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Meredith Nicholson House Museum and the Indiana Humanties Council

The Meredith Nicholson Home in the historic Northside of Indianapolis preserves the legacy of a famed Indiana author and shelters the Indian Humanities Council. Nicholson is among the ranks of other great Hoosier authors such as Booth Tarkington, James Whitcomb Riley and Kurt Vonnegut. The Indiana Humanities Council makes their headquarters in the Meredith Nicholson home with the mission to educate Indianapolis people by encouraging them to think, read and write.

Known as “The House of a Thousand Candles,” the Meredith Nicholson Home is the historic place where the famous author penned his best selling novel of the same name. Nicholson sold the house in 1923, and since then it has passed through many hands. For years residents of the historic Old Northside hoped that the house, its heritage and historical significance would be preserved. And in fact prevented the house from becoming a funeral home in 1933 because their “opposition was too spirited” according to the Indianapolis Star.

In 1986 the Indiana Humanities Council acquired the house with the idea to turn it into the hub for their Indy organization. Through their work, the Meredith Nicholson Home has become a center for community service and the promotion of the humanities through project grants to Indiana non profit organizations.They support Indianapolis arts and humanities that promote literature, history, philosophy, languages and related disciplines. With a focus on questioning, values, traditions, aesthetics, criticism and logic, the Indiana Humanities Council hopes to improve Indianapolis culture.

This would have undoubtedly met well with the ideals that Meredith “Nick” Nicholson espoused in his writing. In fact, he often said that the key to success is to stick close to home. In his work The Hoosiers, Nicholson comments on Indiana’s social and cultural history. And it is said that he loved to reminisce about his life spent in Indiana. Nicholson was born in 1866 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He moved to the Capitol City, where he spent most of his life, at the young age of five.

Though he dropped out of his Indianapolis high school, Nicholson found great joy in undertaking his own education in Indianapolis. Fluent in Latin, Greek, French and Italian, he was a voluminous reader. Throughout his life, he worked many odd jobs from a drug store clerk to a gofer in a print shop. Though he began a career in law, he soon abandoned the pursuit to work as a reporter for the Indianapolis News. Thus started his literary career.

Over the course of his career as an author, he penned about thirty books, plays and essays. He retired from writing in 1929 to become a diplomat. He found success in the political world as a staunch Democrat, and he was appointed United States Ambassador to Paraguay during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s time in office. He was eventually transferred to Venezuela and then to Nicaragua. In 1941 he returned to the Circle City, where he lived until his death on December 20, 1947. He was 81 years old.

The Meredith Nicholson Home is believed to be the first Georgian/ Colonial Revival Style. Built in 1903, the house stands as a landmark in architecture in Indianapolis. It was refurbished by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indianapolis in 1979. It stunning beauty is obvious on the inside and out. From the symmetrical facade of brick laid in Flemish bonds to multi-paned windows and even pediment-ed roof dormers. Unique design elements permeate the house. An elliptical fanlight greets guests in the foray as they stand on three different kinds of Indiana hardwood, which composes the floor. Original mantelpieces on multiple fireplaces give the house an intimate feel.

The Indiana Humanities Council has found a true home in the Meredith Nicholson House. The community of neighbors active in protecting the quality and character of the historic Old Northside are a perfect match to the mission of the Indiana Humanities Council. For more information about the Meredith Nicholson Home, visit the Indiana Humanities Council’s website.

Meredith Nicholson Home
Indiana Humanities Council
1500 North Delaware Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317.638.1500

Mike Woods