Mars Hill was founded in 1911 with high hopes and an ambitious scheme. A group of Indianapolis businessmen planned to make the picturesque farming community a new industrial suburb with factories and 50,000 residents. They formed the Greater Indianapolis Industrial Association and purchased several farms, including a large horse farm owned by Sterling Holt. Reportedly the new town took its name from a hill dubbed “Marr’s” for a 19th-century settler.
To finance construction of the new city, the group proposed to sell 8,000 lots to the public. Proceeds were to be used to move out-of-state factories to the new site and pay for city services. At a mass meeting in February 1911, civic-minded citizens were urged to invest in the future and buy lots for $400 each. Within a few months, however, the association had not sold the required number of lots and the scheme failed. The group reorganized as a stockholding company in 1912 and met with some success, though not enough to implement original plans.
In the years that followed, some small factories moved to Mars Hill, but the promised city did not develop. The area was never incorporated and roads were not paved, nor were sewers or water provided. Since there were no building codes, residents built whatever they could afford, including tar-paper shacks and half-houses (basement dwellings). Mars Hill enjoyed a small building boom during World War II, when many found work at the nearby Allison plant. Problems continued to plague the area in the 1950s and 1960s. With the area’s inclusion into the city under Unigov, Indianapolis officials were forced to deal with Mars Hills’ sewage, trash, abandoned buildings, and unpaved roads. Despite efforts to solve these problems, Mars Hill remains a community in need of improved infrastructure and services.
Mars Hill is the only area in Decatur Township that shows signs of suburban revitalization. It is primarily an established single-family residential neighborhood with a few vacant lots.
There are twenty-two churches in Mars Hill area.
Mars Hill residents are angry with Indianapolis politicians who promised sewer and street improvements eleven years ago and have not delivered.
Local citizens are distrustful of the Summer Program for Disadvantaged Youth (SPDY), which they say is an “outsider’s” program. SPDY contends the community is worried the program is the first step toward busing.
Mars Hill Baptist church has 600 members.
Mars Hill-Drexel Gardens Multiservice Center forms in January.
Mars Hill Elementary School is demolished.
Community leaders in Mars Hill area are frustrated with citizens who continue to throw their trash into ditches rather than place it out for pick-up.
Mars Hill hotel has been the site of 2 arson fires. Judge orders its demolition.
Mars Hill-Drexel Gardens Improvement Association seeks city help to clean up Neeld Ditch. City says the responsibility is the property owners. Mayor Lugar has polluted ditches in Mars Hill declared emergencies so the city crews are cleaning them up. A $5 million sewage plan is approved. Following Unigov Indianapolis makes some attempts to offer city services, pave roads, and force cleanup in the Mars Hill area. Problems in these areas continue, however, and the area remains in need of infrastructure improvements and services.
New St. Ann’s Catholic Church is constructed. It will seat 450. Located on Holt Road.
Mars Hill-Drexel Gardens Improvement Association will accept nominations at a meeting of residents for the 15-member board. The group was spawned in the local “War on Poverty.”
Mars Hill hotel, built in 1919 is ordered to close four rooms that have “cages” for children in them. The Marion County Health department wants the hotel closed down as “unfit for human habitation.”
Mars Hill Baptist Church is founded with six members.
Raw sewage and garbage fill a stream that runs behind homes in Mars Hill. Emergency maintenance is being performed on the WWI-era sewer system and plans are in drawing stage for new system. New sewer system is being installed, causing its own set of problems for residents in closed streets, dry wells, and dust.
Maywood Manor, a 338-house low-income housing addition on Tibbs Avenue opens.
Marion County Plan Commission delays vote on Mars Hill rezoning request to allow construction of low-income housing. One concern is that schools will be overcrowded.
Mars Hill Church of the Nazarene hopes to move to its new building within 2 months. It is currently meeting in the basement.
Mars View Christian Church has 300 members.
Mars Hill Church of the Nazarene is organized.
Mars Hill Free Methodist Church is ready for dedication at First Avenue and Lafayette Boulevard.
Mars Hill Church of Christ at First Avenue and Gadsen Streets ready for dedication. Structure costs approximately $8000. The church has been meeting in the structure’s basement for 10 years.
Romanian Baptists dedicate their first building.
There is a small building boom in the Mars Hill area by workers at the nearby Allison plant, but there is still no city sewer or water services.
There are thirty-five members of the Mars View Christian Church.
St. Ann’s Catholic Church dedicates its first permanent building. Membership is 50 families. The church school expects 55 children in the fall.
Neighborhood population grows to 500 people because of war-time boom in production. Area is still being promoted by Greater Indianapolis Industrial Association.
St. Ann’s Catholic Church is organized.
Mars Hill has streetcar service to Indianapolis.
Has about 60 cottages and “cement” sidewalks.
A hotel block is under construction.
The Greater Indianapolis Industrial Association reorganizes as a stockholding company in a renewed attempt to sell lots in Mars Hill. Although somewhat successful, the necessary number of lots still did not sell and not enough money was raised to implement the original plans.
Mars Hill industrial suburb is founded by a group of Indianapolis businessmen calling themselves the Greater Indianapolis Industrial Association. Their plan is to make the farming community an industrial suburb that would rival Gary, Indiana. The group planned to sell 8,000 lots to raise the funds to move out-of-state factories to the site and to pay for city utilities. Lots were sold for $400 each.
Romanian Baptists establish a congregation with the assistance of a local Baptist pastor.
Hugh J. McGowan, president of the Indianapolis Traction Terminal Company purchases 75 lots in Mars Hill.
Town established by Abraham Miller.