Situated four miles northwest of downtown, this 200-acre campus was established in 1937 when the Sisters of Saint Francis chose to relocate their educational institution, founded in the 1850s, from Oldenburg to Indianapolis. The impetus was the purchase of James Allison’s 64-acre Riverdale estate (now known as Allison Mansion), the grounds of which were designed by Jens Jensen in the early 1900s. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the campus was expanded south along Cold Springs Road with the addition of Clare Hall, Marian Hall and a gymnasium. In 1963 the college purchased the poorly-maintained 30-acre Wheeler-Stokely Mansion and repairs were made to the building and grounds.
Today the campus reaches south to 30th Street and includes several additional buildings introduced over a 60-year period. The campus’ western edge features athletic facilities and student housing. To the north, Allison Mansion serves as the home for the university president, while the wetland and forest beyond the estate, including the Jensen-designed landscape, were preserved as the 55-acre Nina Mason Pulliam Ecolab, a hands-on, outdoor classroom. Once part of the Wheeler-Stokely estate, a Japanese garden and teahouse on the southern side of campus have been restored while the main building is used as the admissions office. In 2009 Marian transitioned from a college to a full university with the addition of a graduate school, and in 2011 the Lake Sullivan Sports Complex was completed northeast of campus. In 2015 local architecture firm Schmidt Associates completed a campus master plan calling for the construction of new academic and athletic facilities to accommodate the University’s goal of doubling its annual graduates by 2025.