The Plainfield neighborhood is west-southwest of Indianapolis, and is roughly bounded by US 40 in the north, 6 Points Road on the east, I-70 in the south, and Moon Road on the west.

Throughout the first century or more of Plainfield’s history the town was very insular.  The local churches, of which there are many, have been important contributors to culture as well as belief.  Only in the last few decades has Plainfield become a growing bedroom community for Indianapolis.  This change has caused residents to learn new ways to deal with the problems inherent in growth, including fear of outsiders and stress on infrastructure and services.

In 1822 Jeremiah Hadley purchased land west of Indianapolis in what would become the town of Plainfield. [1]
Seven years later the Plainfield Christian Church was organized by 17 men and women who constructed a log building in which to worship. [2]
It was 1832 before Elias Hadley and Levi Jessup officially platted the town of Plainfield, its name reflecting the “plain” dress and manner of much of its population, many of whom were members of the Friends church.  They laid out 5 districts with 64 lots. [3]
In 1839 the town incorporated, but later gave up the incorporation.

The early years of Plainfield’s development show how closely connected are the development of communities and their churches.  A group of interested parties met in 1836 to organize the Plainfield United Methodist Church. The church held Plainfield’s first Sunday School in 1844. [5]
  In 1849 the Conservative Friends built a meeting house in Plainfield and two years later, in 1851, Friends from North Carolina constructed a meeting house at Sugar Grove, just south of town.  Their meeting had both conservative and progressive members. [6]
  Four families organized the First Baptist Church in 1858 and that same year the Western Yearly Meeting organized and completed a brick meeting house on 12 acres along Main Street. [7]
In 1861, 227 Plainfield children attended schools of the Friends Monthly Meeting and only 48 students attended non-Friends schools in town. [8]

A local paper started in 1860 and in 1867 both the House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders (now the Indiana Boys School) and a public grade school were established. [9]

Local Friends opened the town’s first library at the Plainfield Meeting House and the Plainfield Quarterly Meeting established the first high school, Central Academy, which initially held classes at the town hall before constructing a building on North Vine Street in 1897. By 1885 there were 300 students in indiana elementary schools, but the first graduating high school class in 1900 consisted of only 3 three students. [10]

In 1904 Plainfield incorporated for the second and final time. [11]
By 1910 the town’s population has reached 1,303. [12]
In 1912 residents successfully negotiated a Carnegie library grant of $9,000 to be used toward a new building and on the condition that the town would contribute $900 annually to the library. [13]
The education-conscious residents of Plainfield did not let their interest in reading  be limited by the location of the new library building, however.  In 1916 they established the Plainfield Auto Book Wagon which drove into neighborhoods to lend books.  More than 7,000 books were circulated from the Auto Book Wagon in the first year that it was established. [14]
In 1926 Plainfield’s population reached 3,134. [15]

The decades culminating in the 1950s saw much change in Plainfield.  In 1951 the general offices of Public Service Indiana (PSI) located there.  That same year the first services were held at the new Maple Grove Baptist Church’s cinderblock building.  In 1953 St. Susanna Catholic Church laid the cornerstone for their building.  Their membership was 55 families that year.  Also in 1953 St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission started in a meeting at the public library.  In 1954 the township school system reorganized under a five-member school board of Guilford Township School Corporation, the Van Buren Grade School was established and the Plainfield Christian Church celebrated its 125th anniversary.  The following year the church held their first service at a new building and counted 1,045 persons as members. [16]
By the end of the decade the community had constructed a new high school and three more new churches had begun. [17]

In the 1960s even more churches opened their doors in the small town.  Calvary Baptist held its first meeting in May 1960, Hope Presbyterian had 66 charter members and hired its first full-time minister.  Plainfield Bible Church dedicated a new church building and auditorium. [18]

Not surprisingly, church building was accompanied by home building in the area.  In 1961 the Indianapolis Times noted that there was a “small flow” of young families and new home building on the southeast side of town.  Most of these homes were in the $16,000-$18,000 range.  The article also counted 15 churches in town “with more on the way.” [19]
By mid-decade both Bethel A.M.E., St. Mark’s Episcopal and Calvary Baptist churches had dedicated new buildings.  Plainfield schools numbered 6, including 4 grades schools, and counted 2,173 students and 97 teacher. [20]
That year, the Indianapolis Times claimed that Plainfield was now thought of “only as a bedroom community” for Indianapolis, although residents probably protested that designatio. [21]

As Plainfield entered the 1970s its population stood at 8,211. [22]
By 1975 it had increased to 9,015. [23]
  In 1976, the small town was forced to acknowledge the xenophobic tendencies of some of its residents when the Muslim Student Association acquired 124 acres of land with plans to construct the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) there. Residents claimed that the construction of the campus violated a residential zoning ordinance and 960 people signed a petition protesting the proposed center; eventually they took their protests to the circuit court which denied their petition.  While the case was being appealed the protests took on a racist cast when a sign at the entrance to the property owned by the Muslim Student Association was knocked down and painted with the letters “KKK.” After the appeal was denied, construction began on the center in 1980 and was completed in 1983.  Now the ISNA serves Orthodox immigrant Muslims as a grassroots organization focusing on developing Muslim identity and supporting North American Muslim communities. [25]

By 1980 Plainfield had hired a Town Manager to advice the Town Board on technical matters involving the now 9,191 residents of the town. [26]
Although the actual population of the town had not grown at a great rate since 1970 townspeople continued to fear growth, in part because they valued their small town atmosphere and in part because of legitimate concerns over sewer capacity. [27]

In the 1990s Plainfield’s growth has accelerated. [28]
The census counted its population at 15,350, representing a 67 percent growth since 1980.  Twenty-nine houses of worship are listed in the Plainfield area currently. [29]
The town’s largest employer is Cinergy/PSI with 1,000 employees in 1996. [30]
Reflecting the town’s status as a bedroom community for Indianapolis, there are approximately 400 rental units in Plainfield. [31]
In 1997 the Greater Plainfield Chamber of Commerce presented a 12-month “Strategic Plan,” calling for a Main Street Revitalization program, active support of the Plainfield Housing Committee, promotion of commercial and industrial development, and a plan to address quality of life issues with regard to the Indianapolis International Airport. [32]

In 1998 Plainfield is addressing growth and creating a new view of itself as a viable community peopled by residents who mostly work elsewhere but who have made a monetary and philosophical investment in their town.  They pay local taxes, send their children to Plainfield schools, and attend local houses of worship in significant numbers.


  Beryl Hadley Jessup, “Some Highlights in the History of Plainfield,” (1965), 1.


  Margaret Moore Post, “Our Town Yesterday,” (n.d.), 85.


  Beryl Hadley Jessup, “Some Highlights,” 1.




  Post, “Our Town Yesterday,” 92.


  Ibid., 87.


  Ibid.,  87, 95.


  John R. McDowell, “The History of Hendricks County, 1914-1976,” (1976), 30.


  Ibid., 30; Jessup, “Some Highlights,” 4-8.


McDowell, “History of Hendricks County,” 30.


  Jessup, “Some Highlights,” 1.




Jessup, “Some Highlights,” 6-7; McDowell, “History of Hendricks County,” 30.


McDowell, “History of Hendricks County,” 31.


 Ibid., 28.


  McDowell, “History of Hendricks County”; Jessup, “Some Highlights”; Post, “Our Town Yesterday.”


Jessup, “Some Highlights”; Post, “Our Town Yesterday.”


  Post, “Our Town Yesterday,” 97-98.


 Indianapolis Times, August 10, 1961.


  Jessup, “Some Highlights,” 6; Post, “Our Town Yesterday,” 91-100.


 Indianapolis Times, March 14, 1965.


“Plainfield, Indiana,” A Community Resume,” by Cinergy/PSI.


McDowell, “History of Hendricks County,” 28.


  Post, “Our Town Yesterday,” 102.


  William D. Dalton, “Islamic Society of North America,” in David J. Bodenhamer & Robert G. Barrows, eds., Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 834.


  Indianapolis News, December 22, 1977.


  June 22, 1998 interview with Bill Brooks, former editor of Plainfield newspaper.


  U.S. Census, 1990.


  National Directory of Churches, Synagogues and Other Houses of Worship.


“Community Resume.”




  “1998 Strategic Plan.”


The Greater Plainfield Chamber of Commerce implements its 12-month “Strategic Plan,” calling for a Main Street Revitalization program, an “Internal Workings” program for Chamber members, active support of the Plainfield Housing Committee, direct commercial and industrial development in the “greater Plainfield Community,” devise a plan to address quality of life issues re the Indianapolis International Airport, and continue to sponsor the Christmas lights in the town, sell the Chamber’s real estate and move to new office space, and redefine the membership of the Board of Directors.


A 36-member committee distributes surveys to Plainfield residents.  The survey “sought to find the most important [community] values” of residents.  2,318 surveys were returned of the 20,000 distributed.  Community members contributed $3,000 for the survey.


Plainfield population, 15,350.

Township population, 19,550.


Plainfield Christian Church membership is 1,247.

Membership of Plainfield United Methodist Church is 1,100.

Membership of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is 45-50 families. Rector is Rev. Jacqueline Means, the first woman ordained priest in the Episcopal Church of America. The church has an Education Center at Center and Krewson Streets.

First service held at newly constructed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Location is at Reeves Rd. and Indiana 267.


Parishioners of St. Susanna Catholic Church burn the mortgage.   There are more than 80 pupils at St. Susanna School.


Work on Phase I of Islamic Center of North America completed.  It consists of a mosque and library.  Capacity of mosque is 500 with possibility to increase to 1,500.  Building is 40,444-sq. ft. and it has 3 floors.


Plainfield population, 9,191.

Township population, 17,052.


Membership of St. Susanna Catholic Church is 430.

960 people sign a petition against the proposed Islamic Center, stating that the plans violated a residential zoning ordinance. While the appeal is pending in the circuit court of appeals a sign at the entrance to the property is painted with the letters “KKK.” The appeal is denied.


Plainfield hires a Town Manager to advise the town board on technical matters.


New Calvary Baptist Church building is occupied.

Muslim Student Association (MSA) acquires 124 acres of land in Plainfield to construct the Islamic Center of North America.


Construction begins on new building for Calvary Baptist Church.

Population, 9,015.


Indiana Youth Center opens as a minimum security facility for first-time offenders.

First Mass held at new church of St. Susanna parish on Mother’s Day. Dedication 9/19/71.


First service held at 620 N. Carr Rd., home of First Assembly of God.

Plainfield population, 8,211, Township population, 14,439.


St. Susanna parish is debt free and has saved $13,000 toward a new church building.


Bethel A.M.E. has first service in New Church.


St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission building dedicated in a former Christian Church building.  Both St. Mark’s and the Christian church worship in the building until the Christian Church edifice is completed.


Calvary Baptist Church moves to 201 N. Vine Street after having services in members’ homes for many years.


School Corporation changes name to Plainfield Community School Corporation.

Hope Presbyterian Church building completed.

Maple Grove Baptist Church has made additions to its building between 1956 and 1963 that have added 2,100 sq. ft.

Brentwood Grade School established.

New Bethel A.M.E. church is constructed at Lincoln and Vine streets.


Plainfield Bible Church started by 5 families meeting in homes.

Plainfield Christian Church sets aside $4,800 to help establish the Avon Christian Church.


Population is nearly 5,500.

First meeting of Calvary Baptist church held.

Rev. C. Luther Bostrum becomes first full-time minister of Hope Presbyterian.


First organizational meeting of Hope Presbyterian Church.  First services held at town library then at American Legion Hall.


Financial statement for December 31, 1958 shows St. Susanna Parish has debt of $189,032.00.

St. Luke Lutheran Church dedicated at 550 St. Luke Drive.

A new facility is dedicated by Plainfield United Methodist Church.


New High School constructed.

Plainfield Baptist Church buys building of Methodist congregation at 301 S. Center St.


Plainfield Baptist Church established by Rev. L. Whitlock and others.

Lutheran congregation formed in meetings held at Plainfield Public Library.

July. Twelve charter members of St. Luke Lutheran Church buy 17 acres of land, with 5 acres for the church and the remaining acreage to be resold for residences. Proceeds of sale of lots helped pay for church building


First meeting of Plainfield Christian Church held at new church building.

Plainfield Christian Church has 1,045 members.


Township schools system reorganizes under a five-member school board of Guilford Township School Corporation.

Van Buren Grade School established.

Plainfield Christian Church celebrates 125th anniversary.


Father John Rirdy appointed as founding pastor of St. Susanna Parish.

Cornerstone laid for St. Susanna Catholic Church. Membership, 55 families.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission started in a meeting at the library.


Maple Grove Baptist Church holds organizational meeting in a garage.

First services of Maple Grove Baptist Church held in a new cinder block building.

General Offices of Public Service Indiana (PSI) located in Plainfield.


National Road is turned into a four-lane highway.


Plainfield High School is admitted to North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.


Population = 3,134.


National Road is paved through Plainfield.


Plainfield’s Auto Book Wagon established.   7,482 books circulated first year.


Plainfield acquires water works for $1,800.


Carnegie Library dedicated on South Center St. Carnegie gave $9,000 toward new building provided the town would contrbute $900 annually.


Plainfield population is 1,303.


West Elementary Grade Building is constructed as the high school, later used as one of the first junior highs in the state.


Plainfield incorporated for second time.


House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders’ name is changed to The  Indiana Boys Schools.


First public library opened at North East St & East Main.


Graduating class of 3 at Plainfield High School.


First Plainfield high school built on North Vine St.


Church building dedicated by Methodist Church.


300 students in grade school.


Plainfield Quarterly Meeting establishes Central Academy with first classes being held in town hall.


First Baptist Church erects a large building at Krewson & N. Vine Streets.


Library established at Plainfield Meeting House.


The Boys School is established in Plainfield as the House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders.

Public grade school built on North East St.


Plainfield Christian Church erects a brick structure.


Local paper starts.


First Baptist Church organized by 4 families.

Western Yearly Meeting organizes and completes a brick meeting house on 12 acres on Main Street.


Quakers from North Carolina erect a meeting house at Sugar Grove, south of Plainfield.  The meeting has both conservative and progressive members.


Conservative Friends build a meetinghouse in Plainfield.


First Sunday School held at Plainfield United Methodist Church.


A stage carrying former President Martin Van Buren is purposely tipped over in the mud as a protest near what came to be know as Van Buren’s elm.


Plainfield incorporates.  (This incorporation later given up).


Organizational meeting of the Plainfield United Methodist Church held.


Elias Hadley and Levi Jessup plat town of Plainfield with 64 lots laid out in 5 districts.


Plainfield Christian Church is organized by 17 men and women.  Log church building constructed.


Jeremiah Hadley purchases land in Plainfield area.