The oldest surviving residential neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis, Lockerbie Square is situated just half a mile from Monument Circle. It is the first historic district in Indianapolis to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood features cobblestone streets and an eclectic mix of Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne homes that history and architecture buffs are sure to appreciate. Stepping into this neighborhood is like stepping back a century and a half in time.
The History of Lockerbie Square
The neighborhood takes its name from the Lockerbie family, who platted out portions of the district in the mid 1800s. Skilled laborers and immigrant artisans built homes side-by-side with wealthy retailers and furniture manufacturers. Many early residents were of Scots-Irish, Scottish, and German descent.
The neighborhood’s most famous resident was Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, who lived in Lockerbie Square for the last 23 years of his life. The home is now the James Whitcomb Riley Museum, a National Historic Landmark and the only late-Victorian preservation in the nation that is open to the public.
The neighborhood spiraled downward in the 1920s, and by World War II, most of the homes had been sold, abandoned, or turned into boarding houses.
In the 1960s, plans to renovate the area began to take shape, under the guidance of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. With the restoration of many original homes and the integration of a few new ones, today the Lockerbie Square neighborhood is thriving once again.
Take a Walk Back in Time
You can discover the treasures of Lockerbie Square by taking a walking tour of the neighborhood. All of the homes on the tour are now private residences and, as such, are not open to the public, with the exception of the James Whitcomb Riley Museum.