- The Indianapolis Propylaeum
- Monon Trail
- Morris-Butler House
- The Harrison Center
The neighborhood of Old Northside has a history of restoring old things to new life, and it continues the tradition into the future. The community has adopted a plan for preserving the high-style Victorian-era architecture and history. Its streets are lined with impressive brick and wood frame Italianate and Queen Anne mansions, most built between 1870 and 1900.
During the late nineteenth century, a home in what was then the north side of the city was a mark of success and affluence. The neighborhood was home to the principal leaders of Indianapolis social, political, commercial, and industrial life, as well as the location of leading religious and educational institutions. Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, and Ovid Butler, the founder of Butler University, both lived in this neighborhood, and their historic homes are open to the public.
After 1900 architectural tastes changed, and families built homes further north in Indianapolis. The migration was significant enough to designate the area as the “Old” Northside, which began a period of slow decline in the years following World War I. Over time, some homes were demolished and others fell into disrepair.
Then, in the late 1960s residents began restoring remaining buildings of architectural significance, and in 1978 the Old Northside received historic designation. Since then, most of the historic buildings have been renovated, making the neighborhood one of the premier historic districts in the Midwest.
Just as residents renewed the physical structures of the neighborhood, the Old Northside Foundation took abandoned landscapes and transformed them into public community spaces. Along with Shawn Grove Park, a children’s park with play equipment, there are two other parks that the residents of the Old Northside enjoy.
Great Oak Commons is a park created from several empty lots and is modeled after a Victorian walking park. It features a central fountain, gas lighting, a gazebo, and a sensory garden filled with fragrant perennial flowers. The Frank and Judy O’Bannon Soccer Park, now maintained by Indy Parks, was reclaimed from abandoned space near the Monon trail and is used by several children’s summer soccer leagues.