Irvington

Irvington is an area on the East side of Indianapolis, Indiana. The first settler was John Wilson who established an inn and tavern in 1821. Another early settler was Dr. Levi Ritter. John Ellenberger arrived by covered wagon in 1853 and established a farm. In 1870, Sylvester Johnson and Jacob Julian proposed that a town be established. Irvington was recognized as a town in 1873. The name was chosen because the area along Pleasant Run was reminiscent of Washington Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

The boundaries of Irvington are not defined. For the purpose of this page, Irvington is that part of Indianapolis that is bounded by Emerson Avenue on the West, Arlington Avenue on the East, Brookville Road on the South, and Tenth Street on the North. The following map encompasses most the area described.

NOTE: This article and the photos date from 1998.

Map of historic Irvington.
Map of Historic Irvington
Here is a scene along Pleasant Run, just West of Ritter Avenue. See #2 on map.
Pleasant Run

A bust of Washington Irving is located on the grounds of the George W. Julian elementary school, IPS #57. This school was established in 1902.

There is only one older building in use by the Indianapolis Public School system.

See #1 on the map.

Washington Irving bust

The Ellenberger farm house was located on the Northwest corner of Ritter Avenue and Pleasant Run Parkway. The house is now gone. See #3 on the map.

Site of Ellenberger farm house

The Ellenberger farm is now Ellenberger park. See #4 on the map.

Ellenberger Park

The Kingsbury farm was also located in Irvington. The Kingsbury farmhouse is still in use at 348 N. Layman. At the southwest corner of Layman and Michigan, #5 on the map.

Kingsbury Farm House

Mrs. Kingsbury came to this house as a bride at age 19. She was still living in this house in her 90’s during the early 1950’s. The street is an inviting, shady, brick street, today.

Layman Avenue, looking south

Below are the front steps of the Kingsbury house. The author and his family lived in an upstairs apartment in 1951 and 1952.

Kingsbury Farm House

The street was named for James T. Layman, who was an Irvington resident and had a home on South Audubon Road. One of Mrs. Kingsbury’s sons was named Layman, was he named for the street or the man?

For many years, the business district of Irvington (approximately from Whittier Place to Audubon Road along Washington Street) was a busy and vibrant place. Although still a business area, many businesses have moved to the malls. Below is looking Northeast along Washington Street from Ritter Avenue.

Washington Street looking NE from Ritter
Below is a view looking Southwest along Washington Street from Audubon Road.

These pictures were made from the locations marked #6 and #7 on the map above.

Washington Street, looking SW from Audubon

Although the business district of Irvington is not what it once was, most of the residences have been improved. Many houses have been renovated and their lots are more attractively landscaped than they had been. Here is one such home. Sixty years ago this house was rather plain and the yard was only grass and a few bushes.

An example of an improved home

Three protestant churches in Irvington are Methodist, Presbyterian, and Downey Avenue Christian. These are shown, respectively, as #8, #9, and #17 on the map above.

Methodist Church, North entrance
Presbyterian Church
Downey Avenue Christian Church

George W. Julian lived on the Southeast corner of Julian Avenue and Audubon Road. School #57 was named for Mr. Julian. The house is located at #10 on the map.

George W. Julian House

Another well-known residence is the Stevenson house on University Avenue, it is #14 on the map. The infamous Stevenson had been the Grand Dragon of the Indiana KKK in 1925 and was sent to prison for the murder of an Irvington woman.

Stevenson House

The Benton House had been the residence of Butler’s President. It is now the headquarters of the Irvington Historical Society. It may be found at #15 on the map.

Benton House

At one time, Irvington had a Pennsylvania Railroad Depot on South Audubon Road adjacent to the Julian property. The depot was razed many years ago and now there are no railroad tracks. The depot’s location is #11 on the map.

Site of Pennsylvania Railroad Station

Just a block South of the depot site is the South Audubon Circle it is #12 on the map. Note the well-kept appearance of this place and a second bust of Washington Irving.

Audubon Road, South Circle

A block East of the South Circle is the Children’s Guardian Home. This institution has been a haven for children at risk for many years. These children are educated in Indianapolis Public Schools in Irvington. It is located at #13 on the map.

Children's Guardian Home

Another famous landmark in Irvington is the Missions Building which had been the headquarters of the Disciples of Christ denomination. The headquarters has now been moved to a downtown location in Indianapolis and plans are underway to turn this building into Senior Citizen Apartments. The author of this web page met his wife while both worked in this building and were married in its chapel over 50 years ago. The location is marked as #17 on the map.

Missions Building

Another interesting location, which is outside the boundaries of the map, but still identified with Irvington is Thomas Carr Howe High School, but is not now in operation. It is located on Julian Avenue, West of Emerson Avenue. The photo below was taken from Pleasant Run Parkway.

Thomas Carr Howe High School

The original plant of the Lindner Brothers Ice Cream Company was located on the Southeast corner of Catherwood and Washington streets. Below is the old building, it is no longer in use.

Linder Brothers Ice Cream Plant and Store

Just East of the Lindner building was a small group of businesses, including a grocery and feed store. Many farm families did their shopping in this area when they came to “town.”

Site of former grocery and feed stores

 I hope you have enjoyed visiting Irvington via this web page. The author enjoyed living in Irvington and attended both school #57, class of 1939, and Howe High school, class of 1943.

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