(May 8, 2015) - Throughout the month of May “Your Town Friday” is all about Indy! This morning we explore the Irvington neighborhood. You’ll find the Marion County community five miles east of downtown Indy from 10th Street to the north and Brookville Road to the south, Emerson to the west and Edmondson to the east.
Irvington was founded back in 1870 and planned to be a suburb of Indianapolis. The community was home to many politicians, professors and artists.
“It was one of the original art colonies of Indy. This is where all the professors and artists associated with Herron lived and worked and exhibited, so we’re the original arts colony of Indy,” said Paul Diebold, board member of the Irvington Historical Society.
In 1902, Irvington was annexed by Indianapolis. Today, Irvington is a historic district known for beautiful tree-lined streets, bungalow style homes and independently owned eateries and shops.
“We were one of the original suburban communities to Indy and we were home to Butler University. Butler-Tarkinton can claim that currently, but the foundations of Butler are here in this community and here in this building,” said Paul.
Butler’s very first library, The Bona Thompson Memorial Library in Irvington, is now home to the community’s Historical Society.
“The Irvington Historical Society was founded in 1964 and the main reason at that time was because there were some pretty incredible people and events that had happened here in Irvington, we have a remarkable history to be preserved that in some ways impacted national trends. The building itself is a highlight. We offer great walking tours where people can start from this building with the Butler history as an anchor. A unique thing for us, very few small nonprofits like us, is to have an art collection that’s a permanent art collection created here in the community by Irvington artists. We do have a railroad room and special exhibit of the angels of West Bayden. A local Indy artist has created a hub room at top of the dome by taking large format photos of the angels, it’s pretty much the only way you can experience what it’s like to be in that special space,” said Paul.
With Historical Society members ready to greet you at the door, your visit to The Bona Thompson Memorial Center is sure to be a much more personal and intimate experience than visiting one of the city’s larger museums.
Coming up at later in May, the Historical Society will have a replica of Lincoln’s casket on display as well as some other 19th century funerary items.
Along East Washington Street in historic Irvington you’ll find a strip of unique independently owned eatery and boutiques.
“I think we’re on the cusp of something great in Irvington right now. We have a full package working right now where you can see a bit of everything in a strip instead of bar bar bar,” said boutique owner Tommy James Dant.
James Dant, a lifestyle store just for men, has called Irvington home for just over a year now.
“The first thing we really sell is clothing obviously but we have a little of everything from watches and necklaces and rings to all the accessories. We also carry outdoorsy stuff. We have fire starter kits. We have mugs that you can use over an open fire, waxing kits for your boots, shoes as well. Because we focus just on the man we feel like we can pay a lot more attention than men’s and women's shops."
But don’t worry ladies, there’s a place for you just next door!
“The style ranges from 16 to 70 year olds. We have unique classic pieces to everyday pieces,” said Clair Hermesch, owner of Izzy & Es.
Izzy & Es opened their doors just this past fall.
“We carry a lot of international brands you can’t find in other boutiques in Indy. We have Canadian based brands, too. Level 99 is our denim brand and our handbag line is a vegan line called Jean & Jack also from Canada. We also feature a lot of European brands. We have a lot of dresses you could wear for weddings or going out. We also have every day wear that you can dress up or dress down or go to the supermarket or go shopping in. It’s relaxed and laid back. We also have a lot of jewelry that can dress up or dress down an outfit. It’s all about finding that balance and we cater to all clients,” said Clair.
And when you’re done shopping and need to hydrate and refuel, walk just a few steps down to Black Acre Brewing Company! Jordan Gleason and his four friends started home brewing while attending law school. They came up with a brewpub business plan and opened Black Acre just over three years ago.
“All of us were shooting to open a neighborhood pub, so we have a lot of wood, no TVs, a conversation-centric bar is how we wanted to be because the neighborhood didn’t really have a gathering spot, it lacked a watering hole, I guess,” said Jordan.
They brew in the back and they are about to open a 10,000 square foot production facility just down the street.
“We have a three-barrel brewery here which makes 93 gallons of beer a batch, that’s 700 pints, so we just make beer and sell out of here in pints and growlers. We don’t have any house beers, though, it’s always rotating and changing, we have over 150 recipes and we have a raw IPA we make all year round,” said Jordan.
And they have a simple food menu as well!
“We do Panini sandwiches, small plates, meat and cheese boards, crostini plates, and salads. The menu is limited but we use high-end ingredients,” said Jordan.