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Old Northside Historic District

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Title: Old Northside Historic District  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Butler University, Benjamin Harrison Home, Morris-Butler House, Indiana Landmarks, Northside Historic District
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Old Northside Historic District

Old Northside Historic District
Old Northside Architecture
Old Northside Historic District
Location Indianapolis, Indiana

39°47′1.87″N 86°9′14.98″W / 39.7838528°N 86.1541611°W / 39.7838528; -86.1541611Coordinates: 39°47′1.87″N 86°9′14.98″W / 39.7838528°N 86.1541611°W / 39.7838528; -86.1541611

Architectural style Late Victorian
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP March 24, 1978

Old Northside is a residential neighborhood near downtown in Indianapolis, Indiana, and located between 12th and 16th streets, and Pennsylvania and Bellfontaine Streets. Old Northside was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is home to many residences from the Victorian era.


Old Northside was a prominent residential neighborhood in the late 19th century, when many of Indianapolis' wealthier residents built mansions in the area. Old Northside was home to Benjamin Harrison (23rd President of the United States), Ovid Butler (founder of Butler University) and other notable figures, including magnates of the L.S. Ayres department store. Indiana author Meredith Nicholson was also a resident for many years and wrote his most noted work House of a Thousand Candles while in residence.[2]

Old Northside was also the original location of Indianapolis' Butler University, then named North Western Christian University, which was later relocated to the town of Irvington.[2][3]

The neighborhood began a slow decline in the early 1910s as architectural tastes changed and families built homes further north in Indianapolis. Over several decades, homes were demolished and others fell into disrepair. In the late 1960s, residents began restoring remaining buildings of architectural significance, and petitioning the city for historic recognition.[2]

Old Northside received historic designation in the late 1978 after adopting a historic plan for preserving the architecture and history of the neighborhood. Preservation of the neighborhood's history is overseen by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

Notable Residences/Museums

The President Benjamin Harrison Home and the Morris-Butler House, both on the National Register of Historic Places, are located in Old Northside and are open to the public for tours and special events. In 2010-11, the former Central Avenue Methodist Church, later known as the Old Centrum, underwent a multi-million dollar major restoration as a performance venue and statewide headquarters of Indiana Landmarks and is now known as the Indiana Landmarks Center. The former home of Thomas Taggart is now the national headquarters of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.


There are three parks related to Old Northside, all created with funding from the Old Northside Foundation. Great Oak Commons is a park created by the neighborhood from several empty lots and is landscaped as a Victorian walking park with a central fountain, gas lighting, a gazebo and a sensory garden filled with fragrant perennial flowers. Shawn Grove Park is a children's park with play equipment. The Frank and Judy O'Bannon Soccer Park was created by the city of Indianapolis on the east edge of the neighborhood, with the help of Old Northside Foundation. It is now maintained by Indy Parks Management. It was reclaimed from abandoned space near the former Monon train tracks and is used by several children's summer soccer leagues.

Neighborhood Organizations

Neighborhood Association

The Old Northside Neighborhood Association was created in 1979, and has been very active in preserving the historic architecture of the neighborhood and providing cultural and social activities for the neighborhood.[4]

Neighborhood Foundation

The Old Northside Neighborhood Foundation was created in 1990 to raise funds for neighborhood projects, including funding for the neighborhood parks and conversion of street lights to historically appropriate designs.[4]


External links

  • Travel Itinerary
  • Old Northside Neighborhood Association's Web Site
  • Old Northside Neighborhood at
  • Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission
  • Ovid Butler Biography
  • Old Northside Flickr Photo Pool
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