Woodruff Place Historic District

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Indianapolis, IN
United States
Woodruff Place Historic District

Landscape Information

Woodruff Place

Situated ten blocks east of the original Mile Square, this district is considered one of the first self-contained Victorian residential subdivisions in the nation. In 1872, influenced by the urban park movement of the time, civil engineer James Woodruff developed the community with the intent to create an exclusive suburban town with a park-like setting beyond the noise and distractions of downtown. Bordered by East 10th Street, East Michigan Street, Arsenal Technical High School and North Tecumseh Street, Woodruff Place encompasses approximately 80 acres and contains 261 individual lots.

The rectangular precinct includes three north-south boulevards, a bisecting east-west drive, and brick alleyways that provide access to former carriage houses and servant quarters. The three boulevards are defined by central, tree-lined medians, adorned with Victorian embellishments including nine multi-tiered fountains and approximately ninety vases, planters, urns and other cast iron and masonry sculptures. Dating from the 1870s, the three most prominent fountains on Cross Drive were some of the first to be installed and are among the oldest in existence within Indianapolis. While poured bronze street light fixtures have been replaced with replicas over the years, some extant original fixtures remain, dating from 1905. The district’s varying architectural styles represent changing tastes over time. World War I and the Depression contributed to an overall decline in the number of residents, while many of the Victorian and Edwardian homes were subdivided into apartments during a housing shortage following World War II. The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.