The Meridian Park neighborhood is bounded by Pennsylvania St. and Washington Blvd. and by 30th and 34th Streets. The area was farmland until the turn of the century. Then a bridge over Fall Creek and the personal automobile made commuting downtown much easier. This suburban environment, distanced from the noise and smoke of downtown, quickly became desirable and supplanted Woodruff Place and Irvington as the most exclusive and fashionable neighborhoods of their day.
Automobile company executives, bankers, builders, politicians, and clerks saw Meridian Park as an ideal environment to raise a family. The houses, reflecting a change in taste, were designed for family living. Early 20th century architecture reflected the philosophy that a modern home should be more functional than formal. The small multiple parlors of the Victorian era house were replaced by spacious living rooms with large hearths.
In its description of Indianapolis, the 1919 edition of Encyclopedia America described neighborhoods in the city as follows:
“The finest residence streets are Delaware, Meridian, Washington Boulevard, Maple Road and Pennsylvania. Several other residence districts are particularly well designed and cared for, such as Woodruff Place—a residence park, with esplanades, fountains, statues, etc.—which has a town government of its own, though completely surrounded by the city; Morton Place, Meridian Heights and Irvington.”
The neighborhood contains a noteworthy collection of American Four-Square and Arts and Crafts architecture. Even the Tudor and Colonial Revival style homes show the influence of the Craftsman movement. Every building reflects the use of natural materials such as brick, stucco, and tile as well as emphasizes the visible structural elements such as beams and large overhangs.
In the early 1960s, pioneer families experienced the “empty-nest” and moved out of the neighborhood. The building of the I-65 entry ramp on 30th Street displaced many families who welcomed an opportunity to move to beautiful homes not far from their old neighborhood.
Today, Meridian Park is a mixture of life-long residents and relative newcomers. Many were first drawn to the fine old homes. Who could resist the romance of homes with Rookwood tile fireplaces, stained glass and leaded windows, hardwood floors and cabinetry, sleeping porches and welcoming front porches?
And the people are the reason we’ve stayed. Adopting an older home in a city neighborhood takes an open mind and an interest in community. The eclectic and spirited mix of residents accepts the challenges and rewards of maintaining a strong community. In 1988, residents undertook a detailed documentation of the area’s history and architecture. As a result, Meridian Park is now on the National Register of Historic Neighborhoods. An exploratory process has begun recently for local designation.