BEECH GROVE, INDIANA
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In 2006, there was a celebration in Beech Grove, Indiana. The event celebrated the city’s 100th anniversary of its incorporation. Today, the city of 15,000 is well within the boundaries of Indianapolis, but retains its personality as a small town.
Why “Beech Grove?” Apparently beech trees were fairly numerous in the area back then. Before it was officially a town, an early railroad stop nearby was called "Ingallstown."
To many, Beech Grove is still best known for its huge railroad repair facility, constructed for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroads, and completed in 1908. For decades, Beech Grove was a “company town" for the complex that sits on 108 acres with some 700,000 square feet under roof. Today, it’s an Amtrak Maintenance Facility. As late as 2007, Amtrak had some 600 employees in Beech Grove. Amtrak officials still ride one of the system’s business cars, called "The Beech Grove,” recognizing the city’s heritage as a railroad town.
Beech Grove is one of only three towns not annexed into the city of Indianapolis when “UniGov” merged most of Marion County with the state’s capital. OK, merge might not be the right word, since most of the count was simply absorbed by the city.
It’s said that Beech Grove’s first school opened in 1907 in the upstairs of the Wheat Grocery Store on Main Street. That’s either great marketing for the store or part of an early free lunch program in the schools.
Today, Beech Grove’s independent school district has two elementary schools, one intermediate school, a middle school and Beech Grove High School, home of the Beech Grove Hornets!
Who are some famous celebrities who called Beech Grove home at one time?
- Clifton Webb, (1889–1966) The actor was born in Beech Grove before it was a town. This stage star was better known for his Hollywood roles. Remember the Mr. Belvedere movies? What about Laura and Stars and Stripes Forever? He also starred in the original Razors’ Edge and Cheaper By The Dozen films.
- Steve McQueen (1930–1980) He was born at St. Francis Hospital and left as an infant, presumably in a souped-up Mustang (as an infant, you're too small for a motorcycle). The dude was cool. The famous race car driver also acted a bit. We can’t list all his great films, but do the names The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, Papillon, The Getaway and Bullitt mean anything to you?
- Sarah T. Bolton (1814-1893) This poet and “Paddle Your Own Canoe” author wrote many poems in her Beech Grove home. Today, Bolton Park sits on the land originally used as the Bolton Farm.
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