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North Meridian Street: Living Indianapolis History

North Meridian Street in Indianapolis, Indiana is a straight stretch of living history lined with mansions dating back to the early twentieth-century. Meridian Street takes its name from the basic meaning of the word meridian–the half of such circle divided between two poles: as it divides the Circle City in half. However, meridian’s alternate definition seems just as fitting–a period of highest development.

And North Meridian Street surely is representative of a high point in the developmental history of the city. As Indianapolis business boomed in the 1920s, North Meridian Street began to transform into a neighborhood for Indianapolis society’s most wealthy. Socially elite Indianapolis people spent thousands of dollars erecting monuments to their fortune. Simply driving through this strip reveals a rich sense of Indianapolis history.

 

From Tudor revival to Jacobean to colonial revival to Neo-classical to prairie style, the houses lining this upscale strip offer a crash course in American architecture from the roaring twenties on. The style of many of these houses reveals the sense of modernism that permeates Indianapolis art.

The street is on the National Register of Historic Places, leading its residents to focus on the preservation of this historic neighborhood. After the Meridian Street Preservation Act was passed in 1971, any landowners in the North Meridian Street Historic District must go through the proper channels to acquire permission to alter the use of the land that their property rests on. The Meridian Street Preservation Commission monitors and approves any changes within the neighborhood.

The Meridian Street Foundation is a neighborhood volunteer group that is dedicated to supporting its residents as they encounter the preservation process.  They assist each other in the arduous paperwork that accompanies living in one of these historic mansions.

In addition the group organizes beautification projects throughout the neighborhood to keep their historic landmark looking fresh. In the past they have planted Spring bulbs and trees, and annually they are in charge of placing holiday decorations on street lamps. They also turned Alice Carter Park into a beautiful entrance into the district, a valuable contribution to Indianapolis parks. The group also has a By-Laws Committee, a Crime Watch/Traffic Safety Committee, and a Newsletter Committee, to name a few.

The members of this association as well as residents on Historic North Meridian Street truly do have reason to be proud of their home. Famed author Booth Tarkington lived there from 1923 until his death in 1946, calling 4270 North Meridian Street home during that time. Tarkington referred to the architecture of his home, which was influenced by Tudor and Craftsman styles, as having a “picture book house appearance.” Also nestled among the North Meridian Street mansion is the Governor’s Mansion at 46th Street and Meridian.

The street not only runs directly into downtown Indianapolis, but also passes near landmarks such as Butler University, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Broad Ripple Village, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and Indianapolis Public Library downtown. The houses on North Meridian Street are marveled at by all who pass them. Undoubtedly North Meridian Street is a prize for Indianapolis real estate and one of the greatest Indianapolis Attractions. Interested in moving in? Read more here.


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