Greenwood is the northernmost city in Johnson County. The city is bound on the north by County Line Road, the southern boundary between Johnson and Marion Counties. On the east, Greenwood is bordered by I-65 and by State Road 135 on the west.

Greenwood is the northernmost city in Johnson County. The city is bound on the north by County Line Road, the southern boundary between Johnson and Marion Counties.  On the east, Greenwood is bordered by I-65 and by State Road 135 on the west. Over the past five decades, the city of Greenwood has grown from a small rural town with a population of under 3,000 to a thriving community of over 25,000 residents in a largely urban setting.  As of 1990, Greenwood encompassed approximately ten square miles with over seventy-seven miles of streets, held a predominately white population (with a median age of 32.6 years), and showed a median home price of $74,400 [1]

Today Greenwood is home to a number of multi-million dollar industrial plants, an ever-growing number of up-scale housing developments, and one of the state’s largest shopping complexes.  At the same time, Greenwood has many restored Victorian homes, businesses, and specialty shops in its “Old Towne” section.  Although Greenwood is undeniably one of a growing number of “bedroom communities” for Indianapolis, the citizens of Greenwood are determined to maintain the city’s integrity as a distinct community with a proud history of its own and a vital future.

Early History

The movement and disruptions of Native American peoples prior to the 1700s makes it difficult to ascribe settlement of the area now encompassed by Greenwood to a specific tribe. [2]
  However, most histories of Greenwood (or Johnson County) write of a Delaware village located in White River Township on the western side of the White River by the early 1800s.  In 1813 this village is said to have been “all but wiped out” by a combined force of the Kentucky and Indiana Militias.  In 1818 the New Purchase treaties (negotiated in St. Mary’s, Ohio with the Miami and Delaware) opened central Indiana to Euro-American settlement.  That same year Captain Jacob Whetzel lay out The Whetzel Trace, “the earliest east-west route through central Indiana.”  Completed in 1819, the trail was cut wide enough for a team of oxen, and ran across Johnson County just two miles south of what is now Greenwood’s Main Street. [3]
 At the time Whetzel was marking his trail, the area now known as Johnson County was covered by “a dense forest with heavy underbrush, swamps and abundance of wild game in its forests, fish in its waters and many fresh water springs.” [4]
  The first Euro-American to settle in Johnson County was Richard Berry, who built a cabin a mile below Edinburg in 1819.  The first Euro-Americans to settle within the area encompassed by present-day Greenwood, however, were the brothers John B. and Isaac Smock of Mercer County, Kentucky, who arrived in 1823.  The Smocks were of Dutch ancestry and descended from seventeenth-century immigrants to New Amsterdam.  Over the next several years they were joined by a number of related families, all of whom were members of the New Providence Presbyterian Church of Mercer County, Kentucky.   In addition to settling in Johnson County, however, relatives of the Smocks also founded the Dutch Settlement in Switzerland County, Indiana, while still others were prominent members of the Shaker Community at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County, Kentucky. [5]

Initially known as Smocktown or Smock’s Settlement, the little community officially adopted the name of Greenfield in 1825.  In that same year, the first settlers organized what is now Greenwood Presbyterian Church, and Johnson County was also formed and named in honor of Judge John Johnson of the Indiana State Supreme Court.  In 1829 Pleasant Township was formed out of White River Township, and in 1833 the town changed its name to Greenwood to avoid confusion with Hancock County’s Greenfield. [6]
  The town’s first post office opened in 1828 in an inn owned by George T. Noble, brother of Indiana’s fifth governor, Noah Noble, while the first postmaster was James Smock, younger brother of John B. and Isaac Smock.  In addition to George T. Noble’s inn, John Wilson’s saw mill (where he began manufacturing coffins as early as 1828) was also among the earliest businesses to be established in Greenwood.   The community’s first school met from 1826 to 1832 in the Presbyterian Church’s first building.  In 1832 the Presbyterian Church moved into its second building (a simple frame structure measuring 40 x 50 feet) where the school continued to meet. [7]


Greenwood’s second church, the Mt. Auburn Methodist Church, was organized in 1835 and began meeting in the home of William Harrell.  Later that year the Honey Creek United Brethren Church was organized in White River Township, southwest of  the town.  The following year, Mt. Auburn moved into its first building, later known as the “Old Mud School House,” and provided space to Greenwood’s second school.  Mt. Auburn built its present structure at Stone’s Crossing in 1904, with an addition to the south side of the building completed in 1930. [8]

In 1839 the Greenwood Baptist Church began to meet in a grove on the Josiah Bass farm.  Greenwood Baptist (aka, First Baptist Church of Greenwood) did not erect its first building, however, until 1844, while Honey Creek United Brethren Church did not move into its first permanent structure until 1845.  Greenwood’s first Christian congregation, the Rocklane Christian Church, was organized in 1846 and moved into its first building in 1849.  Rocklane rebuilt its church at the same location in 1874. Although it also was organized in 1849, the Greenwood (United) Methodist Church was appointed head of the local circuit in 1850 after erecting its first building at the corner of Pearl and Meridian Streets.  In 1853 Greenwood Presbyterian Church relocated to a larger frame building at the corner of Main and Brewer Streets in downtown Greenwood.  The Olive Branch United Brethren Church erected its first building on Olive Branch Road just south of Smith’s Valley in 1859, and in 1902 this church relocated to Smith Valley Road and changed its name to the Smith’s Valley United Brethren Church.  In 1860 the Greenwood Baptist Church moved to its present location on Main Street. [9]

Built at a cost of $2,400, the Greenwood Christian Church dedicated a new brick structure at the corner of Pearl and Smart Streets on November 12, 1868.  This congregation traced its origins to a society that was first organized on a farm just north of Greenwood in 1838.  The original group was forced to disband in the 1840s, however, because so many of the members left the neighborhood.  Greenwood Christian Church did not formally reorganize until 1860, when it began meeting in an abandoned school building at the corner of Broadway and Meridian Streets.  In 1902 the congregation rebuilt its church at the same site, and in 1963 Greenwood Christian Church purchased the Donnell estate on south Madison Avenue for $47,500.  Built at a cost of $181,055, the new building was dedicated on October 20, 1963. [10]

In 1884 the community’s third Christian congregation, Mt. Pleasant Christian Church, was organized and began meeting in a small structure in White River Township.  Greenwood Methodist Church moved into a new brick building at the corner of Brewer and Broadway Streets in 1887.  Built at a cost of $7,000, this building served the congregation (with additions completed in 1922 and 1953) until the 1960s, when the congregation moved into its present building at 525 N. Madison Avenue.  In 1898 Greenwood Presbyterian erected a new brick building at the same location on the corner of Brewer and Main Streets.  An education building was later added.  Greenwood Baptist followed suit in 1899, tore down its frame building, and erected a large brick structure in its place.  A noteworthy innovation was the inclusion of a formal baptistery—a first for Greenwood’s churches.  Later additions to this building include an educational unit and a full basement. [11]

In the twentieth century Greenwood’s faith community has expanded to include a number of denominations not found there in the nineteenth century.  In 1922 the Pilgrim Holiness Church was organized and in 1944 the Advent Lutheran Church began holding services in Greenwood’s Community House.  Formally organized in 1957, Advent Lutheran moved into its current building at 1363 U.S. Highway 31 in May 1960.  With about forty families in the area, the Catholic Diocese of Indianapolis organized a new parish in 1949, encompassing the three northern townships of Johnson County.  The community’s first Catholic Church, Our Lady of [the] Greenwood, was dedicated on February 19, 1950.  By 1955, with 160 families now residing in the parish, a resident pastor was assigned to the church for the first time, and Our Lady of [the] Greenwood Catholic Elementary School opened.  After holding services in Greenwood City Park as the Mission Work Gospel Services for two years, Calvary Apostolic Church was organized and began meeting in a remodeled building at 206 South Washington Street.  In 1956 the congregation moved into another building at 101 East Pearl Street.  Today they meet at 99 West Broadway. [12]

In 1952 Greenwood Baptist Church opened a mission on Smith Valley Road that was formally organized as the Smith Valley Baptist Church in 1955, and the next year Concordia Lutheran Church began holding services in the Greenwood American Legion Post building.  Previously located at 102 South Madison Avenue in 1957, Concordia Lutheran Church moved into its current building at 305 Howard Road in 1964.  Greenwood’s first Southern Baptist congregation, Calvary Southern Baptist, began by holding its services in the Kindergarten Room at the Community House in 1962.  In 1963, however, Calvary Southern Baptist Church moved into Greenwood Christian Church’s former building on Smart Street.  Today Calvary Southern Baptist is located at 200 Sunset Boulevard.   Since the 1960s, as Greenwood’s population continued to grow, the community has also become home to a thriving Community Church as well as Church of God, Nazarene, Assemblies of God, and Pentecostal congregations.  Likewise, Greenwood has witnessed the founding of a number of new Baptist, Catholic, and Methodist churches over the past thirty years. [13]


As already noted, Greenwood’s earliest schools were conducted in the town’s churches.  Indeed, the original Greenwood School (the Greenwood Presbyterian Academy) was operated by the Greenwood Presbyterian Church from 1826 to 1853.  In 1864, however, the community pooled its resources to build a “substantial brick school.”  Unfortunately, this building burned in 1865 and school had to be held in an abandoned home on East Main Street.  In 1868 a new two-story four-room brick school house was dedicated.  Additions to this building continued until 1899, when the structure was declared unsafe.  In 1901 the building was torn down and replaced by a $17,000, twelve-room structure that housed all twelve grades.  Isom [Central] Elementary School was built in 1906, and the Greenwood School became the town’s Junior-Senior High School.  In 1928 Greenwood High School opened, but in 1942 it, too, was destroyed by fire.  The Greenwood School Board began building a new Junior-Senior High School in 1950, yet construction continued through 1960.  Greenwood’s growing population was also reflected by the construction of elementary schools in 1960 (Northeast) and 1962 (Southeast).  In 1970 the town dedicated the new $4.5 million Greenwood High School, while the former Junior-Senior High School became Greenwood Middle School.  In 1996 Greenwood opened its fourth elementary school, Westwood.  Today, the Greenwood community is served by three school systems, the Greenwood Community School Corporation, Center Grove Schools, and Central Nine Vocational-Technical Schools. [14]

Government and Politics

Although Greenwood’s first settlers began arriving in the 1820s, the town did not incorporate until 1864.  Greenwood’s population, however, continued to grow at a very slow rate through the mid-twentieth century (the town’s first housing development was not begun until 1946), while agriculture continued to dominate the local economy well into the 1950s.  Until 1960, the year Greenwood became a fifth-class city, the town was governed by a three-member town board.  In 1956, however, a vote mandated the formation of a mayor-council form of city government by  January 1, 1960.  The first mayor of Greenwood was Democrat Walter Burkhart who served one term.  Beginning in 1964 the Republicans took hold of the mayor’s office for the next twenty years, a lock broken in 1984 by the election of Democrat Jeanette Surina, the first woman to hold that office. Events in Indianapolis during the early 1970s (such as the creation of UNIGOV in 1970 and the 1973 court-ordered bussing desegregation of Indianapolis schools) prompted a “flight” out of Marion County, which contributed to the rapid expansion of Greenwood’s population.  From 7,200 residents in 1960, Greenwood’s population reached 26,265 by 1990.  Since the 1970s, Greenwood’s expanding commercial interests and growing population have greatly altered the city’s political culture.  Increasingly Greenwood’s politics have been dominated by concerns over the need to improve the school and sanitation systems, tax rates, crime, and the town’s civic life in general.  There also has been mounting concern, on the part of Greenwood’s neighbors, over the city’s zoning policies and its expansionist attitude.  The 1996 election highlighted many of these issues and proved to be the most expensive (not to mention rancorous) mayoral campaign in the city’s history. [15]


Among Greenwood’s first businesses was an inn operated by George T. Noble.  By 1828 the inn, which stood at a crossroads on the Madison State Road in the town’s center, was thriving.  Other early business operations included a saw mill and a coffin manufacter.  James W. Parker is generally recognized as the town’s first merchant.  In 1846 he opened a general store at the corner of what is now Madison Avenue and Main Street.  The Madison and Indianapolis Railroad was completed in 1847, and the “first train west of the Allegheny Mountains ran through Greenwood on 1-October-1847.”  Later that year, Richard Steen erected a carding mill.  In 1850 A.G. Searle established an iron foundry.  The single most important business venture in Greenwood in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, was the J.T. Polk (Canning) Company. [16]
  Founded in 1872 by James T. and Laura Polk in the kitchen of their Greenwood home, the company eventually grew to become the largest cannery west of  Baltimore and the town’s biggest employer.  Marketed under the brand name “Polk’s Best,” the company canned tomatoes, corn, peas, and other vegetables, all grown in the surrounding countryside.  In its peak years of production, the company had over 3,000 acres of local farmland under contract.  In the 1890s Polk expanded his operations by starting a successful dairy business, becoming the first person to deliver milk regularly to customers in Indianapolis.  During World War I the company contracted with the federal government to can beef and other foodstuffs for military provisions.  In 1930 the Stokely Company (later Stokely-Van Camp) purchased the J.T. Polk (Canning) Company and operated it until 1959. [17]

Since the 1960s, however, Greenwood’s commercial life has been dominated by the Greenwood Shopping Center (now Greenwood Park Mall) and a half-dozen factories, several of which are Japanese-owned and most of which are linked to the automotive industry.  Built on an 87-acre site by Atkinson & Company at a cost of $25 million, the Greenwood Shopping Center opened in 1966.   In 1977 Melvin Simon & Associates purchased the mall for an undisclosed amount of money, and in 1980—after much renovation and expansion—it was reopened as the Greenwood Park Mall.  By 1990 an average of 10 million shoppers a year (about 28,000 a day) were patronizing the Greenwood Park Mall.  More recently Greenwood has become home to two Japanese-owned businesses, Alpine Electronics Manufacturing of America, Inc., and Nachi Technology, Inc., each of which built multi-million-dollar industrial plants.  Most of Greenwood’s working population, however, is employed in Indianapolis. [18]

Community and Social Life

The city of Greenwood also is heir to a interesting cultural and social history.  For instance, the city’s newspapers date back to 1888 when Sumner Rose began publishing The Graphic.  Although The Graphic‘s owners moved the paper to Ingalls, Indiana in 1893, the city’s second paper (The Era) began publication that same year.  In 1972 the SouthsideChallenger began publication, and since 1986 the town has also been home to the Greenwood Gazette.  The city’s first attempt to organize a public library was mounted in 1894 by James T. Polk, but it was discontinued in 1896.  In 1911 members of Greenwood’s Civic League failed to agree on the location for the construction of a Carnegie Foundation Library and, as a result, the group was forced to rent temporary quarters and begin collecting donated books.  Five years later, in 1916, the Greenwood Public Library opened with a total collection of thirty-five books.  Today the library’s collection stands at more than 66,000 volumes. [19]

In the 1890s the Greenwood Mineral Water Association was formed after James T. Polk accidentally discovered a mineral water deposit while drilling for natural gas.  Although Polk washed his hands of the enterprise, a group of  investors soon was bottling and shipping Greenwood Mineral Water throughout the Midwest.  By the turn of the century, the company was operating the Greenwood Sanitarium and attracting guests to the spa with promises to cure everything from “nasal catarrh” and Bright’s disease to the ubiquitous “female troubles” and “nervous prostration” through a variety of “Turkish, Vapor and Electric baths.”   The Greenwood Sanitarium was destroyed by fire in 1914 and was never rebuilt. [20]

In 1920 the James T. and Laura Polk Memorial Community House opened. Greenwood’s “Community House” included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 500, a fully equipped gymnasium, and a pool.  The Community House served as the meeting site for many of the city’s clubs as well as a movie theatre and the home of the Greenwood Community Players (amateur theatrical troupe).  In a move to maintain a valuable link to the city’s past and to acknowledge the unique role the Community House had played in that past, Greenwood’s town council elected to restore the Community House in the 1980s after years of neglect.  In 1986, Greenwood City Hall moved into its new quarters in the Community House following a $900,000 restoration program. [21]

Today, Greenwood struggles to maintain its historic identity as an independent municipality despite its function as a bedroom community of Indianapolis.  While the city’s growth (both in terms of population and commercial enterprise) is clearly linked to its close proximity to the Hoosier capital, Greenwood’s leaders maintain that the city has much to offer potential investors and resident—that which is individual to Greenwood and distinct from Indianapolis.  But it remains to be seen if Greenwood will be successful in its attempt to preserve its identity or whether it will ultimately be absorbed by Indianapolis’ urban sprawl.


 Connie J. Zeigler, “Greenwood,” in The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, eds. (Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1994): 644.


 Elizabeth J. Glenn, “Native Americans” in The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1042-1043; Will F. Averitt, History of Greenwood, Indiana:  1823-1965 (Greenwood, IN:  1965):  1-3.


 Ibid., 2.


 Ibid., 7-10; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 3-5; Jeffery A. Duvall, “Ethnicity in a Rural Midwestern Community:  Switzerland County, Indiana in the Twentieth Century” (M.A. thesis, Indiana University, 1995), 23-24.


 Averitt, History of Greenwood, 5-6; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 11,19, 25, 33.


 Ibid., 12, 15.


 “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 11-17.


 Ibid., 12, 15.


 Averitt, History of Greenwood, 57-70.


 Ibid.; “Greenwood Area Centennial.” 11-17.


 Averitt, History of Greenwood,  57-70; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 11-17.


 Greenwood Ministerial Association, “Welcome to the Church of Your Choice in Your Community” (Greenwood, IN:  privately printed, n.d.); Bill Romanovich, “Churches expanding all over Greenwood,” Indianapolis News, 26-July-1962; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 57-70; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 11-17.


 Averitt, History of Greenwood, 57-70; Herb Perry, “Church’s building plans queried, day care, annexation issues,” Indianapolis Star, 14-February-1996; Sarah Pierson, “New freezer to enable Lighthouse Ministries to feed more,” Indianapolis Star/News, 28-December-1996; Greenwood Ministerial Association, “Welcome;” “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 11-17; Lynn Hopper, “Church a ‘1-stop shop’ for 3 different faiths,” Indianapolis Star, 30-November-1995.


 “Greenwood:  City of Pride and Progress,” 13, 19-23; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 18-22; “Greenwood School Work Moving Along,”Indianapolis News, 22-January-1969; John Masson, “New School, New Adventures,”  Indianapolis Star, 23-August-1996.


Zeigler, “Greenwood,” 644; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 4-5, 50; Phil Blankenhorn, “Mayor has no regrets as term nears end,” Indianapolis Star, 22-December-1996; “Council elect Boner Greenwood mayor,”Indianapolis Star, 6-June-1972; Jerry Graff, “Greenwood Mayor will run for post again,” Indianapolis News, 26-January-1996 and “Sewage at center of mayoral debate,” Indianapolis Star, 30-September-1995; Harold Martin, “Mayor has job for city’s best minds,” Indianapolis News, 28–November-1963; John Masson, “Mayoral challenger has big bucks,”Indianapolis Star, 3-November-1995; “Opposition to private sanitation plant growing at Greenwood,” Indianapolis Star, 27-June-1973; James Peters, “Sanitation plant near Greenwood called political.” Indianapolis Star, 1-July-1973; Jennifer Schmits, “Greenwood’s pride:  New facilities stand as legacy to a former mayor” and “McGovern in charge:  Greenwood’s mayor brings vast experience to her office,” Indianapolis Monthly (July 1993):  138-142; Bruce C. Smith, “Greenwood property tax hike sought for upgrade of schools,” Indianapolis Star 17-November-1987; George Stuteville, “Greenwood needs to reclaim identity,”Indianapolis Star, 1-May-1985.


 Averitt, History of Greenwood, 5-8; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 25, 34.

 Zeigler, “Greenwood,” 644; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 13-14; “Old Settler’s Days:  Smock’s & Polk’s build the city;” “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 37.

 “Greenwood:  City of Pride and Progress,” 9-10, 14, 18-19; “Greenwood to get $25 million center,” Indianapolis News, 4-November-1963; Bill Koenig, “Japanese firms say expanding here not easy,”Indianapolis Star, 25-September-1996; “Louis Armstrong, Miss Indiana to help open Greenwood center,” Indianapolis Star, 8-May-1966; “12 Million shopping center expansion set,” Indianapolis News, 8-September-1967; “Simon buys Greenwood Center,” Indianapolis News, 5-January-1977.

 Ibid.; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 31-33; “Greenwood Area Centennial,” 23; “Greenwood:  City of Pride and Progress,” 24.

“Greenwood Area Centennial,” 41; Averitt, History of Greenwood, 46-47.

 Ibid., 48;  Schmits, “Greenwood’s Pride,” 142; Bruce C. Smith, “Historic Center gets a new lease,” Indianapolis Star, 12-August-1986.


Charles E. Henderson (R) becomes the ninth mayor of Greenwood.

The Community Church of Greenwood donates $7,500 to Lighthouse Ministries toward the purchase of a walk-in freezer capable of storing up to 35,000 pounds of food.

Greenwood Community High School begins random drug testing of athletes and cheerleaders.

Westwood Elementary School opens on Honey Creek Road, south of Smith Valley Road.

Construction costs are $12 million.


Kelly Publications begins publishing the Business Update.

Mayor Margaret McGovern (D) is defeated by Charles E. Henderson (R) in the most expensive mayoral campaign in Greenwood’s history.

Greenwood Middle School contracts with Ameritech for a $154,000 improvement of the school’s technological infrastructure.

Two members of the STP (“Safe-Taking Posse”) gang are arrested and charged with committing numerous burglaries in Greenwood. Local law enforcement agencies estimate that the gang has over 100 members in central Indiana.

Mayor McGovern appoints a fifteen-member council to promote fine arts activities in the Greenwood area.


The population of Greenwood reaches 29,425.


The Greenwood Goodwill Store opens at 779 U.S. 31.

Kelly Publications begins publishing the Greater Greenwood Business Journal. By 1995 circulation is reported to be 10,000.


Following the death of Mayor Surina, Margaret McGovern (D) is selected to serve as interim mayor until the next election. Later that year, Mayor McGovern is elected to the office. A new 3-building municipal facility adjacent to City Hall (located off Craig Park along Main Street) is named Surina Square in honor of the late mayor. The center includes a new $2.5 million Community Center, a $1.5 million fire department headquarters, and the city’s main fire station as well as the new $3.2 million police headquarters.


The population of Greenwood reaches 26,265.


Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. announces plans to build a $31 million ball-bearing factory (Nachi Technology, Inc.) in Greenwood.


Greenwood City Hall relocates to the Polk Community House following a $900,000 renovation of the building.

Kelly Publications begins publishing the Greenwood Gazette.  By 1995, circulation is reported as 14,000.

Greenwood purchases Skyway Airport for $1.1 million. The airport will be renamed the Greenwood Municipal Airport.

Alpine Electronics Manufacturing of America, Inc., builds a $25 million facility in Greenwood. The Japanese-owned business manufactures automobile stereo systems.


Ball State University undertakes a study of Greenwood at the request of the mayor’s office.


Jeanette Surina (D) becomes mayor of Greenwood.  Surina is Greenwood’s seventh mayor and the first woman to hold that office.  She is also the first Democrat to be elected in twenty years.

Greenwood’s new post office opens.  Located at the corner of Smith Valley Road and U.S. 31, the new post office will serve 45,000 customers.

The Greenwood Community Church dedicates a $350,000 addition.


Vaino Grayam (R) becomes Greenwood’s sixth mayor.

The population of Greenwood reaches 19,781.

Following its enclosure, extensive renovations, and expansion, the Greenwood Shopping Center reopens as the Greenwood Park Mall.


Greenwood becomes part of the Marion County Regional Sanitation and Waste Water Treatment System.  The town’s two sanitation plants at Howard Road and Fry Road become part of a “monitoring system.”  The contract stipulates that Greenwood can only send 7.8 million gallons of sewage through the Southport Treatment Plant on a daily basis.

First Friends of Johnson County moves into a new meeting house at 631 N. Meridian.


Yeager Construction Co. sells Valle Vista Golf Resort to Stanley F. Kern and his sons.  The Kern family announces plans to privatize the club (under the name Valle Vista Country Club).


Melvin Simon & Associates purchases the Greenwood Shopping Center from Atkinson & Co.


Lawrence Myers (R) becomes the fifth mayor of Greenwood.


The Greenwood Public Library dedicates a new two-story addition.  Construction costs $460,000.


John Hardin and Sonny Sanders begin publishing the Southside Challenger.

John O. Boner (R) becomes Greenwood’s fourth mayor. He is appointed by the city council to fill out the remainder of the late Harold “Jack” Smith’s term.


The population of Greenwood reaches 11,740.

A new $4.5 million Greenwood High School opens in the fall.  The former Junior-Senior High School becomes Greenwood Middle School.


Harold “Jack” Smith (R) becomes Greenwood’s third mayor.


Greenwood Shopping Center undergoes a $12 million expansion.


The Fry Road Sanitation plant is opened.

Built by Atkinson & Co., the Greenwood Shopping Center opens.  The mall sits on an 87-acre site and costs $25 million.

Northeast Elementary School builds an addition.


Southwest Elementary School builds an addition.


“Mike” Myers (R) becomes Greenwood’s second mayor.

The Greenwood Public Library moves into its new building at the southeast corner of the old city park. The new building covers 38,415 square feet and cost $119,000.

Concordia Lutheran Church moves into a new building at 305 Howard Road.


Greenwood Christian Church dedicates its new building on South Madison Avenue.  The property was the former Donnell estate and was purchased for $47,500. Construction costs for the new church were $181,055.

Northern Park Baptist Church dedicates its new building.

Calvary Southern Baptist Church purchases Greenwood Christian Church’s former building at Broadway and Smart Streets.


Smith’s Valley United Brethren Church completes another addition.

Calvary Southern Baptist Church holds its first meeting in the Kindergarten Room at the Community House.

The twelve-room Southwest Elementary School is built.

Greenwood Village opens.  Built by the Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Retired Teachers Association, the 192-apartment community for retired teachers is located on a forty-six-acre site on US Highway 31.


The population of Greenwood reaches 7,169, and Greenwood becomes a fifth-class city.

Walter Burkhart (D) is elected Greenwood’s first mayor.

Advent Lutheran Church dedicates its new building, located on U.S. Highway 31 South.

Northern Park Baptist Church is organized.

Northeast Elementary School opens with twelve classrooms.


Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church and School builds a Sisters’ residence as an addition to the school.

Greenwood Junior/Senior High School builds a cafeteria and another eighteen classrooms.

Stokely-Van Camp closes its Greenwood facility and relocates operations to Indianapolis.

The Clark Dairy Supply Company, Inc., is formed.  The following year the Clark Machine Company is incorporated as a division of Clark Dairy Supply.

The Greenwood Urban Club open a $150,000 pool.


Continued growth of the parish makes it necessary for Our Lady of Greenwood to expand the school facilities.


Advent Lutheran Church is officially organized and construction begins.

Concordia Lutheran Church moves to a building at 102 South Madison Avenue.

Greenwood’s new post office building opens.


The Howard Road sanitation plant opens. The plant is owned and operated by Greenwood, and undergoes expansions in 1963 and 1969.

Calvary Apostolic Church moves to a building at 101 East Pearl Street.

Concordia Lutheran Church is organized. The first services are held in the Greenwood American Legion Post building.


Smith’s Valley Baptist Church is formally organized.

Honey Creek United Brethren Church undergoes extensive reconstruction.

Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church builds a rectory, with parish offices and priest’s residence.  The church also opens a school with an initial enrollment of 170 pupils.  The school is staffed by Sisters of Providence and lay teachers.  A resident pastor also is appointed.


Rocklane Christian Church builds an addition.

A twelve-room addition, library, shop, and a gymnasium with a seating capacity of 3,000 are added to the Greenwood High School. Funding is provided by the Greenwood School Foundation, Inc., and the Greenwood School Building Corporation.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church constructs an educational building.


Smith’s Valley United Brethren Church adds a fellowship hall.

Smith’s Valley Baptist Church is founded as a mission of the Greenwood Baptist Church.


Greenwood Baptist Church constructs an educational unit. This is followed by a second addition and a full basement.

Calvary Apostolic Church begins holding services in the Greenwood City Park as the Mission Work Gospel Services.  After two years, the Calvary Apostolic Church begins holding services in a building at 206 South Washington Street.


The Greenwood Public Library relocates to the Community House.

The population of Greenwood reaches 3,051.

Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church is dedicated.  The church is built to accommodate 200, with provisions for future expansion as needed. Funding for the building was supplied by St. John’s Catholic Church of Indianapolis through the Home Missions of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  No resident pastor is appointed, and the parish is initially served by the clergy of St. John’s Catholic Church.

The Greenwood School board erects a six-room Junior-Senior High School building. The equipment for the new school is furnished by the Greenwood School Foundation, Inc.

Noblitt-Sparks Industries, Inc., changes its name to Arvin Industries, Inc.  The company produces automotive tubular exhaust equipment for Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Chrysler Corporation, and International Harvester Company.  By the mid-1960s the company employed 300 workers in its Greenwood facilities.  As of 1994, however, Arvin North American Automotive, Inc., employs only 100 workers at its Greenwood facility.

Greenwood (United) Methodist Church builds a new parsonage.


Forest Walker begins the Walker Hatchery and Egg Farm.


The Catholic Diocese of Indianapolis organizes a new parish comprising the three northern townships of Johnson County. Ground is broken in Greenwood for the construction of the first Catholic church in the area.


The Hoosier Mineral Feed Company’s plant is destroyed by fire. Construction on a new and enlarged plant is begun.

Advent Lutheran Church holds its first service in the Community House.


The Greenwood News is merged with the Franklin Democrat.  The new paper becomes the Johnson County News.


Greenwood High School building is destroyed by fire.


The interurban linking Greenwood to Indianapolis shuts down operation.


The population of Greenwood reaches 2,499.


The Greenwood (United) Methodist Church undergoes a $9,000 renovation.


Following the closure of both Greenwood’s banks in the 1933 Bank Holiday, the Comptroller of the Currency instructs them to merge in 1934.  Formed from the former Citizens National Bank and The First National Bank, the new institution is known as the National Bank of Greenwood.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church purchases a pipe organ (at a cost of $2,000) from the Locust Street Methodist Church of Greencastle, Indiana.


Mt. Auburn United Methodist Church builds an addition to the south side of the church.

The J.T. Polk Company is purchased by the Stokely Company (later Stokely-Van Camp).


Greenwood High School opens.  The twelve-room building is erected south of the elementary school and faces Broadway.  The building contains a large study hall as well as a gymnasium that also served as an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,200.


Smith’s Valley United Brethren Church moves into a new brick building across the street from its former location.

The Indianapolis Pump and Tube Company changes its name to Noblitt-Sparks Industries, Inc.

The Hoosier Mineral Feed Company moves into a new factory located near the Pennsylvania Railroad.


Maurice Johnson begins the Midwest Mineral Feed Company


The Indianapolis Pump and Tube Company opens a new factory with a total floor space of 30,000 square feet.  The factory begins manufacturing a new product, the Arvin Hot Air Heater for automobiles.

The Hoosier Mineral Feed Company is formed by Dr. E. E. Clore, a practicing veterinarian and former Veterinary Inspector for the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Department of Agriculture. The business begins producing mineral feeds for all kinds of livestock in the former Lemasters Feed Store on Pearl Street.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church builds an annex.

Pilgrim Holiness Church is organized.

The Indianapolis Air Pump Company incorporates under the new name, Indianapolis Pump and Tube Company.


The James T. and Laura Polk Memorial Community House is dedicated.  Before the year is out, the Community House is home to both the Greenwood Public Library and the newly formed acting troop, the Greenwood Community Players.  The Community House includes an auditorium with a seating capacity of 500, a gymnasium, and a pool.  The Community House serves as a meeting sight for numerous local clubs and organizations (such as the Boys’ Club and the Greenwood Lions Club).


Q.G. Noblitt, Frank H. Sparks, and Albert G. Redmond form the Indianapolis Air Pump Company.  The company manufactures automobile tire pumps and produced 30,000 in the first year of operation.


The Greenwood Building Association is formed.  In 1936 a federal charter was issued to the group.  Dr. James A. Craig serves as the first president.


The Greenwood Public Library opens with a collection of thirty-five books.


Citizens Water and Light Company is sold to the Interstate Public Service Company, precursor of Public Service Indiana. Greenwood (United) Methodist church installs memorial windows and electricity.


Dr. James A. Craig purchases the Greenwood Sanitarium from the Heck sisters.


The Civic League fails to agree on a location for the construction of a Carnegie Foundation library.  Temporary quarters are rented in Cook’s Hall at 241 W. Main Street instead and the newly constituted board of (library) trustees begins collecting books.


The Greenwood Cemetery is expanded by the purchase of an adjoining twenty-five acre tract.


A private group of investors forms Citizens National Bank located on the south side of Main Street in downtown Greenwood.

George Moorman purchases the Greenwood Era.

The J.T. Polk Company’s factory is destroyed by fire.  It is rebuilt and resumes operations within the year.

Isom Elementary School is built.


Greenwood grants a new water and light franchise to Dr. James A Craig and John W. Henderson. The new utility is organized under the name, the Citizens Water and Light Company.

Indianapolis Southern Railroad Company is granted its first franchise in Johnson County, construction is completed the next year. In 1911 the railway passes under the control of the Illinois Central Railroad Company. Depots were located near the Sanitarium and the J.T. Polk Company factory, as well as on Smith Valley Road, west of Road 135.


Mt. Auburn United Methodist Church moves into its present building located at Stone’s Crossing on property donated by Harvey Harrell.

The Greenwood Banking Company is reorganized and incorporated under the name, The First National Bank.  Grafton Johnson serves as the president of the new corporation.


Greenwood Christian Church dedicates a new brick building located at the corner of Broadway and Smart Streets.

Olive Branch United Brethren Church relocates to a new building on Smith Valley Road and changes its name to Smith’s Valley United Brethren Church.

Greenwood Water Company completes construction of a water and light plant. A franchise for both works was granted to Samuel Perrott and Henry Ulen, who leased the plant to Greenwood for an annual fee.


The Greenwood School is torn down and replaced by a new $17,000 structure that opens in the next year.  The new building contains twelve classrooms and a basement.  The new Greenwood School houses all twelve grades.

Congress authorizes the establishment of the first Rural Routes from the Greenwood Post office. By this time there are sixteen mail delivery routes operating out of Greenwood.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church builds a parsonage.

Lora and Maggie M. Heck purchase the holdings of the Greenwood Sanitarium Water Association as well as an adjoining five-acre tract and erect a large hotel (including mineral baths). The Greenwood Sanitarium soon attracts patients from throughout the Midwest.

John Swann purchases the Era and changes its name to the Greenwood Era.


Greenwood Baptist Church dedicates its present building on the south side of Main Street.

The Greenwood & Franklin Railway is completed. The interurban links Indianapolis to Greenwood.  Regular cars don’t begin running, however, until the following year. The line extended to Franklin in 1902 and, in 1903, to Columbus, Indiana.


John Dever’s saloon is dynamited in downtown Greenwood. The bombing is attributed to members of the Temperance Movement.

Greenwood Presbyterian Church erects its present brick structure at the corner of Brewer and Main Streets.

Beech Park, the town’s first park, is built. It is located just south of Beech Park Drive and only boasted two amusements:  a “Chinese Puzzle” and prairie dogs.  Never popular, the park was dismantled within four years of its opening.


The Greenwood Screen Door Company is organized.  After purchasing the J.T. Grubb and Sons planing mill, owners Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Carson form the Greenwood Lumber Company as a division of the Greenwood Screen Door Company.


James T. Polk organizes Greenwood’s first library. It is discontinued in 1896.

Greenwood gets its first telephone exchange.

Bodies buried in the Presbyterian and Baptist cemeteries are exhumed and moved to the Greenwood Cemetery.


The second banking institution in Greenwood’s history, the bank opened around 1890.

Douglas Dahlins begins publishing Greenwood’s second newspaper, the Era.

The Graphic moves to Ingalls, Indiana.

The Greenwood Banking Company is organized with ten shareholders, including James T. Polk, John A. Polk, Grafton Johnson, and Grafton Peek.


The Greenwood Era changes its name to the Greenwood News.

Mount Pleasant Christian Church adds an annex.

Greenwood Sanitarium is destroyed by fire.  Although the hotel is not rebuilt, mineral water continues to be bottled and sold.


Another two-room addition is occurs at the Greenwood School.

The Dwiggins and Starbuck Bank fails in the Panic of 1893.


The Greenwood Mineral Water Association is formed.  Mineral water is found at a depth of 1,700 feet and a sanitarium is established.


W.J. Spruce purchases The Graphic.


Sumner Rose begins publishing Greenwood’s first newspaper, The Graphic.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church moves into a new brick building at the corner of Brewer and Broadway Streets.  The structure cost $7,000 while the property was purchased at a cost of $300. A two-room addition is built on the north side of the Greenwood School.

The Greenwood Cemetery is incorporated by a group of thirty-four town residents.  The cemetery association purchases an initial site containing twelve acres and seven rods of land.

After purchasing its cans from eastern factories since its founding, the J.T. Polk Company begins manufacturing its own cans at a rate of 10,000 cans a day.


The J.T. Polk Company moves its operations into a new four-story brick factory.  The following year, the company erects a boarding house for employees.


Mount Pleasant Christian Church is founded in White River Township


The J.T. Polk Company opens its first factory, a building measuring 45 x 288 feet.


A Masonic lodge is formed in Greenwood.


Rocklane Christian Church erects its second building on the same site as the original structure.


James T. Polk and wife, Laura, begin the J.T. Polk (Canning) Company in the kitchen of their home in Greenwood.  Marketed under the name “Polk’s Best,” the J.T. Polk Company eventually becomes the largest cannery west of Baltimore and the town’s biggest employer.


A new two-story, four-room, brick school opens in Greenwood. The new building stands on the site of the building destroyed by fire in 1865.

Greenwood Christian Church moves into a new brick structure at the corner of Pearl and Smart Streets. The new building cost $2,400.


Honey Creek United Brethren Church moves into a new building.


Greenwood is incorporated as a town.

A “substantial brick school” is erected on the present site of the Central School in Greenwood.  The building measured 40 x 60 feet, and contained four classrooms. This building was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1865 and school was then held in an old house on East Main Street.

Mrs. Elizabeth Stagg McGuire is appointed the first postmistress of Greenwood.  She serves until 1869.


G. Searle’s iron foundry closes.


The first banking institution in Greenwood is opened by Grafton Johnson.

Greenwood Baptist Church moves to its present site on the south side of Main Street, one block east of Madison Avenue.

Greenwood Christian Church is organized and begins meeting in a frame building located at the corner of Broadway and Meridian Streets that had previously served as the village schoolhouse. The church traces its roots to an earlier “society” that began meeting in a building on the George Shortridge farm in 1838. This group disbanded in the 1840s, however, because many of its members had moved from the neighborhood.


The Olive Branch United Brethren Church is organized and moves into its first building on the Olive Branch Road, just south of Smith’s Valley, the next year.

The Greenwood Odd Fellows Lodge is organized.  It is the first fraternal organization to be formed in Greenwood.


The Greenwood Steam Flour Mill is erected by Henderson and Smith.  The mill eventually serves customers in Johnson, Marion, and Morgan Counties.  Under one owner or another, the mill operates through the turn of the century before being destroyed by fire in the early twentieth century, at which point the owners choose not to rebuild and close the business


Greenwood Presbyterian Church moves into its new building, a frame structure measuring 40 x 60 feet located at the corner of Main and Brewer.


Greenwood (United) Methodist Church is appointed head of the local circuit.  Organized in 1849, the congregation erects a frame building at the corner of Pearl and Meridian Streets.

G. Searle establishes an iron foundry on Foundry Street (now Pearl).


Rocklane Christian Church dedicates its first building.


Mt. Auburn (United) Methodist Church moves into a new building located one-half mile north of Stone’s Crossing at the southeast corner of the Mount Auburn cemetery.

James W. Parker sells his store to Grafton Johnson, Sr., who enlarges the store.  Johnson is soon joined by his nephew Grafton Peek, who later becomes one of Greenwood’s leading merchants.


Rev. P.S. Cleland of Greenwood Presbyterian Church lays out a plot of twenty-six lots in what is now downtown Greenwood.  This was followed by J.J. Dungan, who laid out another twenty-four plots, and Dr. William H. Wishard, who laid out an additional six plots later that year.  This was followed by John B. Dobbins, who laid out a final thirty-one plots in 1851. These eighty-seven plots constituted the original site of the town of Greenwood.

The Madison and Indianapolis Railroad is completed, and the first train west of the Allegheny Mountains travels through Greenwood in October.


The Rocklane Christian Church is organized.

The town’s first general store is opened by James W. Parker. The small frame building is located at the corner of what is now Madison Avenue and Main Street.  Parker is credited with being the first merchant in Greenwood.


Members of the Honey Creek United Brethren Church erect the first permanent structure.


Built on a one-acre site donated by Josiah Bass, the Greenwood Baptist Church erects its first building.


Dr. Benjamin Noble, father of George T. Noble and Noah Noble (Indiana’s fifth governor), moves to Greenwood.

Dr. Noble, a native of Virginia, is the first physician to settle in Greenwood.  He later is joined by a partner, Dr. William H. Wishard.  Dr. Wishard’s son, Dr. William N. Wishard, is the “father” of  Indianapolis’ City Hospital (now Wishard Memorial Hospital).


Greenwood Baptist Church is organized.  The first meetings are held in a grove on the Josiah Bass farm.


Mt. Auburn (United) Methodist Church is organized as a class meeting in the home of William Harrell.  The following year church members erect the first building—known as the “Old Mud School House”—which serves as both a church and a school.

Honey Creek United Brethren Church is established in White River Township, southwest of Greenwood.


The town of Greenfield officially changes its name to Greenwood in order to eliminate confusion with the nearby town of Greenfield in Hancock County.


Greenwood Presbyterian Church moves into its second building.  A frame structure, it measures 40 x 50 feet.  The east end of the building continues to house a school.


The first post office is established in the George T. Noble Inn, located at what is now the corner of Madison Avenue and Fry Road.  The first postmaster is James Smock, who also serves as the first justice of the peace.

John Wilson, owner of one of the community’s earliest saw mills, begins manufacturing coffins. Over time the family establishes a coffin factory and an undertaking business—the J.C. Wilson Funeral Homes—after relocating to Acton.


Greenwood Presbyterian Church erects its first building—a log structure measuring 16 x 20 feet. The first church to be built in Johnson County, the building also serves as a school for the next six years.


Smocktown changes its name to Greenfield.

Greenwood Presbyterian Church is founded by members of the extended Smock family; the church first meets in the cabin of John B. Smock.

Johnson County is formed and named in honor of Judge John Johnson, one of the first justices of the state Supreme Court.


James Smock and family join his brothers in the settlement now known as “Smock’s Settlement” or “Smocktown.”

The Madison State Road opens, linking Madison, Indiana to Indianapolis.


Brothers John B. and Isaac Smock of Mercer County, Kentucky, and their families settle near the Madison Road near the Marion-Johnson County line.