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Irvington Historic District (Indianapolis, Indiana)

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Irvington Historic District (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Irvington Historic District
Bona Thompson Memorial Library, the last remaining building of the old Butler University campus
Irvington Historic District (Indianapolis, Indiana) is located in Indiana
Irvington Historic District (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Location Roughly bounded by Ellenberger Pk., Pleasant Run Creek, Arligton Ave., B & 0 RR tracks, and Emerson Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana
Area 545 acres (221 ha)
Built 1870
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Bungalow/Craftsman, American Four Square
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 87001031[1]
Added to NRHP May 29, 1987

The neighborhood of Irvington overlaps Irvington Historic District, a historic district in Indianapolis, Indiana. Both are in Indianapolis, Indiana. The historic district is a 545-acre (221 ha) area that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. That year, the district included 2,373 contributing buildings, 5 other contributing structures, and 2 contributing sites.


  • Historic Irvington 1
  • Butler University 2
  • Events 3
    • Historic Irvington Halloween Festival 3.1
  • The arts 4
    • The Irving Theatre 4.1
  • Churches 5
  • Schools and libraries 6
  • Historic structures 7
    • Benton house 7.1
    • Stephenson Mansion 7.2
  • Parks 8
  • Businesses 9
  • Gallery 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Historic Irvington

Founded in 1870 by Sylvester Johnson and Jacob Julian, Irvington was originally created as a suburban town of Indianapolis. It formed along winding roads of dirt and brick that reflected landscape design in the Romantic era. The town was built as a quiet suburb where artists, politicians, military generals, academics, and heads of local industry resided.[2] In 1902 Irvington was annexed by Indianapolis.

Irvington is located five miles (8 km) east of downtown Indianapolis on the western edge of Warren Township. The neighborhood is situated on Washington Street, which is the route of the historic National Road, a National Scenic Byway. US 40 was formerly routed along the road. Through the early 1900s, a commuter rail/trolley system ran from Irvington to downtown Indianapolis along US 40.

Irvington is the largest locally protected historic district in Indianapolis - Marion County. The district includes roughly 2,800 buildings and about 1,600 parcels of land. 78.1% of Irvington homes were built before 1960.[3] Irvington began petitioning its residents in 2001 through the efforts of the Historic Irvington Community Council initiated and led by Brian Boyd. The Irvington Historic District Neighborhood Plan was adopted by IHPC on October 4, 2006. Boyd was recognized by the Irvington Historical Society for his efforts with the 2003 Cottman Award for preserving Irvington History.

Butler University

From 1875-1928, Irvington was the home of Butler University. Butler transformed Irvington into a college community. The campus grew in the southwest corner of Irvington, between the Pennsylvania Railroad and the B&O Railroad tracks. Buildings at the campus eventually included the Main Building (1875), Science Building (1892), Women’s Dorm (1880s), Bona Thompson Memorial Library (1903, today known as Bona Thompson Memorial Center), and a WWI era gymnasium. The Christian Women’s Board of Missions built a Missionary Training School in 1909 adjacent to the campus. By the 1910s, the university had over one thousand students.[4] All the Butler buildings have since been demolished except for the Bona Thompson Memorial Library and the President's Home (which is now Irvington United Methodist Church, locally called the "Church on the Circle"). Built in 1903, the Bona Thompson Memorial Center is the current home of the Irvington Historical Society. It houses the Irvington Historical Society's art collection and historical documents. The Society's art collection can be viewed in the rehabed gallery space. Also on display are various art shows, including a yearly juried show. Events from meetings to weddings and receptions are held at the Center.


Irvington is a family-friendly neighborhood. Throughout the year, several festivals are held in the community that allow friends and neighbors to come together.

For over 10 years, the Irvington Historical Society has hosted an ice cream social at the Bona Thompson Memorial Library. Ice cream, displayed art, and music attract neighbors to the event so they can learn more about the history of Irvington and tour the library.

The Irvington Garden Club presents annual events to show local gardens, homes, and art. The Irvington Home Tour also allows the public to tour several historic homes; 2013 marked the 40th annual Tour of Homes.

The Irvington Farmers Market, one of the most popular farmers markets in Indianapolis, is held every year beginning in June and lasting through October.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish, located in the heart of Irvington, holds an annual carnival on their property to raise money for the church. The carnival features rides, games, and neighborhood information.

Historic Irvington Halloween Festival

The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival is a non-profit event founded in 1947 by the Historic Irvington Community Council in an effort to bring together residents, neighborhood organizations, and businesses in Irvington for a celebration of heritage and community. The festival is currently the nation's oldest and largest Halloween festival.

The festival encompasses the week leading up to October 31, culminating in a street festival on the final Saturday. East Washington Street is closed through downtown Irvington to hold the street festival. Events include a 5 mile run, a pageant, musicians, contests, Halloween-themed movies, storytelling, ghost tours, live theater, roller derby, a haunted puppet show and dozens of other events.

The arts

Irvington was the birthplace and home to the only historic art movement in Central Indiana named for a specific place, the Irvington Group. In the early 1900s, this group of artists lived, met, practiced and exhibited art in Irvington. Today, many of the artists' homes and studios remain standing throughout the community.[5]

The Irvington Lodge, Bona Thompson Memorial Library, and The Studio School & Gallery are public venues where arts are currently taught and displayed throughout the Irvington neighborhood.

The Irving Theatre

Built in 1913, the Irving Theatre was originally used for a nickelodeon. In 1926, the theatre went under major renovations; adding six rental units, a second story, and lengthening the theatre. Throughout the decades, the theatre's uses differed until it closed in the mid-1990s. It sat unoccupied until 2005, when it was reopened, and has been looking for funds to be renovated since then. The theatre is a hub for live music, films, and art, community, and private events. Three apartment units are on the second floor.

The Irving is one of the city's largest all-ages music venues. With a capacity of over 700 people, the theatre hopes to attract bands that would otherwise pass on an Indianapolis visit. [1]

The Irving Theater now hosts WOOT-FM Community Radio Project in the far western storefront. WOOT-FM is a not for profit community radio station featuring local musicians and acts. WOOT-FM's plan is to receive their LPFM license in the year 2014 serving the Indianapolis Metropolitan area.


Church congregations came with the new families. One of the oldest is an African-American congregation, Irvington Baptist Church. Formed in 1887, it is one of the oldest African-American congregations in Marion County. Additional churches like Downey Avenue Christian Church first met in the Butler University Main Building, and later built a church in the 1890s. Presbyterians gathered to form a church in the early 1900s, as the Methodists had done in the decades before. Catholics petitioned for a parish in 1909, which became the aforementioned Our Lady of Lourdes. All of these denominations maintain beautiful historic houses of worship today. [2]

Schools and libraries

Irvington Branch Library

Irvington is home to local schools and a branch of the Indianapolis Public Schools. There are also two Charter schools. Irvington Community School[6] is for grades K-8,and the other is the Irvington Preparatory Academy, serving grades 9-12. Together, these schools offer public education for grades K-12. Irvington is also home to the Roman Catholic school Our Lady of Lourdes, available for grades K-8.

Irvington has a long history of libraries. In 1903 the Bona Thompson Library was open to Butler students and the public. Since then, a local Irvington library has always been open to residents in different locations ranging from homes to particular structures. In 1956, the Hilton U. Brown Library, named in honor of the Irvington resident, opened on East Washington Street. In 2001, a new, state-of-the-art Irvington Branch Library[7] opened at 5625 East Washington Street. The former Brown Library building is now used for early education by Indianapolis Public Schools.

Irvington was also home to the Children's Guardian Home on University Avenue,[8] before being converted to a new high school for the Irvington Preparatory Academy.

Historic structures

The Benton house

Irvington is both architecturally and culturally significant to Indianapolis – Marion County. The area contains excellent examples of every major American architectural style from 1870–1950, including [5]

Washington Street is home to several historic business buildings including the old bank (now Jack and Jill's Antique Shop) and the Irving Theatre.

Benton house

The Benton house was built in 1873 by Nicholas Ohmer,[9] and was the home of Allen R. Benton, a former president of Butler University, Irvington. The Irvington Historic Landmarks Foundation was formed in 1966 to oversee the purchase and restoration of the house. In 1973 the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only house on the National Register on the Indianapolis East Side listed in the Historic Register that is available to the public.[10]

Stephenson Mansion

Stephenson Mansion

The Stephenson Mansion was listed on The National Register of Historic Places as the William H. H. Graham House in 1982. The home was built in 1889 for William H. H. Graham, who was associated with the Benjamin Harrison administration. It also served as a sorority home for Kappa Kappa Gamma students at Butler University in 1923. D. C. Stephenson acquired the home in 1923 and remodeled it to resemble a Civil War-era plantation home.[11] The home is one of several in the neighborhood that are interesting to people who believe in haunted houses.[12]


Ellenberger Park (est. 1903, one time known as Jameson Park) is located in northern Irvington. Landscape architect and urban planner Pleasant Run Trail greenway. The trail currently runs 6.9 miles (11.1 km) and connects Ellenberger Park with Garfield Park, the oldest park in the city (est. 1873, renamed in 1881), on the old Southside of Indianapolis; significant northern and southern expansions are planned for the trail.

At the center of Irvington is a small circular park surrounded by a round-about street intersection. The park includes a fountain, a bust of Washington Irving, and personalized brick paths. Band concerts are often held on the circle throughout the summer season.


The Legend Cafe, East Washington
There are many businesses in Irvington, including eateries (The Legend Cafe, Rock Cola 50's Cafe, Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza), Your Local Deli and Market ( featuring all local, fresh and fun fare, drug stores (CVS), auto shops, doctor's offices, coffee houses (Dufour's, Lazy Daze, Starbucks), hair salons (Snips, GENEVA Hair Studio), ( tHAIRapy Salon), a piercing studio (Aesthetics), banks, antique shops, gift shops ( Homespun: Modern Homeade, Black Sheep Gifts), "What's in the Attic?" Estate Liquidation and Appraisal Service, community radio station ( WOOT-FM Community Radio Project), gabion and water features builder (ALSinc) and several other small businesses. The Irvington Plaza, located in east Irvington, has several businesses such as: a Marsh Supermarket, furniture stores, barbershop, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, La Hacienda and Flea Market.


See also


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  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
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  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links

  • Historic Irvington Halloween Festival
  • Historic Irvington Community Council
  • Travel ItineraryDiscover Our Shared HeritageIrvington Historic District from Indianapolis, a National Park Service
  • Irvington - Narrative
  • Historic Preservation - Irvington
  • Historic Irvington
  • Ellenberger Park
  • Irvington Development Organization (IDO)
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