Five Things To Do in Indy’s Irvington Historic District

Irvington Theater
Irvington Theater

Irvington is a protected historic district east of downtown Indianapolis, just a short drive from campus. Irvington has a rich history; it is best known for the Irvington Halloween Festival originally established in 1927, for being Butler University’s original location in the late 1800s/early 1900s and for being home to the creator of Raggedy Ann.

Julian-Clarke House (Italianate)

1. Explore!

The homes in Irvington are especially unique, both in terms of architecture and layout. Houses of all major American architectural styles that existed between 1870 and 1950 are present in Irvington neighborhoods. It also includes the only identified house designed by Gustav Stickley in Indiana. Additionally, Irvington rejects the typical Indianapolis grid layout in favor of a winding street style, aligning with the Victorian Romantic landscape design era. Strolling through the neighborhood will provide you with the opportunity to read various Indiana Historical Markers, as well as to take in the sight of many architecturally preserved homes.

Hampton Designs Studio & Shop

2. Hampton Designs Studio & Shop

Amber Giles, an employee at Hampton Designs Studio & Shop, describes it as a treasure hunting place.

"... We always have new, fun art, which is really good for giftables," said Giles. "We have about 45 local artists, so if someone is looking to showcase their art, be a vendor, or do a First Friday, the owner, Adam, is really good about accepting new artists."

Home goods items, furniture, vintage items, geodes and more all intermingled; the bright decor played into the whimsical feel of the store.

Giles also suggested Irvington Vinyl and Books as another location in Irvington for college students to check out.

George Thomas Florist

3. George Thomas Florist

Established in 1928, George Thomas Florist hosts a wide range of flowers, as well as a wide range of deals, including Happy Hour Flowers and $20 Tuesday Special.

In addition to local sources, George Thomas Florist also flies in flowers each day from European flower auctions through West Coast and South American growers. 

This florist includes in-store shopping, curbside pickup and delivery, perfect for window-shopping or purchasing a gift. 

For more plant-related endeavors, Urban Houseplant Collective is a female-owned garden center in Irvington.

Rock-Cola 50's Cafe

4. Rock-Cola 50’s Cafe

Rock-Cola 50’s Cafe emulates a typical 50s diner with vintage decor and time period-appropriate menu items, although it was established in 1992.

Choc-Ola was a popular traditional drink in the Midwest between 1940 and 1980; it was manufactured in Indianapolis during this time frame. According to the official Choc-Ola website, this cafe is the only remaining location where customers can purchase the nostalgic chocolate drink.

Black Sheep Gifts

5. Black Sheep Gifts

Black Sheep Gifts is an independently-owned gift store that provides unique options for all. The staff have a family–and neighbor– oriented mindset, which shines through in their gift recommendations. They also arrange for ‘Mystery Bags’; this entails them shipping customers unique items based on specified details and budget.

From antique stores to restaurants, Irvington has much to offer college students looking for something to do on the weekend. Irvington Flea Market, Collector’s Paradise and Wyliepalooza are other unique places to explore in Irvington. 

On Dec. 2, from 5 p.m. -10 p.m., Handpicked, a vintage shop in Irvington, will present their Holly Jolly Jamboree handmade and vintage market at the Irvington Lodge. This event includes free admission (and an ugly sweater contest!).

Sahar Abdullah (she/her) is a senior at IUPUI, majoring in Biomedical Informatics with minors in Literature and Chemistry. She is the Culture Editor of The Campus Citizen. 

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