine fan blades.[2]ontario-corp-1980s-f1

Figure 1: Ontario Corporation in the 1980’s[4]

The pounding of the presses could be felt and heard around the neighborhood throughout Ontario’s years of operation. Tom Guinup, who spent his childhood weekends push mowing the yard of Ontario, recalls hearing the pound… pound… pound… of the presses even above the hum of his lawn mower.[3]

In the early nineteen eighties, there was a silence that overcame the neighborhood after the close of the Ontario factory. The industry, jobs, structure, and memorable Christmas Nativity display that connected Ontario to the city of Muncie became a thing of the past. For many years, after Ontario was demolished, the corner of Jackson St. and White River Blvd. remained vacant and silent; a great void to the once flourishing Riverside Normal City neighborhood.

“It is sad to lose this valuable member of the Muncie community, but at least the facility has been replaced with another community asset instead of a large parking lot like the ones in the downtown area” –Milton A. Masing[5]

In 2004, it was decided that the former Aero Forge plant would be demolished in order to make way for a new kind of technology and development. Out of the factories leveling grew a center for pathologist associated labs, Whitinger & Company, and later in 2008, Innovation Connector.[6]


Figure 2: Ontario Place 2016 [2]

“I’m sure they are very nice and it is fantastic they employ a lot of folks. Ontario Corp was a great factory in its day like many other factory’s in Muncie. But to see what those folks went through when they just up and closed can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.” –Dericka Patterson[1]

Whitinger & Company built a foundation in the Riverside Normal City neighborhood in 2004. Whitinger & Company is an accounting and consulting firm that serves its clientele in a vast array of both individual and business services, expanding to the areas of fraud protection, benefit planning, estate planning, and tax services along with other financial needs and services. Within the past decade, the company and building have extended their services in order to provide a wide array of business needs through the incorporation of Whitinger Strategic Services. [3]

Whitinger Strategic Services specializes in helping growing businesses with the consultation backing and support to keep their business on a sound track for success. Ultimately, they are a backbone service for a company’s growth and developmental organization. They are specialists in promoting the design, marketing and branding of new businesses that helps to further expand the client base of their business customers. [4]


Figure 3: Whitinger & Company 2016[5]

By 2009, the Innovation Connector company added its headquarters to the Ontario Place lot, after outgrowing their previous location on Marsh Street. The company has experienced a gradual growth in business and now encompasses more than 20 partner companies into its services. They partner with companies to assist in business planning, financial services, patent, trademark and copyrights, as well as networking and location scouting.[6] Next to Innovation Connector is the IU Health Financial Assistance Department.

These companies have become a part of the deindustrialization exchange that has been occurring since the 1980’s and still today. Hurley Goodall and Luke Eric Lassiter, authors of The Other Side of Middletown, describe this transition by quoting sociologist Rita Caccamo, who observed in her book, Back to Middletown; “Middletown is a corner of America like any other, which has undergone a massive transformation from the industrial town of the past to a place where most jobs today are in the service sector. For all that, it is a sleepy place which still retains the vestiges of material well-being. Its normality is recompensed; it is proud of itself and of still representing some part of the industrialized north of the United States.”[7]

“The Term “rust belt” evokes not just a region but a social setting. Geographically, it refers to the band of states running from the Northeast into the Midwest that industrialized extensively during the nineteenth century but experienced a dramatic decline in manufacturing at the end of the twentieth century. The environment it summons to mind is more precise: crumbling city streets, empty factories, abandoned homes, blighted neighborhoods, and desolate downtown’s.”

                                                                                                                    – James J. Connolly[8]


Figure 4: Ontario Place and Innovation Connector 2016[9]

The deindustrialization of neighborhoods has affected various communities and entire cities in, what are most commonly, desolate situations of transition. Some cities experience recovery, but many more do not. James Connolly points out that it is much easier for larger cities to make a recovery throughout the deindustrialization process, as they are generally more exposed to a higher standard of resources and politics.[10]


Figure 5: Muncie around 1922[11]

The neighborhood continues to experience further growth and demise as long time Burger joint, Burkie’s, served its last drive up meal this past year in 2016, and a new State Farm Insurance collaboration moved into the RNC neighborhood.


Figure 6: Burkie’s circa 2015[12]

Gary Paul and Scott Metzler have been in collaboration for State Farm Insurance for a year now, after making a business decision to move to the Riverside Normal City neighborhood. Previously, Gary occupied an office building downtown and Scott a building along Tillotson. In October of last year, Scott made a financial decision to move their collaborated business into the building that was formerly Identity Hair Salon, along Jackson St. in Muncie.


Figure 7: Gary Paul and Scott Metzler State Farm[13]

In addition to the above businesses, there are also several gas stations in the RNC Neighborhood, including two Marathon Gas Stations (one on University and another on W. Jackson) and a Phillips 66 on the corner of University and Riverside Ave. across from the White Spot Laundry, which has been in business in the RNC Neighborhood for over 50 years.

Sketch by Simran Bhinder

From the Lost Muncie FaceBook page: “The photo on the left is of Reserve looking north from where North Street intersects during the October 1952 Ball State Teacher’s College Homecoming Parade. In the background is a building that has existed at least from 1952 as it was part grocery (Reserve St Grocery) and part Laundry (White Spot). One was at 317 and one at 319 Reserve. Prior to that, the area had a grocery, but was listed as 318 Reserve – which seems to me would be on the opposite east side of the street, but is listed in directories as far back as the 1920s as 318 Reserve (W.S.) which to me means West Side. Wow, the spot had so many different groceries. I didn’t go back any farther than 1928, but here is the rundown: Milton A. Masing on Lost Muncie FaceBook page on May 20, 2013: “Jeff [Koenker, site manager], I worked at the White Spot Laundry from 1953 through 1959. The owner was my neighbor Charles F. Powers who also worked at the Delco factory on 32 west. The laundry building stood alone. The building next door for many years was a gift shop. The shell station opposite the laundry sponsored me in the Soap Box Derby and was built about the time that I started to work at the laundry. The Shell station was owned by a Mr. Ullman. I also recall two grocery stores nearby where I used to get my snacks. Both groceries were to the west about a block or two…”
In addition to The Village and the above businesses, there is also Amazin’ Joes, a restaurant on Wheeling Ave. that opened in 2008. There are two liquor stores in the neighborhood: Muncie Liquor on Reserve and Wheeling and Friendly Package Liquors on Jackson. Other shops include: Vintage Thrift Art & Antiques, American Jewelry and Loan, and Pippens Kitchen and Bath Center. The neighborhood also features a Yoga studio on White River Blvd and Northern Lights Massage next to Greg Pyle’s University Avenue Dental.

[1] Posted on Lost Muncie Facebook (May 5, 2015)

[2] Lost Muncie Facebook Page, Krista Wagner (August 23,2016)

[3] (2016, ). Whitinger & Company LLC | Home. Whitinger & Company LLC | Services. Retrieved December 2016, from

[4] (2016, ). Whitinger Strategic Services – Business & Branding. About – Whitinger Strategic Services. Retrieved December 2016, from

[5] Photo Credit: Megan Carrell (December, 2016)

[6] (2014, ). Innovation Connector | A Gateway to Entrepreneurship. Innovation Connector | Services. Retrieved December 2016, from

[7] Luke Eric, L., Goodall, H., & Geelhoed, B. (2004). The Other Side of Middletown. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press.

[8]James, C. (2010). After the Factory: Reinventing America’s Industrial Small Cities. Lanham: Lexington Books.

[9] Photo Credit: Megan Carrell

[10] James, C. (2010). After the Factory: Reinventing America’s Industrial Small Cities. Lanham: Lexington Books.

[11] Muncie 1922 – Story of the Magic City. Courtesy of Brad Wilkins- Lost Muncie posted by Larry Broadwater

[12] Google Image (accessed 2016)

[13] Google Image February 2016 (accessed 2016)