Brendonwood Historic District is a community roughly bounded by Fall Creek, 56th Street, and Brendon Forest Drive in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Brendonwood Historic District was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 2004. The Brendonwood Historic District was designated, in part, due to its community planning and development attributes; entertainment and recreation facilities; landscape architecture; and building structure, design, and architecture. The period of architectural significance embodied in the distinctive characteristics of the Brendonwood Historic District reflects 1917 through 1956.
The Brendonwood Historic District Foundation will revitalize and preserve the District’s diverse historic resources and environment while encouraging its appreciation and protection.
Central Indiana residents will benefit from the education activities pertaining to the Brendonwood Historic District;
Residents of the Fall Creek Valley will benefit from the preservation and restoration work performed and from facilities and sites made available to the public; and Residents of the Brendonwood Historic District will gain an appreciation of protection activities and revitalization efforts.
Private inurement is to be avoided: No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in the Articles of Incorporation.
What are the benefits to be provided and how will this be accomplished?
Brendonwood Historic District Foundation will:
- Preserve and revitalize historic buildings, sites, and related landscapes in the BW Historic District;
- Preserve and maintain the unique environmental characteristics of the BW Historic District considering its physical location adjacent to Fall Creek and within the Fall Creek Valley;
- Broaden understanding of the environmental and economic impact of preservation as an essential tool for community revitalization, quality of life enhancement and sustainability;
- Expand the preservation constituency by increasing public awareness of historic resources; and
- Collect best practices regarding preservation and disseminate knowledge within the Central Indiana community.
The Brendonwood Historic District includes a variety of natural resources that are unique to the region. Mount Nebo is a ridge popular for picnicking and Lone Oak offers stunning views of what many believe is Indiana’s oldest oak tree. Moreover, the entire western boundary of the District is spanned by Fall Creek. There is a total of 85 contributing buildings on the 350 acres included in the Brendonwood Historic District. One hundred of these acres are common property for roadways; walking and bridal paths; a golf course and park and recreational purposes; and other community green spaces. Plot #90 was dedicated to the Brendonwood Common for a meeting house, which is a structure contributing to the historic character and architecture of the District. Entertainment and recreation were part of the original Charles Lewis vision for this community and T.E. Hibben designed the common house to serve as a hub for community interaction and collaboration. The buildings and its grounds were intended and are still used for activities relating to celebrations and picnics, neighborhood pitch-in dinners, garden club events, public meetings related to preservation education, and conversations on topics of historic relevance.
In addition to the common house, there are two significant contributing sites: The Brendonwood Historic District main entry is a formal double lane drive named The Mall. Rows of trees line it, creating an elegant entrance to the historic district. Originally bordered by seven rows of elms, those trees fell victim to the Dutch Elm disease in the 1940-50s and have been replaced with scarlet maple trees, which are presently maintained. The Mall features an enormous boulder located at its entrance on which is a bronze plaque etched with the name Brendonwood. This was put in place as part of the original landscape design and remains there in its original location today.
The second contributing site is the golf course, which is located on a crescent shaped landscape known as Sycamore Flats. It is adjacent to Fall Creek and still features a number of sycamore trees. Sycamore Flats was designed and built in 1923 by Lawrence Sheridan and was given to the common by Charles S. Lewis for the use of its members as a private recreational facility. The course has seen both neglect and rebirth. It continues today as a fine nine hole golf course used primarily as a members-only club.
Three additional extant structures include a curved stone bridge across a drainage creek on Sycamore Flats, the tennis court, and the swimming pool. At the time of Brendonwood’s application to the United States Department of the Interior, in 2004, the pool and its adjacent decking and landscape had not yet reached 50 years of age and therefore were not included in the application as a contributing structure (1959 erection). The tennis facility was built in 1924 but was not specifically listed in the 2004 application to the Department of the Interior as contributing. The pool house and the curved stone bridge are contemporary structures, the former built in the 1980s and the latter in 2002, and therefore do not qualify as contributing to historic character or significance due to age.
When evaluating the relative merits of proposed projects consider:
- Environmental significance
- Does the proposed activity lead to greater preservation, cultivation, or awareness?
- Does it avoid private inurement?
Past activities in Brendonwood
- The Brendonwood Garden Club, formally established in 1948, continues as an active organization for the beautification of the historic district. The club replaced the dead elms on The Mall. Its activities are consistent with the beautification of the Brendonwood Historic District and include educating the community about proper planting techniques, local indigenous plant species, and fund raising to contribute to the beautification of the The Mall, Sycamore Flats, and historically pertinent common areas.
- Brendonwood has also served as a host to numerous tours, including tours of the Indianapolis Garden Club, Indiana Landmarks, and collaborations with associations such as the American Institute of Architects.
- Periodically, cross country running events are hosted on Sycamore Flats as requested by local high schools.
Brendonwood Historic District Foundation activities will include, for example:
- Repair, maintain, and revitalize historic buildings, sites, and related environs within the District;
- Plan and conduct tours of the Historic District which will include visits to historic sites;
- Collaborate with compatible nonprofit entities to increase public education regarding preservation and conservation; and
- Educate the public to better comprehend the historic richness of the Fall Creek Valley.
Brendonwood Historic District Foundation public awareness activities will include, for example:
- Communication in the newsletters and other media used by central Indiana charitable institutions similarly aligned; and
- Periodic talk and table sessions regarding topics of historic importance within the central Indiana community.
The Board of Directors shall not fail to annually:
- Submit the appropriate IRS 990, five months and fifteen days after the conclusion of the budget year (May 15);
- Submit the Indiana Department of Revenue NP-20 return, also five months and fifteen days after the conclusion of the budget year (May 15);
- File a business entity report with the Indiana Secretary of State;
- Maintain minutes of meetings and sustain a minimum of three directors; and
- In writing, acknowledge gifts of greater than $250 in any budget year.