Thursday, February 14, 2013

Irvington – Jewel of Indy’s Eastside

Irvington is a historic neighborhood on Indianapolis’ eastside. The beautiful homes of Irvington, mostly built from the 1880s to the 1930s, housed residents who worked a wide variety of professions. Grocery store owners, journalists, writers, artists, railroad officials, engineers from Indianapolis’ once thriving auto factories, academics, politicians and military officials.

It was also the home of Butler University from 1875 to 1928.

The winding, tree-lined streets make Irvington one of the most scenic neighborhoods in Indianapolis.

The Bona Thompson Memorial Center served as Butler's library from 1901 through 1928 and is now home to Irvington's historic archives. It’s the only surviving building from the old Butler University campus. The center houses a permanent collection of the Irvington Group of Artists, including such names as William Forsyth, Clifton Wheeler, Dorothy Morlan and Helen Hibben, of whom some were contemporaries of such Hoosier Group greats as T.C. Steele. It also features rotating exhibits of contemporary work by central Indiana artists, historical displays, dramatic readings, book talks and guided tours of Irvington. Below are items featured in the center.

The foyer to the Bona Thompson Memorial Center.

A model of Butler’s campus circa 1914. It’s a shame these beautiful structures didn’t survive. It’s been said that IPS was offered the campus to form Irvington High School. It would have been much like Arsenal Technical High School in having a large campus with multiple structures. IPS turned down the offer and the buildings were razed in the 1920s and a neighborhood built on the site.

One of the rooms displaying art in the center.

A vintage railroad flagman’s hat. The Pennsylvania Railroad used to run through the middle of Irvington. The community had even had a train station. Hawthorne Yards is just to the south of Irvington and at one time employed many of the area’s residents.

A caboose lantern found along the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.

Howe High School memorabilia.


  1. Lovely article! I am so happy to live there.

  2. Thanks Stan. I don't live there, but my wife and I often walk the neighborhood. The people are so nice too. On the Luminary Ride this winter we were greeted with cookies and hot chocolate.

  3. I grew up just north of Irvington near Ellenberger Park, but attended school in Irvington. It is, and has always been, a community that loves community. So happy to see the restaurants, shops and additional growth. My daughter is getting married at Our Lady of Lourdes in the fall - wish there was a good reception venue in the heart of Irvington.

    1. There is. Check out If they aren't listed they will be soon.