Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood on old US 40

In 1870, When Irvington was platted, it was outside the Indianapolis city limits. It was Indianapolis’s first suburb, a quiet town of winding streets bisected by the National Road, known as Washington Street locally.

Imagery ©2021 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data ©2021 Google.

Today, Irvington is a city neighborhood and also the largest historic preservation district in Indianapolis. Its curved streets and older homes are quite lovely. My wife and I are charmed enough by it that we’ve strongly considered moving to this neighborhood.

As I bicycled through on my Ride Across Indiana, I made some photographs of Irvington from Washington Street. This was US 40 and the National Road in its day, but today it’s just a major city thoroughfare. Traffic was heavy and lanes are narrow, so I rode on the sidewalks.

You’ll find a number of apartment buildings on Washington Street, including this one with a Chicago-style central courtyard.

Irvington apartment house

The Irvington United Methodist Church is in many ways Irvington’s centerpiece. It’s about a half block north of Washington Street but is well visible from the street. It was originally the home of Jacob Dorsey Thomas, a professor at Butler University, which was located in Irvington from 1875 to 1928. It was then home of Thomas Carr Howe, then University President. He sold the home in 1924 to the Methodist church, which expanded it greatly in making it into a church.

Irvington on old US 40

Washington Street in the center of Irvington is lined with small businesses.

Irvington on old US 40

This building was originally a freemason’s lodge, but today it houses various businesses.

Irvington on old US 40

Just down the street is the Irving Theater, built in 1913. It was a first-run theater until about 1969, when it became an adult theater. By the early 1980s it had become a second-run theater. In the late 1980s a group of Irvington businessmen bought it and turned it into a theater showing foreign and art films. I saw a film here in about 1989. It closed in 1994 and remained that way until 2008 and is now primarily a live entertainment venue.

Irvington on old US 40

After you pass out of Irvington, the neighborhood becomes rather sketchy. I kept riding and didn’t stop for photographs. I was delighted to find that it’s slightly downhill all the way to Downtown.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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The purplest house ever

The purplest house ever
Canon PowerShot S95

My wife and I have been walking neighborhoods all over central Indiana for the last few years looking for one that gives us the most of what we want in a home and its surroundings, with prices we are willing to pay.

We’ve recently visited the Irvington neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Eastside a couple times, and we think this just might be the next place we call home. We’re at least a year away from being ready to move, though.

When Irvington was planned in 1870, it was as a town — Indianapolis didn’t extend this far east yet. Indianapolis annexed Irvington in 1905. The National Road, known locally as Washington Street, bisects it; a small business district with shops and restaurants lines this main street. To the north and south lie a network of narrow streets, many of them curved, a few of them still paved in brick. Homes are older, built between 1870 and about 1960.

This extremely purple house is for sale. I checked it out on Zillow — it’s lovely inside. But zomg, the purple. Now, purple happens to be my favorite color. What I’ve learned, however, is that a little purple goes a long way. At my last house, I used purple as an accent color in my kitchen, but used a particular complimentary shade of green much more. Purple mostly showed up in my kitchen in utensils, small appliances, and bakeware. I still have a complete set of purple Pyrex.

My Canon S95 got the color exactly right in this shot. Purple has not historically been its strong suit. It usually renders it as a purplish blue.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: The purplest house ever

A little purple goes a long way.