Ransom Place leaves legacy of Indy’s black elite

The Ransom Place neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 for its significance in the heritage of the African American community.

INDIANAPOLIS — Our tour with Through2Eyes’ Sampson Levingston included walking the streets of Ransom Place, a historic neighborhood about six blocks near the IUPUI campus northwest of Monument Circle.

The area with townhouses, Queen Anne cottages with porches, and street parking is one of the city’s most intact 19th-century neighborhoods associated with African Americans. It is bordered by West 10th, West and St. Clair streets and Camp Avenue.

The district, which was established in 1897, is named after Freeman Ransom, attorney for Mrs. CJ Walker and her company. Walker is billed as the first self-made millionaire woman, who made and sold hair care products for the black community.

The Ransom family moved to the area in 1910 and owned two homes on California Street, 828 and 824.

In its heyday, Ransom Place had a church, a general store, and was within walking distance of Crispus Attacks High School. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 for its significance in the legacy of the African American community.

As we walked the sidewalks, Sampson pointed out the original limestone curbs, an outhouse, and an old campaign sticker for Birch Bayh Jr. who served as a U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1963 to 1981. The sign still stands on the side of the old neighborhood store and covered in white paint.

Sampson said during his tour of the area he met some of the original families who still owned property there. Some of the homes are updated and have a great location for downtown, Eskenazi Health, Methodist Hospital and the IUPUI campus.

Thank you, Sampson, for helping me discover the history of this neighborhood which is just a few blocks from my WTHR workhouse!

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