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Ransom Place Historic District

Ransom Place Historic District
Ransom Place Historic District
Indiana Division of Historic Preservation
and Archaeology

Ransom Place Historic District is the most intact 19th century neighborhood associated with African Americans in Indianapolis. The district was home to many black business leaders over its long history.

The area northwest of Monument Circle was identified as a black settlement in writings as early as the 1830s. Here churches, schools, and commercial areas developed to serve the black community. Redevelopment pressures from a major university in the 1960s meant that very few sections of the original neighborhoods of African Americans would survive. This section, however, remained a vital black community well into the 20th century.

The district is named for the prominent Ransom family that resided in the district. Freeman Ransom was the patriarch of the family. Freeman was an attorney and for years was the corporate attorney and manager of the Madame C. J. Walker Company. His son, Willard, also lived in the district and was a noted attorney. Other well known black civic leaders, doctors, attorneys, and other professionals lived in the district as well.

In 1945, the neighborhood received a boost from the newly formed Indianapolis Redevelopment Commission. The commission selected an area slightly larger than the current district as its first redevelopment area. The designation provided assistance in home repairs. In other nearby parts of Indianapolis, the commission removed existing houses and assisted in construction of new homes.

Queen Anne cottages with T-plans and L-plans were popular in the neighborhood. Most date from the 1890s. Researchers of American vernacular architecture have long theorized that the “shotgun” house type is African in origin. The district has several examples of this house type on Camp Avenue that likely date to c. 1875. The Ransom family owned two houses on California Street, 828 and 824.

Plan your visit
Ransom Place Historic District is roughly bounded by West 10th, West, Camp and St. Clair Sts. Its private homes are not open to the public. INDYGO bus line from downtown: #34 Michigan Rd., disembark at 10th and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Poppie-Hickman House has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.
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