Butler-Tarkington is a neighborhood on the near northwest side of Indianapolis bounded by the Central Canal and Michigan Road, the west side of Meridian Street, 38th Street, and Westfield Boulevard.

Butler-Tarkington is a neighborhood on the near northwest side of Indianapolis bounded by the Central Canal and Michigan Road, the west side of Meridian Street, 38th Street, and Westfield Boulevard.  The neighborhood derives its name from Butler University and Pulitzer prize-winning Hoosier author Booth Tarkington, who lived at 4270 North Meridian Street from 1923 to 1946.  Covering an area of roughly 930 acres, the neighborhood–which resulted from a consolidation of numerous nineteenth century farms and orchards–has remained a largely residential community. [1]

A small group of mostly German farming families settled the area around what is now known as Illinois and 38th Streets as early as the 1840s.  There, amid a large grove of sugar maples, the tiny farming village that became known as Mapleton provided a popular rest stop for travelers on their way from Indianapolis (roughly three miles to the south) to Broad Ripple and further parts northward.  In the 1860s the area connecting to Indianapolis was strengthened when the city’s street railway was extended to the newly purchased site of Crown Hill Cemetery. [2]

By the 1880s Mapleton supported a general store, post office, livery stables, school, and the Sugar Grove Methodist Mission.  Mapleton’s close-knit population numbered 300, most of whom lived in the corridor between Meridian Street and Crown Hill Cemetery.  Life in Mapleton, as long-time residents recalled decades later, revolved around church socials, annual sausage-and-sauerkraut community dinners, walks through fields on the way to school, visits from gypsies along the creek, men socializing at a local store, and winter sleigh rides. [3]

The establishment of electric street railways during the latter part of the nineteenth century brought changes to the farms and orchards north of Mapleton.  In 1889 the Citizens Street Railway Company purchased the 246-acre Adam Scott farm along the Central Canal for the purpose of developing a “suburban park.”  The next year saw the opening of Fairview Park following an extension of streetcar lines north of Maple Road (now 38th Street). [4]
 By the turn of the century, new “suburban” houses began replacing farms.  Much of the neighborhood’s early housing developed as “small, narrow homes, built close to the street” all along the streetcar “line” to the park—forming what is known as a “streetcar suburb.” [5]

As Meridian Street emerged as the address of choice for many of the city’s elite in the late nineteenth century, ten housing additions were planned along Meridian Street between 38th and 50th streets from 1899 to 1909.  While upper Meridian Street was annexed by the city in 1906, there was little development of the area until the 1920s.  By 1930 the North Meridian Street Corridor—located between 40th Street and Westfield Boulevard—had become the city’s most exclusive residential neighborhood.  During the 1910s and 1920s a middle-class development arose in the south central portion of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, north of 38th Street and along Illinois Street, Capitol Avenue, and Boulevard Place. [7]
 Butler University’s purchase of Fairview Park in 1922, followed by its relocation to the 300-acre Fairview Campus in 1928, stimulated another surge of middle-class home building throughout the neighborhood.  By 1940 Butler-Tarkington, whose population was 12,244 and 96 percent white, was “essentially developed” and the fundamental character of the neighborhood as a middle-class residential area was well-established. [8]

Primarily composed of white middle-class residents, the neighborhood remained very stable from the 1920s to the 1950s.  By the mid-1950s, however, court decisions arising out of the civil rights movement were beginning to open previously all-white neighborhoods to people of color.  As population pressures south of 38th Street stimulated a northward migration of the city’s resident African-American population, Butler-Tarkington began to experience a series of “ugly racial incidents” and a rapid turnover in its population.  Long-term residents began to move north and west out of the neighborhood.  As a result, the proportion of whites in the population declined by nearly thirty percent.  At the same time, the proportion of African-Americans increased tenfold over a period of two decades; by 1960 African-Americans comprised 30 percent of the neighborhood’s residents. [9]

In 1956 a small group of local residents formed the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association in an attempt to foster “better communication among the residents” of the neighborhood, with the hope of “preventing inter-group conflicts.”  The Association’s ultimate goal was to “keep the quality of the neighborhood” intact while developing a “sense of community among the residents.” [10]
 With its membership cutting across racial, social and economic boundaries, the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association began its work by launching an attack against “panic selling” and “block busting.”  Since the 1960s this initial effort has been followed through by the creation of a series of block clubs, a newsletter, community workshops, land-use planning, and various recreational activities.  Today, Butler-Tarkington has earned a reputation as one of the city’s more stable neighborhoods, and it is an often-cited example of successful racial integration. [11]

While Butler-Tarkington is—and always has been—known primarily as a residential area, a number of other important facets of the neighborhood have contributed to the unique character of the community.  These factors include the neighborhood’s schools, the churches that dot Butler-Tarkington’s landscape, and the presence of a number of cultural institutions.  In addition, much of Butler-Tarkington’s non-residential acreage is covered by the campuses of Butler University, Christian Theological Seminary, and Crown Hill Cemetery’s “North Burial Ground.”  Finally, Butler-Tarkington contains two small commercial areas–one located at 38th and Illinois Streets; the other at 56th and Illinois Streets.

Most of Butler-Tarkington’s churches moved into the neighborhood between 1930 and 1960, mirroring the general trend in the city of congregational movement away from the center of the city.  The earliest religious institution in the neighborhood, however, was the Sugar Grove Mission.  Organized in 1843 at a site at 48 West Maple Road (now 38th Street), the Sugar Grove Mission began as a small country church.  The congregation, a Methodist mission, moved into its first permanent structure at the corner of Maple Road and Meridian Street in 1855, where it changed its name to Sugar Grove Methodist Episcopal Church.  As the population of Indianapolis slowly expanded northward, Sugar Grove Methodist underwent its first major building renovation in 1884.  Sixteen years later, in 1900, the church built a larger structure on the same location and changed its name to the Mapleton Methodist Episcopal Church.  In 1916, in conjunction with the city’s plan to widen 38th Street, Mapleton Methodist Church moved back from the road 100 feet and added a basement, Sunday School rooms, a social room, and a kitchen. [12]

As the city expanded to the north, some members of Capitol Avenue Methodist Church (organized in 1894 as Hyde Park Methodist and located at the corner of 30th and Illinois Streets) advocated relocating the congregation to the developing area.  Encountering  general opposition from their congregation, two members withdrew their memberships and joined with three individuals from Meridian Street Methodist to urge the Bishop of Indianapolis-area Methodist churches to select a site for a new northern congregation.  In 1921 Bishop Frederick DeLand Leete chose a large lot on the northwest corner of 38th and Meridian Streets.   That spring a board consisting of representatives of the existing local Methodist Church and advocates of the new church met to discuss church organization.  In May of 1922 the board adopted the name North Methodist Episcopal Church for the new congregation.  Later, on September 10, 1922, the Maple Road congregation voted officially to merge with North Methodist.  Within a year, the congregation had appointed a building committee and identified Atlanta architect Charles Hopson to design the new church.  The congregation broke ground on May 3, 1925, but problems with funding delayed construction for several years.  In May 1931, the members of North Methodist began worshipping in their new Gothic-style building at 3803 North Meridian Street. [13]

Other churches moved into the rapidly developing neighborhood in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.  Following the merger in 1924 of the Fourth Presbyterian Church (established 1854 and located at Alabama and 19th Streets since 1895) with Grace Presbyterian Church (established 1895 and located at Capitol Avenue and 32nd Street), the newly formed Fairview Presbyterian Church occupied a temporary chapel at 46th Street and Capitol Avenue.  The church remained in this “temporary” structure–with some additions in 1925–until 1952, when the present building was completed.  In 1939 the Catholic Diocese of Indianapolis placed the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood within the newly formed St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.  The first St. Thomas Aquinas Church, which opened that same year, was a frame structure at 46th and Illinois Streets.  St. Thomas Aquinas Church moved into its present building at 4610 North Illinois Street in 1969. [14]

The next church to move into the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood was the University Park Christian Church, built on the former site of the “Blue Farm” at 46th and Illinois Streets.  The church, formed through the merger with North Park Christian Church in 1946, was originally meant to serve the faculty and staff of Christian Theological Seminary.  In 1953 the church dedicated its present building at 4550 North Illinois Street.  The predominately white congregation of University Place Christian Church agreed in 1984 to begin sharing their facilities with the predominantly black congregation of Faith United Christian Church, an arrangement that continues to this day. [15]

Having concluded in the early 1940s that the majority of its members now lived north of 38th Street, the leaders of Meridian Street Methodist Church, located since 1908-1909 at the northwest corner of Meridian and St. Clair Streets, began looking for a new location on the city’s north side.  After merging with the 51st Street Methodist Church in 1947, the combined congregation moved into the newly-constructed, 550-seat Meridian Street Methodist Church at 5500 North Meridian Street in 1952. [16]

Education has long played a significant role in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood.  Not only does the neighborhood boasts two public elementary schools (IPS Schools 43 and 86) and a parochial school (St. Thomas Aquinas School), it also plays host to Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary.  In addition, a number of private schools—Orchard Country Day, the Sycamore School, and Noble Center II—can trace their origins back to the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. [17]

The first school to be associated with Butler-Tarkington was the forerunner of IPS School 43, which opened in the village of Mapleton in 1883.  The school moved into its present building at 150 West 40th Street in 1909.  The Orchard Country Day School, a prestigious private academy, opened in 1922 on the property of Mary Stewart Carey, founder of the Children’s Museum, at 5050 North Meridian Street.  In 1927 Orchard Country Day School moved to 610 West 42nd Street.  The new IPS School 86 occupied what was intended to be a temporary building at 49th Street and Boulevard Place in 1928, the same year Butler University began its first session on its new Fairview Campus.  In 1939 St. Thomas Aquinas opened its school (which serves kindergarten through eighth grade) at 4600 North Illinois Street.  The next year, IPS School 86 finally moved from its “temporary” location into its present building at 200 West 49th Street. [18]

In 1957 Orchard Country Day School moved out of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, relocating to West 63rd Street; its property was purchased by the Parents and Friends of Retarded Children, Inc., and Noble School II opened at 615 West 43rd Street within the year.  The next educational institution to build in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood was the Christian Theological Seminary which opened its new campus at 1000 West 42nd Street in 1966.  The Noble School moved out of the neighborhood in 1971, but a new school, the Sycamore School for gifted grade-school children, opened on part of this same property in 1985.  The Sycamore School soon outgrew the space it was renting from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis, and by 1989 it, too, had moved out of the neighborhood.  In 1994-1995 the International School of Indiana—a private academy offering students an internationally-based curriculum—opened its doors at 612 W. 42nd Street. [19]

Over the years, both IPS Schools 43 and 86 have been involved with a number of innovative programs.  In the 1970s the schools were both part of the Lighted Schools Program, offering a variety of evening courses for both adults and children throughout the winter months.  During the 1980s IPS School 86 participated in the PrimeTime Plus Summer Program, which offered more individualized instructions for struggling elementary students.  At the same time, IPS School 43 served as a pilot for the Participating Parents for Progress Program, a project designed to help parents motivate their children to learn and to develop stronger ties between home and school, and took part in the Transitional First Grade Program. [20]

Members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), led by attorney Ovid Butler, founded North Western Christian University in 1855.  Located first at 13th Street and College Avenue, the university moved to the Irvington neighborhood in 1875.  Two years later, the institution changed its name to Butler University. Upon outgrowing its second campus in Irvington, Butler moved to the city’s north side in 1928. The University has grown since the 1920’s, often by incorporating a number of existing educational institutions.  In 1930 Butler assimilated the Teachers College of Indianapolis to form a College of Education.  In 1945 the old Indianapolis College of Pharmacy became a Butler college.  The Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music merged with Butler in 1951 to become what is now known as the Jordan College of Fine Arts.  The College of Religion formed its own identity in 1958 when it separated from Butler to become the Christian Theological Seminary. [21]

Both Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) have introduced a number of important educational, cultural, scientific, and sports facilities into the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood over the years.  The first building erected on the new Butler campus was the Collegiate Gothic-style Arthur Jordan Memorial Hall, designed by Robert Frost Daggett and opened in 1928.  The school also built some fraternity houses and erected the Williamsburg-inspired Religion Building and Sweeney Chapel (1942).  Following World War II, the university embarked upon additional construction projects, adding a Student Union building, dormitories, and the Pharmacy building.  The 1960s saw additional development of the campus with the construction of Clowes Memorial Hall (1963), which served as the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1984, and Irwin Library (1963).  During the 1990s, the university built the Residential College at the corner of Sunset and Hampton and closed off several internal roads to create a large pedestrian mall on campus.

Among the most prominent venues located on the Butler campus are Butler Fieldhouse (1928; later renamed Hinkle Fieldhouse), the nation’s oldest college basketball arena and site of the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s annual basketball championships from 1928 to 1994; the Holcomb Observatory (1954); the Hilton U. Brown Outdoor Theatre (1955), which served as the home of Starlight Musicals from 1955 to 1993; and the Edyvean Repertory Theatre (1991), a full-season theatre program sponsored by Christian Theological Seminary. [22]

For all its cultural and educational amenities, Butler-Tarkington ironically lacks a branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library.  Nevertheless, residents have access to Butler University’s Irwin Library and the CTS Library.  Another cultural asset immediately adjacent to the far west end of the Butler-CTS campus is the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  It should also be noted that the eastern boundary of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood is part of the North Meridian Street Corridor, served by the Meridian Street Foundation and marked by its many historic residences, including the Governor’s Residence at 4750 North Meridian Street.  The North Meridian Street Corridor was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. [23]

The community life of Butler-Tarkington always has been enriched through a number of parks and recreational facilities.  The earliest such neighborhood feature was Fairview Park, a private park opened to the public in 1890.  In its prime Fairview Park was known for such attractions as a pair of diving horses, a pony track, canoeing, a merry-go-round, freely roaming deer and peacocks, a miniature railway, and an annual visit by a group of Ojibwas who dramatized Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” along the Central Canal.  Following the purchase of the park by Butler University in 1922, Butler-Tarkington’s only formal recreational areas were playgrounds associated with the neighborhood schools.  In 1945, however, the city parks department purchased a 10-acre tract at 39th and Meridian Streets and turned it into Tarkington Park.  Today the neighborhood also is served by two additional small parks, Ramsey Park near Boulevard Place and 42nd Street and Mary Alice Carter Park at the intersection of Westfield Boulevard and Meridian Street. [24]

Butler-Tarkington also has witnessed the appearance of a number of social services and voluntary organizations over the past several decades, but the earliest example of such a program in the neighborhood dates to 1890.  Oscar McCulloch, pastor at Plymouth (Congregational) Church located at the southeast corner of New York and Meridian Streets, opened the Summer Mission for Sick Children (known also as the Fresh Air Mission) in part of Fairview Park.  The Mission was a private charity that provided a “fresh air mission” or summer camp for inner-city children (and frequently their mothers as well).  Over the years, the Summer Mission for Sick Children expanded its operations to include “permanent dormitories, a hospital, a dispensary, and a camp for tuberculosis patients.”  The camp closed in 1924 and the property sold to Butler University. [25]

Although the Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association was involved in a number of  youth-oriented programs in its early years, most of the neighborhood’s social services did not appear until the 1970s.  Perhaps the earliest such organization was the Metropolitan Area Citizen’s Organization (M.A.C.O.), which North United Methodist Church co-sponsored in the early part of that decade.  M.A.C.O. was dedicated to uniting churches, businesses, and residents into a coalition focused on improving community life. [26]

In 1972 the Butler-Tarkington Multi-Service Center opened with an initial focus on providing “recreational outlets for area youth.”  It quickly began to expand its services into other areas including drug prevention programs and an emergency food pantry.  The center’s name was changed to the Martin Luther King Multi-Service Center in 1983.  Following several years of study, the Center moved to its present location at 3909 North Meridian Street in 1984 and expanded its area of service to include both the Mapleton-Fall Creek and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods. [27]

Over the years many of the neighborhood’s social service programs have been sponsored by North United Methodist Church.  In 1970 North United Methodist Church was one of the founders of the Tri-Church Council, forerunner of the Mid-North Church Council.  While this group has limited its work to the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood, several of  the programs initiated by North United Methodist Church in association with the Council have also benefited residents of Butler-Tarkington.  Specifically, the Mapleton Area Senior Citizens Center (1973), the Bread `n Bowl Program (1980s), and the Mid-North Shepherd’s Center (1982), all have provided services to elderly residents of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. [28]
 Likewise, Mt. Paran Baptist Church, a black Baptist congregation located south of Butler-Tarkington at 3425 Boulevard Place, provides services to the elderly of the area.

Heritage Place of Indianapolis, a nonprofit multi-service agency for people 55 and over, was founded in 1976 by the Butler-Tarkington and Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Associations.  Headquartered on the first floor of University Park Christian Church, the agency continues to provide services for residents of both neighborhoods.  In 1990 Fairview Presbyterian Church, Faith United Christian Church, University Park Christian Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church joined together to found the Caring Place Adult Day Care Center.  Located in space provided by Fairview Presbyterian Church at 4609 North Capitol Avenue, the center is co-sponsored and managed by Catholic Social Services. [29]

Well into the 1990’s the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood has managed to retain much of its historic character as a middle-class, residential neighborhood.  Its 1990 population was 13,211, of which 62 percent were white and 37 percent were African-American.  While the neighborhood has successfully weathered the disruptions associated with integration in the 1950s and 1960s—due at least in part to the efforts of the racially mixed Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association—it is still challenged by the problems associated with a stable but aging population.  As noted above, however, the neighborhood’s churches appear to be addressing this need through the creation of a number of agencies aimed at providing services to persons 55 years of age and older.  At the same time, Butler-Tarkington continues to be the home of a number of cultural institutions as well as some of the city’s most significant educational institutions.  Today Butler-Tarkington remains what one resident called it—“one of the few places left in Indianapolis for City-Living.” [30]


 Sheryl D. Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington,” in the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis(Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1994), 372; “Butler-Tarkington Plan to Revive Area,” Indianapolis Star, 24 June 1970.


 During the 1950s and 1960s, the Indianapolis News annually published a story about the year’s gathering of the Old Mapleton Association held at North United Methodist the first Sunday after Labor Day.  Indiana State Library Clipping files: “Indiana Cities and Towns–Mapleton,”  see especially Indianapolis News,  8 April 1960 and 15 September  1972.


 Ibid. Also, see: Indianapolis Times,  3 June 1962; Cathleen F. Donnelly, “Mapleton-Fall Creek,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 960; Lamont Hulse, “The Suburbanization of Indianapolis,” Ibid., .


  David G. Vanderstel and Connie Zeigler, “In Pursuit of Leisure Time:  The Development and Role of Amusement Parks in Indianapolis, 1880s-1970,” (Indianapolis:  The Polis Center, 1992), 27-28.


  “Butler-Tarkington,” Indianapolis Magazine (September 1985), 81.


  David J. Bodenhamer, Lamont Hulse, and Elizabeth B. Monroe,The Main Stem:  The History & Architecture of North Meridian Street(Indianapolis:  Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, 1992), 3-27.


  “Butler-Tarkington,”  Indianapolis Magazine; Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington.”




  Ibid.; and the Department of Metropolitan Development of Indianapolis-Marion County, “Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Plan” (Indianapolis:  Department of Metropolitan Development Division of Planning, 1985), 12-14.


 “Butler-Tarkington” (Indianapolis:  The Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association, n.d.), .


  Ibid.; “Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Plan;” Peter Key, “Butler-Tarkington,” Indianapolis Star, 12 July 1992; and Sally Falk, “Life on a block,” Indianapolis Star, 29 November 1987.


  Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington;”  Louise Lee, “North Methodist Seeks Funds for New Building,” Indianapolis News, 23 March 1949, 19; Hester Ann Hale and Marilyn Harmon, A Celebration of Faith:  The Story of North Church (1994), 8-10.


  Ibid.; “North M.E. Church Dedication Today Will Culminate 12 Years’ Planning,” Indianapolis Star, 10 May 1931; and Ethel A. Wynne, “North Methodist Episcopal Church Had Beginning in Sugar Grove Mission,” Indianapolis News, n.d.


  Ethel A. Wynne, “Fairview Presbyterian Church had Origin in Henry Ward Beecher Days,” Indianapolis News, 2 May    1931; “Church Will Observe Its 50th Anniversary,” Indianapolis Star, 28 September 1974, 19; “Fairview Presbyterians Plan Services in New Sanctuary,”Indianapolis Star, 15 December 1951, 12; “2 New Catholic Parishes Defined,” Indianapolis Star, 9 September 1939; “New Church to be Dedicated,” Indianapolis News, 13 May 1939; “Work to Begin Soon on New Catholic Church,” Indianapolis News, 7 January 1939; “Procession to Open Dedication of St. Thomas Aquinas Church,” Indianapolis Star, 24 May 1969, 9; and Philip Allen, “St. Thomas Church Design `Primitive,’”Indianapolis News, 7 March 1970, 3.


  Ruth Holladay, “2 Congregations have found security under a single roof,” Indianapolis Star, 22 June 1985; “University Park Christian Church to Dedicate Church and Hammond Organ,” Indianapolis Star, 22 March 1953; and Suzanne McCarty, “Two congregations join forces in church building ownership,” Indianapolis News, 18 June 1988, A-8.


  “Methodists To Merge 2 City Groups,” Indianapolis Star, 3 June 1945; Ethel A. Wynne, “Fifty-First Street M.E. Church Results of Union with Hall Place Congregation,” Indianapolis News, 6 June 1931; Bruce Hilton, “Methodist `Mother Church’ Marks 130-Year Milestone,”Indianapolis News 28 June 1952, 4; Louise Lee, “Meridian Street Methodist Will Break Ground for New Building,” Indianapolis News, 26 November 1949, 11; Emma Rivers Milner, “Meridian Street Methodist Church Cornerstone to be Laid Next Sunday,” Indianapolis Times, 10 September 1950, B-19; Bess Watson, “Graceful Beauty Marks New Methodist Church,” Indianapolis News, 25 June 1952, 1; Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington;” “For the Retarded,”Indianapolis News, 14 December 1971; Jeane Jones Jell, “Noble School Thrives as Dream that Lived,”Indianapolis Times, 11 September 1957; p. 2; “Old School Now a Church,” Indianapolis Star, 12 September 1981, 17; and Isabel Boyer, “Unitarian-Universalists emphasize individuals’ beliefs, not doctrine,”Indianapolis Star, 3 January 1981.


  Ibid.; and Mary Wade Atteberry, “Sycamore School,” Indianapolis Star, 7 November 1990.


  Ibid.; “St. Thomas Aquinas School Being Built,” Indianapolis News, 18 April 1941; “Crockett beginning 9th year at helm of school,”Indianapolis News, 27 October 1987; “Matrons Revolt at Temporary School 86,” Indianapolis Times, 27 August 1939; “School 86 Pupils Will Return to New $130,000 Structure,” Indianapolis News, 27 August 1940; and Alexander E. Jones, “Butler University:  A Hoosier Tradition in Excellence,” 1968.




  “Schools 43, 86 Winter Work Set,” Indianapolis News, 31 December 1969, 29; “City’s summer school program mixes learning, fun,”Indianapolis Star, 6 July 1987, 27; Linda Gillis, “PPPositive force in education,” Indianapolis News, 25 February 1988, D-1 and “Special class helps pupils catch on,” Indianapolis News, 28 January 1988, B-1.


  George M. Waller, “Butler University,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 372;  Edwin L. Becker, “Christian Theological Seminary,”Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 418.


  Jones, “Butler University;” Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington;” William D. Dalton, “Hinkle Fieldhouse,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 682; Marian K. Towne, “Edyvean Repertory Theatre,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 533; Margot L. Eccles, “Starlight Musicals,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1291; and Mary Ellen Gadski, “Clowes Memorial Hall,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 453.


  Vanderstel, “Butler-Tarkington;” “New DAR Chapter House to be Dedicated in Ceremony Thursday,” Indianapolis Star, 9 September 1956, E-21; and Cathleen F. Donnelly, “North Meridian Street Corridor,”Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1057-1058.


  Vanderstel and Zeigler, “In Pursuit of Leisure Time;” “City’s New Park is Named for Booth Tarkington,” Indianapolis Star, 30 August 1945;” and Department of Metropolitan Development, “Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Plan,” 1985.


  Katherine Mandusic McDonell, “Summer Mission for Sick Children,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1310.   In 1908 Plymouth Church merged with Mayflower Congregational Church and took the name First Congregational Church, now located at 7100 North Pennsylvania Street.


  Hale and Harmon, A Celebration of Faith, 118-120.


  “King Center Here Starts Fund Drive,” Indianapolis News, 23 March 1983, 48; “Martin Luther King Multi-Service Center,” Indianapolis:  United Way, n.d.; and David J. Remondini, “King’s legacy gets new home,” Indianapolis Star, 16 January 1984, 19.


  Hale and Harmon, A Celebration of Faith, 118-122, 126, 136, 141-142; and Les R. Galbraith, “Mid-North Church Council:  Mission & Services Review,” 4 April 1996.


  Carol Elrod, “Day care that’s not for children:  Church program fills important need for senior citizens,” Indianapolis Star, 25 August 1990, B-6 and “Heritage Place gives seniors reasons to live,” Indianapolis Star, 26 May 1983, 26; and Kim L. Hooper, “Demands on Heritage Place rise as number over 65 grows,” Indianapolis Star, 29 November 1993.


  Ibid.; and “Butler-Tarkington,” The Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association, n.d.


North United Methodist Church begins additions and renovations to its building.


North United Methodist Church chooses not to “undertake a decision” concerning the Reconciling Congregation Program (the procedure under which Methodist churches openly accept “declared” homosexual and lesbian members).


Starlight Musicals closes production, ending its 38-year association with the Hilton U. Brown Outdoor Theatre on the Butler campus.


The Repertory Theatre at Christian Theological Seminary changes its name to the Edyvean Repertory Theatre in honor of the company’s founder, Dr. Alfred R. Edyvean.


Butler-Tarkington’s  population is 13,211, the second consecutive drop in the total population.  The area witnesses a slight decline in the black population from the previous census.

The Caring Place Adult Day Care Center opens in the Fairview Presbyterian Church at 4609 North Capitol Avenue.  The Center is sponsored by the Caring Community, an outreach project of Fairview Presbyterian Church, Faith United Christian Church, University Park Christian Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas  Catholic Church.  The Center is co-sponsored and managed by Catholic Social Services.


The Mid-North Church Council begins sponsoring the North Church Shepherd’s Center; the center’s name later is changed to the Mid-North Shepherd’s Center.

The Sycamore School moves into new quarters at 1750 West 64th Street.


IPS School 86 has its 3-feet-high, 300-pound bell restored.  It was damaged in a fire in the late 1960s.

IPS School 43 is selected as one of “10 inner-city elementary schools” to serve as a “test site” for the Participating Parents for Progress Program.  “Triple P,” sponsored by the State Department of Education’s Division of Educational Equity Programs and Indianapolis Public Schools’ Chapter II and Parents in Touch programs,  is designed to “help parents motivate their children to learn and to reinforce good parenting skills.”

IPS School 43 takes part in the Transitional First Grade Program which is  designed to assist “students of average ability who…lag behind other children their age.”

Christian Theological Seminary dedicates its new chapel.


IPS School 86 takes part in the new PrimeTime Plus summer program, designed to help “shore up” elementary school students’ academic weaknesses.


North Meridian Street Historic District is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Sycamore School, a parents-supported educational institution for gifted grade-school age children, opens at West 43rd Street and Clarendon Road in buildings leased from the Unitarian Universalists Church of Indianapolis.


The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra moves downtown to the Circle Theatre after a tenure of twenty years at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler campus.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Center moves into new quarters at 3909 North Meridian Street.  The building is purchased at a cost of $275,000.

University Park Christian Church and Faith United Christian Church begin sharing the former institution’s facilities at 4550 North Illinois Street.


North United Methodist Church opens North Church Shepherd’s Center.  The center caters to the needs of the neighborhood’s elderly residents and is directed by its clientele.

The Peace Education Group of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, a group of parishioners who have joined the church in refusing to pay federal taxes on telephone service, announces that it will start a poor fund from the money saved.

ca 1980s

North United Methodist Church begins a soup kitchen/free lunch program, the Bread ‘n Bowl Program.  The church also launches a program for children of working parents.

Faith United Christian Church is established.

St. Thomas Aquinas Church stops paying the federal taxes on its parish telephone bill to protest the nation’s nuclear arms buildup.


The Butler-Tarkington neighborhood experiences a population decline of 12 percent from the previous enumeration; the population now stands at 13,444–58 percent are white and 41 percent are African-American.


The Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis is formed and uses the facilities of Central Avenue United Methodist Church.


The Butler-Tarkington Multi-Service Center moves into a converted house owned by the Department of Parks and Recreation at 3951 N. Illinois Street.

North United Methodist Church starts “Mission 500,” a small community development program which tackles four projects a year.  Over time these projects include clearing trash from the church grounds, visiting and entertaining in nursing homes, and cleaning and painting homes in the Brightwood area.  The program runs for four years.


Heritage Place of Indianapolis, a nonprofit multi-service agency for people 55 and over, is founded by the Butler-Tarkington and Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Associations.  The agency is headquartered on the first level of the University Park Christian Church at 4550 North Illinois Street.


The State of Indiana acquires 4750 North Meridian Street for the official Governor’s Residence.

The Butler-Tarkington Multi-Service Center becomes an operating agency of Indianapolis Settlements, Inc.


North United Methodist Church takes over an adjacent property on 38th Street and rents the property to a drug-abuse center.  The house later serves as a Crime Watch Office and the M.A.C.O. headquarters before being torn down to make way for a parking lot.

IPS School 43 dedicates its new Lucille Stack Library-Media Center


North United Methodist Church completes construction of a bell tower and extensive renovations.  The project costs $225,000.

The Mapleton Area Senior Citizens Center opens in the fellowship hall of North United Methodist Church.


The Butler-Tarkington Multi-Service Center opens “in a storefront.”  The Center is primarily founded as a “recreational outlet for youth.”

IPS School 43 opens late due to delays in its $1.5 million renovation.


The Repertory Theatre at Christian Theological Seminary is formed.  It is the only community theatre in the nation with a “full season sponsored by a theological seminary.”

The Noble School relocates to new quarters at 2400 North Tibbs Avenue.


Metropolitan Area Citizens Organization (M.A.C.O.) is sponsored by North United Methodist Church, among other organizations.  The group is intended to unite churches, businesses, and residences into a coalition which will help the community.  The organization disbands within a few years.

Butler-Tarkington’s population is 15,270.  Over 41 percent of the population is now African-American.
North United Methodist Church is one of three founding members of the Mid-North Church Council, a group dedicated to “addressing neighborhood problems in a unified manner.”  Its work focuses on the Mapleton-Fall Creek Neighborhood.

IPS Schools 43 and 86 take part in the Lighted Schools Program, which offers a variety of classes for adults and children during the winter months.  Courses range from gourmet cooking and modern math to self defense and charm/grooming.  The Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association is a co-sponsor of the program.


St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church moves into a new building at 4610 North Illinois Street.  The structure is built at a cost of $300,000.


Christian Theological Seminary moves to its new campus at 1000 West 42nd Street.


Clowes Memorial Hall opens at 4600 Sunset Avenue on the campus of Butler University.  Built at a cost of $3.5 million, Clowes Hall has a seating capacity of 2,200 and serves as the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.


The Sertoma Club begins sponsoring Home Economic courses in the Commons Building at  Noble School II.


Fairview Presbyterian Church dedicates its new Christian Education building.


The population of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood is 14,480, an increase of only 4.5 percent from 1950. As a result of court decisions, the neighborhood experiences “white flight” to the suburbs and a large influx of African-Americans, who comprise 30.4 percent of the population.

The Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association incorporates and begins publishing a newsletter.


The Tarkington Park Tennis Club opens with facilities costing $93,000.

The Holcomb Carillon is built at Butler University.


The College of Religion separates from Butler University and forms an independent institution, Christian Theological Seminary.  The new school purchases a 36-acre tract for its campus at 1000 West 42nd Street.


Orchard Country Day School moves to 615 West 63rd Street.

Noble School II opens at 615 West 43rd Street, occupying four buildings previously part of the Orchard Country Day School.  The property is purchased by the Parents and Friends of Retarded Children, Inc. with funds supplied through a Lilly Endowment grant.


Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association is established to “conserve and improve the area by promoting cooperative efforts among residents, schools, churches, and civic interests.”  The group is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the nation

Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution moves into their new chapter house at 4635 North Illinois Street.


The Hilton U. Brown Outdoor Theatre is built at Butler University.  Starlight Musicals opens its 1955 season there with a production of “South Pacific.


The Holcomb Observatory is built on the Butler University campus


University Park Christian Church moves into its new $350,000 building at 4550 North Illinois Street.  The church is intended to serve the faculty and staff of Christian Theological Seminary.


Meridian Street United Methodist Church moves into its new building at 5500 North Meridian Street.  The building, which cost an estimated $850,000, is located on nearly five acres of land acquired for $30,000.


The Jordan College of Music merges with Butler University, forming the Jordan College of Music of Butler University.

Fairview Presbyterian Church dedicates a new addition, which includes a new sanctuary.  The structure is built at a cost of $250,000.


The neighborhood’s population is 13,849, an increase of 13 percent in ten years.  Whites still comprise the largest segment of the neighborhood–90 percent–however, African-American representation increases threefold.


The merger of the Meridian Street United Methodist Church with the 51st Street United Methodist Church is finalized.  The new entity continues to use the Meridian Street name.


Formed through the merger of the North Park Christian Church and the University Place Christian Church, University Park Christian Church purchases property, known as the “Blue Farm,”  at 46th and Illinois Streets.


The Indianapolis Park Department purchases a 10-acre tract at 39th and Meridian Streets for $63,000.  The park is named Tarkington Park in honor of noted Hoosier author, Booth Tarkington.

Butler University establishes the Butler College of Pharmacy by incorporating the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy.


St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church opens a school at 4600 North Illinois Street.  The school building, which cost $62,000, serves kindergarten through eighth grade.


The population of Butler-Tarkington is 12,244, an increase of 19 percent since the previous census enumeration.  Whites comprise 96 percent of the residents; African-Americans, 4 percent.

IPS School 86 moves into its new building at 200 West 49th Street.  The structure costs $130,000.

IPS School 43, The James Whitcomb Riley School, located at 40th Street and Capitol Avenue.


The Diocese of Indianapolis creates St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.  Its boundaries are:  Meridian Street from 34th Street north to the Marion County line, 34th Street west from Meridian Street to Boulevard Place, Boulevard Place north to 38th Street, 38th Street west to Northwestern Avenue, and Northwestern Avenue to the Marion County line.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church opens in a temporary frame structure at 46th and Illinois Streets.


North United Methodist Church, 3803 North Meridian Street, which began construction in 1925, dedicates its new building.  The structure, built at a cost of  $315,000, includes a $15,000 Hammond Organ speically designed for the church.

Hall Place Methodist Church merges with the 51st Street Methodist Church.  The combined congregation meets in a temporary structure at 51st Street and Central Avenue.


The population of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood is approximately 10,295, of which 97.4 percent is white.

Butler University establishes a Division of Evening Courses and merges its Department of Education with the Teachers College of Indianapolis to form the Butler College of Education.

The North Park Christian Church merges with the University Place Christian Church to form the University Park Christian Church.  The new church occupies the former University Place Christian Church building at 40th Street and Capitol Avenue.


Butler University relocates its campus to the former site of Fairview Park following the construction of a fieldhouse, a stadium, and a three-unit classroom building named the Arthur Jordan Memorial Hall.

IPS School 86 opens at 49th Street and Boulevard Place in what was called a “temporary” frame structure.


Orchard Country Day School moves to 610 West 42nd Street.


The 51st Street Methodist Episcopal Church is founded as a mission.  Services are held in a storeroom at 49th Street and College Avenue


Crown Hill Cemetery clears and prepares the North Burial Grounds at a cost of nearly $22,000.

Fairview Presbyterian Church enlarges its “temporary” chapel.  An addition is built to house Sunday School classes.  Both a Boy Scout troop and a Girl Scout troop begin to meet in a bungalow located on the church’s property.


Following decisions by both Fourth Presbyterian Church and Grace Presbyterian Church to relocate to the Fairview Park area of the city, the two congregations agree to merge, forming Fairview Presbyterian Church.  A temporary chapel is erected at 46th Street and Capitol Avenue.

Butler University establishes the College of Religion.

The Summer Mission for Sick Children closes its camp and sells the property to Butler University.


Author Booth Tarkington moves from his residence at 1100 North Pennsylvania Street to a new home at 4270 North Meridian Street where he lives until his death in 1946.


The Maple Road Methodist Church agrees to merge with the new church which is to be built at the corner of 38th Street and North Meridian Street.  The new church is named the North Methodist Episcopal Church.

Orchard Country Day School, a progressive elementary school, is established by Mary Stewart Carey in her home at 5050 North Meridian Street.

Butler University purchases the 250-acre Fairview Park from the Indianapolis Street Railway Company for $200,000.


The Indiana Area of the Methodist Church purchases the corner lot at 38th  and North Meridian Streets, for $25,000, with the intention of establishing a new church.


The Summer Mission for Sick Children consolidates its work with a number of the city’s other philanthropic organizations.


The Mapleton Methodist Episcopal Church is moved back 100 feet to accommodate the widening of West 38th Street.  The church adds a basement, new Sunday School rooms, a social room, and a kitchen.  The church is renamed the Maple Road Methodist Church.


The interior of Fourth Presbyterian Church is damaged by fire; services suspended for six months while repairs are completed.

IPS School 43 opens at 150 West 40th Street.


The Meridian Street Methodist Episcopal Church is rebuilt at the corner of Meridian and St. Clair Streets at a cost of $165,000.

Grace Presbyterian Church responds to a request from the neighborhood of Meridian Heights and begins sponsoring a mission and Sunday School in a school house at 46th Street and Central Avenue.  Plans are made to move the church into the area.


The Maple Lodge, a boarding house catering to young women moving from rural communities to work in Indianapolis, opens on the property now located at 615 West 43rd Street.

The Meridian Street Methodist Episcopal Church is destroyed by fire.

ca 1900

The Sugar Grove Methodist Episcopal Church builds a larger, white frame building on the same location.  The church is renamed the Mapleton Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Summer Mission for Sick Children erects a permanent dormitory, a hospital, a dispensary, and a camp for tuberculosis patients.


Grace Presbyterian Church dedicates its new building. at Capitol Avenue and 32nd Street.


The North Park Christian Church organizes at 29th Street and Kenwood Avenue.

Grace Presbyterian Church is organized at the corner of Capitol Avenue and 32nd Street.


Fourth Presbyterian Church relocates to a site at Alabama and 19th Streets.


Fourth Presbyterian moves to a site on Delaware Street near 17th Street.


The streetcar line to Fairview Park becomes the first in Indianapolis to be electrified.

Oscar McCulloch, pastor of Plymouth (Congregational) Church, founds the Summer Mission for Sick Children (a.k.a. the Fresh Air Mission) in Fairview Park.  The mission is dedicated to “taking inner-city children, and oftentimes their mothers, into the country for rest and recreation.”


The Board of Directors and owners of the Citizens Street Railway Company are authorized to purchase the 246-acre farm of Adam Scott, located along the Central Canal north of Indianapolis, for the purpose of developing a “suburban park” at the terminus of one of the streetcar lines.  The park is named “Fairview” in honor of the site’s “picturesque scenery.”

Crown Hill Cemetery begins purchasing its “North Burial Grounds” north of 38th Street.


Hall Place Methodist Episcopal Church, located at Hall Place and 16th Street, is dedicated.


Sugar Grove Methodist Episcopal Church is enlarged.


The forerunner of IPS School 43 is opened in the village of Mapleton.


Fourth Presbyterian Church moves to a new building at the northwest corner of Pennsylvania and Pratt Streets.


Mapleton town plat is recorded.


Mapleton continues to serve as a streetcar stop, with the turn-around west of the intersection at Maple Road and Illinois Street.


Wesley Chapel moves to a new location at Meridian and New York Streets.  The church changes its name to Meridian Street Methodist Episcopal Church.


Indianapolis street railway is extended up Illinois Street to Crown Hill Cemetery.


Following years of struggle, Fourth Presbyterian Church moves into its first permanent structure on the southwest corner of Delaware and Market Streets.


The Sugar Grove Mission is organized into the Sugar Grove Methodist Episcopal Church at the corner of  Maple Road and Meridian Street.


Twenty-four members from Second Presbyterian organize Fourth Presbyterian Church.


Village of Sugar Grove applies for a post office.  Since another community of that name is already registered in Indiana, the post office is granted under the name of Mapleton.


Wesley Chapel is rebuilt at a cost of $10,000.


Sugar Grove Mission is organized at the cabin of Delanson Slawson, in the vicinity of present-day 38th and Meridian Streets.


Wesley Chapel relocates to the southwest corner of the Circle and Meridian Street where a two-story brick building is erected


The mission founded by William Cravens moved to the corner of Meridian and Maryland Streets, where it was enlarged at a cost of $300.  Now called Wesley Chapel, the building accommodates 200 people and serves as both a school house and a church.


William Cravens helps to organize the first Methodist church in Indianapolis, the forerunner of today’s Meridian Street United Methodist Church.  Meetings are held in a log cabin on the grounds of the present State House.