IDO has great way for you to help the Irvington Streetscape stay bright, clean, and green while also saving some “green” on your state taxes. For the second year now, the state of Indiana is offering Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits to businesses and individuals who donate to the Washington Streetscape Maintenance Fund.

When you contribute to the Irvington Streetscape between July 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, you can reduce your state tax liability by 50% of the donation amount. The minimum donation is $100 and all donations can be made in installments as long as they are within the same calendar year. So for a $1,000 donation, you can take $500 off what you owe in state taxes. If you itemize, you can also claim the full $1,000 as a deduction on your federal taxes, further lowering your out-of-pocket costs.

By the way, a round of applause is in order for those who contributed in 2016-2017. IDO collected $5,646, which is nearly half of what it costs to keep the street lights lit. Thanks!

For more information on how you can help the Irvington Streetscape and save money, contact

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owl in progress6More than a year ago, the artwork on the traffic box at the corner of Emerson Avenue and Washington Street had succumbed to vandalism and a hit-and-run collision. Here’s hoping the third time’s the charm. IDO issued a call to artists to re-re-paint the box this spring, and Irvingtonian Andrea Light won the contest with her Peter Max-esque owl image. The Public Spaces Committee is very excited about her stylized design of this creature of nature that could be roosting in the trees along Pleasant Run as she’s out there painting.

The Frank N. Owings Family Foundation gave a grant to IDO for the artist’s supplies and a stipend for her work and creativity. Andrea will also be rewarded with an exclusive exhibit of her work at the Bona Thompson Memorial Center later this fall, courtesy of Irvington Historical Society.

We’d like to thank Frank and Patte Owings, who head up the Frank N. Owings Family Foundation, for their generous donation. These former Irvingtonians offer their time, talent, and treasure in support of the culture of Indianapolis. You can read more about their work in this article from IUPUI.

Look for Andrea at work en plein-air, and please slow down.

And if there are any other artists who’d like a chance at exhibiting their work to a few thousand drivers and many grateful neighbors, two more boxes have just become “available” for adornment. 

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By Todd Grooten

The annual Benton House Book Sale will be held donated booksJuly 21–23 on the grounds of the historic Benton House, at 312 South Downey Avenue, with free admission. If you’re looking for great used books at great prices, join us at the following times:

Friday, July 21, 5–8 p.m.

Saturday, July 22, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Sunday, July 23 ($5 bag sale day), 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Payment can be made by cash, check or credit card. To offset merchant costs, we’ll ask customers to pay a $1 fee to use a credit card.

Our sale is one of the largest book sales in Indianapolis, with thousands of titles to browse through. Prices range from $1 for paperbacks to $2 for hard covers, and children’s books are at a special low price. On Sunday, you can buy a bag of books for just $5! (We provide the bag.)

In addition to books, this year we’re selling gently used items from the Benton House, including decor, furniture, lawn and garden equipment, and gently used Christmas decorations. We’ll still feature recycled Christmas items as part of our annual holiday bazaar, but we wanted to give people a head start on their holiday. Christmas is right around the corner!

The sale is a culmination of months of hard work by volunteers in the community who donate, haul, sort, and set up thousands of books under a tent donated by longtime east side business Montgomery Tent & Awning Company. Book drops have been in place since mid-May at several Irvington businesses, including Black Sheep, Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, Lincoln Square, and The Mug. Many thanks to our supporters!

Proceeds from the sale benefit the Benton House, a Second Empire home built in 1873. It was the home of Allen R. Benton, twice president of Butler University. The Irvington Historic Landmarks Foundation was founded in 1966 to purchase and restore the Benton House. In 1969, the Benton House Association was formed to maintain the house and promote it as rental space for weddings, showers, and other events.

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Steve Barnett is no stranger to history. In fact, it’s widely known that if you need to find out something about your Irvington home, Steve’s the man to ask. He has meticulously created a database of the homes east of Linwood Avenue, south of 10th Street, north of Brookville Road, and west of Kitley Avenue.

Steve Barnett Photo Courtesy hoosier history liveSteve was a member of the community group that created the Irvington Historic District, and he also helped in getting nearby neighbors on the National Registry. He serves as a regular columnist on the Weekly View, sharing a variety of historical information ranging back as far as 100 years ago. Steve contributes house histories for homes that are on the annual Benton House Tour of Homes.

In fact, the History Channel consulted with Steve for their upcoming series H.H. Holmes: American Ripper. From the History Channel website: “In American Ripper, Holmes’ great-great-grandson, Jeff Mudgett, sets out to prove a controversial theory: that H.H. Holmes and Britain’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper, were the same man.” This series began airing Tuesday, July 11, and Irvington is slated to be featured in upcoming weeks.

When Steve was president of Irvington Historical Society in the 1980s, artifacts and artwork were stored in the History Room in the basement of the former Brown Branch Public Library. The move to the Bona Thompson Memorial Center began in the late ’90s, but the doors were not opened to the public until all 2002 due to construction and repairs. Each week you can find Steve offering tours of Irvington Historical Society’s museum and exhibits during regular operating hours.

How long have you lived and/or worked here in Irvington?

Steve can trace his family’s Irvington roots all the way back to 1927. Between his father and himself, there’s at least one graduate from IPS School 57, IPS School 85, Howe and Tech.  His grandfather worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad and moved to Irvington to be closer to his work at Hawthorne Yards. His father worked at International Harvester and was in the Navy during World War II. Steve served in the National Guard with Dan Quayle during his college years. He and his wife Sue spent a few years on Capitol Hill before moving back home where Steve worked with first Andy Jacobs, then Julia Carson.

What do you do for fun?

Steve enjoys playing with his grandkids and studying genealogy to understand his family’s history. His mother was Canadian, so he and Sue like to travel to the Georgian Bay region.

What’s your favorite walk, bike ride, block, or view in the neighborhood?

There are too many options for Steve to have only one favorite. When he walks through the neighborhood, he finds his favorites are those areas he frequented as a child, namely University Avenue and Irving Circle Park.  Also Bonna Avenue and the area around the George W. Julian House are still among his favorites.  He still likes Ellenberger Park, but commented that it is vastly different from his childhood days; the wooded western half of the park was so heavily forested it was like night and very mysterious.  He enjoys the Kile Oak tree, which he visited for the first time as an adult.

If you were Mayor of Irvington for a day, what would you do first?

After careful consideration, Steve said he would build a parking garage.  Steve realizes street parking and limited surface lots are not the solution, and he doesn’t want to go to permit parking along some neighborhood streets.  Currently, during special events, some residents can hardly drive from their homes due to problems with parking and automobile congestion created by outsiders looking for parking options.  Additionally, Steve believes we must continue to welcome and encourage visitors from outside Irvington, but many end up as frustrated guests because of the difficulty in finding parking; they leave with a negative impression and may not return.  He acknowledges that there are pockets of surface parking, but those areas should be made more inviting and have better signage at eye level directing visitors to them.  In addition, consideration should be given to marking spaces around the north circle and adjacent streets to maximize existing street parking.

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Trent Taylor wants more places to safely park his bike in Irvington. Trent had mapped where the racks are now and likely places for additional ones. He did a spreadsheet and prioritized the locations. He was determined.

bike racks 2017 dHe contacted members of  Irvington Green Initiative, who connected him to the intrepid team on IDO’s Public Spaces Committee. Jason Koch, who’s on the committee, had an idea of where to get bike racks. He asked Jamison Hutchins, the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, who could get 10 racks that promote the Knozone program for free. Knozone is an awareness campaign run through the city’s Department of Public Works, Office of Sustainability to improve our air quality. Riding bikes instead of driving cars is a great way to do that! But you’re not going to ride your bike if you don’t have a secure place to park it. Thus the bike racks.

If business owners are interested in purchasing bike racks at cost (all the free ones have been installed) that can go on either private property or in the public right of way, IndyCog has a program to purchase them. IDO will coordinate the locations and get the necessary permits. And Dan Jones, an Irvington craftsman, is considering designing and fabricating custom Irvington-inspired bike racks. If you want to make a statement, that may be the way to go. Contact

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By Lisa Watson

On April 23, seven not-for-profit organizations with a focus on Irvington came together to hold the first Volunteer Irvington event. The goal was to showcase the volunteer opportunities that each organization has available. There was a great and steady turnout, and we all met a lot of wonderful neighbors, including those who are new to the neighborhood and lifelong residents.

Thank you to the organizations that participated, volunteers who helped with the event, and neighbors who stopped by. Congratulations to Malinda Cox Baker, whose name was chosen at random for the $20 door prize.

Volunteer Irvington’s next step is to work with to include links to the organizations as well as the volunteer opportunities that are available. In the meantime, see the following information about the nonprofit organizations that participated and feel free to contact them for more information.

  • The Benton House: This historic Irvington home — built in 1873 in the Second Empire architectural style — is maintained through the volunteer support of The Benton House Association, under the administration of Irvington Historic Landmarks Foundation. Volunteer opportunities include helping with the annual book sale and home tour.
  • Friends of Ellenberger Park: Master landscape architect and urban planner George Edward Kessler designed this park in 1909, with the intent to maintain the land’s mature trees and natural paths. This organization is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the park as a resource for its surrounding communities through effective advocacy, stewardship, and fund development. Volunteer opportunities include beautifying or monitoring the park or lending a hand in coordinating special events.
  • Friends of Irving Circle: This charming park on Audubon Road, with a fountain, mature trees, and a bust of Washington Irving, was once part of the Butler College campus in Irvington. These days, Friends of Irving Circle maintain the park and host summer concerts. Volunteer opportunities include park beautification and cleanup, and assisting with summer concerts and Irvington Luminaria.
  • Historic Irvington Community Council: This organization’s mission is to have a positive, lasting impact on the quality of life in Irvington.
  • Irvington Development Organization: IDO works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood, and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Volunteer opportunities include grant writing, communications, and staffing the IDO booth at events. and @IrvDevOrg
  • Irvington Garden Club: Founded in 1999 is a group of community minded, garden-loving neighbors from Irvington (and beyond). IGC is one of many clubs in the central district of The Garden Club of Indiana. The organization hosts Irvington Farms Market and Irvington Garden Tour. Members maintain the grounds of the Benton House and Kile Oak. Volunteer opportunities include beautification and garden cleanup, and helping with the farmers market and garden tour.
  • Irvington Historical Society: Irvington is one of the few Indianapolis neighborhoods with its own history museum, to the credit of Irvington Historical Society. This organization promotes and furthers the artistic traditions, heritage, legacy, and artists — past and present — of the greater Irvington and Central Indiana community. Volunteer opportunities include helping with events and more.
    On Facebook at

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