The ONS Historic District
Historic Significance. During the late nineteenth century,
a residence in what was then the Northside of the City was a mark
of success and affluence. While industry and its accompanying
working-class neighborhoods sprang up to the south, west, and
east of the original Mile Square boundaries of the City, the wealthy
built their mansions in the wooded and rural setting to the north
of the commercial and retail district.
since demolished, this mansion once stood at the northeast
corner of Delaware Street and 13th Street. (Bass Photo)
The northward movement began as early as the late 1840s, but
not until after the Civil War did the Northside see substantial
development. From that time to the early 20th century, the area
was the most fashionable place to live. After 1900, other areas
still farther north were settled and the original Northside (which
became "the Old Northside" by virtue of the migration)
was supplanted by the region north of Fall Creek as the most prestigious
Museums. While most of the beautiful Victorian homes are privately owned,
the Old Northside has two outstanding house museums,
the President Benjamin Harrison Home
, and the Morris-Butler House.
They are both open to public, and offer a glimpse of life in the Victorian era.
Living in a Historic District: In the late 1970s, the
City of Indianapolis adopted the Old Northside Historic Preservation
Plan. Based upon this "master plan", the Old Northside
(map) was designated an "historic area
of Indianapolis-Marion County," giving the Indianapolis Historic
Preservation Commission (IHPC) the authority to exercise "historic
area review" over all design, demolition and exterior appearance
changes that are undertaken in The Old Northside.
Old Northside Preservation Plan: All property in the ONS must be developed and maintained in accordance
with the ONS preservation plan. Approvals must be received from the
IHPC before work is commenced, or fines and penalties may be assessed.
The IHPC guidelines govern the exterior appearances of all ONS
properties, whether built in the 19th century or the 21st century.
Property owners are limited in their use of colors, building materials
and even landscaping. All exterior modifications must be sensitive
to the historical nature of the area and have approval from the
IHPC (usually in the form of a Certificate of Appropriateness).
Click here to download the:
Old Northside Preservation Plan
Please note: this is a 22Mb file! Also, this document was originally compliled in 1978, and has not made the transition to a digital format well.
Slightly more readable copies of the ONS Master Plan may also be purchased for $20.00, contact the ONS
What is the IHPC? In 1967, the Indiana General Assembly
enacted IC 36-7-11.1, establishing and empowering the Indianapolis
Historic Preservation Commission to preserve the character and
fabric of historically significant areas and structures for all
present and future citizens of Marion County, Indiana. The IHPC
accomplishes this task by protecting areas through local designation
and technical assistance on restoration and rehabilitation of
historic structures or areas.
a Certificate of Appropriateness?
|A Certificate of Appropriateness
(COA) is a document issued by the IHPC stating the specified
work has been approved. A COA is required before most
exterior work begins, before a building permit can be
issued, and before any variance of development standards,
land use variance, or rezoning may be granted.
The IHPC is a nine-member, mayoral-appointed board with design
and zoning review jurisdiction over the locally designated historic
and conservation districts. Since 1976, the IHPC has had a professional
staff that functions as a division of the Department of Metropolitan
Development of the City of Indianapolis. The IHPC provides design
and zoning review and approval for locally designated historic
districts, conservation areas, and individually designated properties.
The IHPC holds monthly public hearings to issue Certificates of
Appropriateness, Rezonings, and Variances for work to be done
in historic areas. The Commission usuallly meets on the first
Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in Room 120 of the City-County
The IHPC staff is available to the public to provide technical
information about the restoration and rehabilitation of historic
buildings. The staff can also provide design assistance and information
about properties in Indianapolis historic districts and throughout
ONS Land Use Committee:
The Old Northside has created a "Land Use Committee" to help facilitate interaction
between the IHPC applicants, the ONS neighborhood association, and IHPC.
For detailed information on the Land Use Committee,
please click here.
For More Information: For much more information on the
IHPC and its requirements and services, see the
Preservation Commission's website.