The near-Southside's answer to the Northside's Broad Ripple?
One of six designated cultural districts in Indianapolis. (including Broad Ripple, Mass. Avenue, the Wholesale District, the Canal & White River State Park and Indiana Avenue), Fountain Square is centered at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Shelby and Prospect Streets.
It started around 1835, when Calvin Fletcher and Nicholas McCarty purchased a big ol' farm to develop. Back then there wasn't a lot happening around Indianapolis and this wasn’t an immediate success, with sparse, mostly residential development for several decades. Then, in the 1870s, the Germans arrived to what is now the Fountain Square neighborhood. A large number of German immigrants settling in the area were followed by German and German-American merchants, who helped to establish much of the area’s character.
What brought the Germans to Fountain Square, you ask? In the 1860s, The Virginia Avenue corridor became the Southside's commercial center when the Citizen's Street Railway Company laid tracks and located a turnaround at the intersection in the middle of what’s now Fountain Square. The turnaround gave local residents a reason to call that neighborhood "the End.” Later, a fountain was constructed at that intersection, giving the neighborhood its Fountain Square name.
For the next century, Fountain Square was in many ways a center of Indianapolis commerce, just two miles from downtown. All the while it was also a great residential center, with many beautiful homes built in the neighborhood. During the first half of the 20th Century, Fountain Square thrived as a business and cultural center. Culturally, the area had numerous movie, vaudeville and stage theaters
But in the 1950s suburban sprawl began to cause a decline in Fountain Square's position as a prime commercial center. Theaters and banks closed and the area’s symbolic fountain was even moved to the further-south Garfield Park. For decades, it witnessed its own decline, especially with the construction of I-65/I-70 in the 1970s, which split the neighborhood in two and caused hundreds of homes and business to be razed.
Finally, in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, reinvestment came back to Fountain Square. Instead of commerce, the area has become known for its unique restaurants, art galleries, studios, live music, theater, antiques and locally-owned businesses.
Like what, you say? Well, the Fountain Square Theatre Building right on the square offers an historic diner, duckpin bowling, an Inn and rooftop dining.
Swing dancing is enjoying a revival in the Ballroom overlooking the square, with its Victorian décor and painted ceilings.
Add to that the renovated theater, great galleries and locally-owned restaurants and you understand why many are choosing Fountain Square as their new home, renovating the historic homes to their Victorian splendor.
So - did we get your attention? Let's start looking at Fountain Square homes for sale!
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