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.
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.
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.
Washington Street in the center of Irvington is lined with small businesses.
This building was originally a freemason’s lodge, but today it houses various businesses.
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.
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.