Exploring the Historic Neighborhood of Irvington, Indiana

We recently moved to the historic neighborhood of Irvington, Indiana, located just east of downtown Indianapolis.  Having lived in Indiana for over a year now, I have driven through this neighborhood a handful of times, but never walked it or really "explored" the surroundings.  I did a little research and started to realize the architectural and cultural importance the neighborhood had on Indianapolis.

Home in Irvington, Indiana | Victorian Gothic Architecture | Indiana Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Home | Irvington, Indiana

Irvington was among the first planned suburbs of Indianapolis and is important for its Victorian Romantic winding street pattern, the varied architectural styles and types, and for its cultural and educational role in the city. Sylvester Johnson and Jacob Julian, prominent abolitionist lawyers from Centerville, Indiana, bought the site in 1870 and hired surveyor and friend Robert Howard to lay out the winding street pattern. Johnson recommended using the design of Glendale, Ohio, as a model. Irvington included a public park, proposed educational site, and deed restrictions against “vicious” land uses. A town board formed and incorporated the area in 1873.

In the early 1900s, Irvington became a favorite haunt of the city’s best fine artists and writers including Kin Hubbard, creator of the nationally syndicated cartoon Abe Martin. An art colony gave the community a namesake art movement, the Irvington Group.  Architecture in the district displays a variety of late 19th and early 20th century styles. These include the French Empire Benton House at 312 S. Downey, the brick Italianate George W. Julian House at 115 S. Audubon, the outstanding Victorian Gothic Eudorus Johnson House at 5631 University, and the fine Arts & Crafts home of State Librarian Demarcus Brown at 251 Audubon. (source)

The Benton House | Irvington, Indiana | Irvington Historic Landmarks | French Second Empire Architecture | National Register of Historic Places | Indiana Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Sunset At The Benton House | Irvington, Indiana

Built in 1873 on a beautifully wooded lot at 312 S. Downey Avenue, The Benton House is a charming example of the Second Empire style of architecture. For twenty years, it was the home of Allen R. Benton, twice president of Butler University in Irvington. (source)

Masonic Lodge No. 666 | Irvington, Indiana | Indiana Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Masonic Lodge No. 666 | Irvington, Indiana

The flat-ironed shaped temple remains as testament to Washington Street’s longtime commercial significance. Designed by architect Henry Bacon in 1921, it once housed the local post office as well as lodge spaces on the second floor. (source)

Eudorus Johnson House | Irvington, Indiana | Victorian Gothic Architecture | Indiana Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Eudorus Johnson House | Irvington, Indiana

An unknown architect designed this house in 1876 for Eudorus Johnson, son of Irvington co-founder Sylvester Johnson. Eudorus served many years as the Marion County Auditor. It illustrates a less common style of the late 19th century, High Victorian Gothic. Though its builder continued the trend of building in brick, he created a marked contrast with other Irvington homes of the period. Two towers, one polygonal, one circular, and steep gables with ornamental stickwork bracing are noteworthy features of the house. The bungalow type porch replaced a shallow first floor balcony with cut-out quatrefoil rail in about 1920. (source)

Irvington United Methodist Church | Irvington, Indiana | Indiana Architecture | Tudor Revival Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Irvington United Methodist Church | Irvington, Indiana

Irvington United Methodist Church, in the middle of North Audubon Road just north of Washington, is an excellent example of Tudor Revival designed by local architect Herbert Foltz in 1925.  Today the Irvington United Methodist Church is known locally as the “church on the circle” and the 1906 house portion greets visitors as they turn off of E. Washington Street onto Audubon. Its original occupant, Jacob Dorsey Forrest, lies near his wife’s large memorial at Crown Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave. (source)

The Kile Oak Tree | Irvington, Indiana | Oldest Tree in Indiana | Burr Oak Tree | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

The Kile Oak Tree | Irvington, Indiana

There is a fascinating tie between the Kile Oak, thought to be the oldest Burr Oak in the country, and the romance of its preservation for the people of Irvington. According to the forestry experts, sometime in the middle 1600s, a lone acorn started the long history of the Kile Oak in the rich soil of what then was Indian country north of the Ohio River.

About the same time, in 1638, an English wheelwright named John Frye sailed from Southampton, England, arriving in Boston and settling in Andover, Massachusetts. Four generations later, Major General Joseph Frye, commanding the Massachusetts Militia, served as aide to General Washington at the siege of Boston in 1775.

Two more generations later, a grandson of the General, himself a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, joined the "Ohio Company" in creating the first settlement in the Northwest Territories (now Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin) at Marietta, Ohio.

Two more generations later on February 13, 1843, Sarah Frye was born on that farm. Later she married Oliver W. Kile, then fresh from four years in the Civil War, later Evangelist for the Christian Church in the State of Ohio. After retiring from the ministry in 1901, the family moved to Indianapolis where three sons were then in the U.S. Mail Service. Mr. and Mrs. Kile, seeking a location for their new home, spotted the big oak, and that ended their march. (source)

Masonic Lodge No. 666 | Irvington, Indiana | Indiana Architecture | Image By Indiana Architectural Photographer Jason Humbracht

Masonic Lodge No. 666 | Irvington, Indiana

 

Learn more about shooting architecture at my post 10 Helpful Tips for Striking Architectural Photography.

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