On the west side of Indianapolis a small enclave of 54 houses exists united as the antithesis of its surroundings. Although unfamiliar to many long-term residents of the city, Golden Hill has existed as a neighborhood since 1915. The district contains an outstanding collection of period revival architecture and community planning that interlaces houses and greenspaces along curving, tree-lined lanes. With its beginnings as an exclusive residential estate, the land later developed into a prestigious subdivision that became the home of many influential Indianapolis residents, including industrialist David Parry.
As early as 1872 a curvilinear plat existed in the area now known as Golden Hill. Though originally called Clifton-On-The-River, this area resembled the plan seen today. An 1899 Baist Atlas shows the area as platted; however, the only homes are either located along Michigan Road or are farm buildings north of the plat.
From 1900 to 1907 David Parry purchased the land that composed Clifton-On-The-River except for the lots between Crescent Street and Michigan Road, and those between Grand Avenue and 36th Street. In 1908 Parry hired Scottish landscape architect, George MacDougall, to design the grounds for an estate that would overlook White River and the Central Canal. MacDougall incorporated existing curved roads into his new scheme and added a stone bridge, gatehouse and gates. Following Parry's death in 1915, his heirs hired MacDougall to landscape the newly subdivided estate. At this time MacDougall added Golden Hill Drive with an esplanade, Parry Drive that connected to East Riverside Parkway, Totem Lane,
Pickwick Place, and Governor's Road. This plan also included the two lots that front 36th Street. Today the changes to this original plat are minor: East Riverside Parkway runs west of the canal; there is no Parry Drive; Golden Hill Drive does not have an esplanade, nor does it connect to the parkway; Governors Road ends in a circle; and Pickwick Place no longer intersects Crescent Road. All the original greenspaces still exist.
As mentioned, before the subdivision of Golden Hill there was the private estate of David M. Parry. He lived in the area from c.1904 until 1915. Family members remained in Golden Hill until c.1941. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 26, 1852 to parents of Scottish and Welsh descent, David Parry and his family relocated to Indiana in 1853. Here they settled on a farm near Laurel in Franklin County.
As a young adult, David Parry worked in Iowa and New York City before returning to Indiana in 1873 to establish a hardware business with an older brother. In 1875 Parry married Cora Harbottle of Brooklyn, New York. She died seven years later leaving Parry with two daughters, Helen and Cora.
Following his wife's death, Parry moved his family to Rushville where he purchased a carriage shop. In 1883 he married Hessie Daisy Maxwell of Indianapolis. Three years later they moved to Indianapolis where David Parry manufactured buggies and farm implements under the name Parry Manufacturing Company. The business, which grew to be world-recognized, helped make horse-drawn vehicles the state's largest industry in the late 1800s. During the late nineteenth century the company grew to include 19 buildings covering 20 acres. Hvman's Handbook of Indianapolis claims the plant was "... larger than the five largest carriage factories in the world put together . . ."
As a vocal opponent of labor unions, David Parry was forced to have 24 hour guards placed on his Golden Hill Estate. He became president of the Industrial Association of America that fought against organized labor, and furthered his opinions, by writing The Scarlet Empire, a novel that attacked socialism.
In 1909 Parry founded the Parry Automobile Company that produced its first car in 1910. Although production ceased in 1912, the company was successful while in business. In 1911 the company manufactured 900 cars, a respectable figure for a smaller Indianapolis automobile company.
In other business ventures Parry served as president of the Automobile Insurance Company, Overland Automobile Company, American Manufacturer's Mutual Fire Insurance Company, vice-president of Indianapolis Southern Railroad, chairman of the South Dakota Central Railroad, president of the Indianapolis Board of Trade, and president of the Commercial Club. He was also active socially by helping to found the Columbia, Country, and Marion Clubs. Because of Parry's recognition, many famous people visited his estate including Maude Adams, Albert Beveridge, and William Jennings Bryan.
Four other houses which Parry lived in from 1886-1903 have been demolished. His famous carriage works has been removed as well. The only other existing building in Indianapolis associated with Parry is the Parry Automobile Company Plant at 1138-40 South Division Street. It has been heavily altered. Parry's Golden Hill estate is therefore most representative of his stature and success as an industrialist and businessman. Though no longer extant but nevertheless an intriguing part of the Parry Estate legacy is the Alaskan totem pole located in a small park at the intersection of Totem Lane and Spring Hollow Road. The pole was originally part of an Alaska display at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis of totem poles collected by Governor John Brady. Following the fair all but two poles were returned to Alaska; David Parry received one of these as a gift. The pole remained in Golden Hill until c.1948 when it blew over in a storm and neighbors removed it from the district.
The gatehouse at 36th Street and Totem Lane is also a part of the original Parry Estate. Though significantly enlarged, the original structure and stone wall remains. The gatehouse and wall may be the work of George MacDougall. Because the same type of stonework is seen on the Parry House, it is possible MacDougall and the architect collaborated on both projects.
Though little written information is available on George MacDougall, he did play a prominent role in landscaping several prestigious Indianapolis residences. Among his other work is the original design for the Eli Lilly Estate in Crow's Nest, the Walter Marmon Estate in Brendonwood, the Nicholas H. Noyes Estate on Sunset Lane, the Hugh McKennan Landon Estate at 8140 Spring Mill Road, and the Dr. Albert Cole Estate (later owned by J.K. Lilly, Sr.) in the 5800 block of Sunset Lane. MacDougall also designed the town of Woodstock in 1909.
MacDougall continued his successful landscaping business until the 1929 Depression. He then started working in irrigation systems, primarily for commercial properties. The architecture of Golden Hill is an important part of the district's significance. Several of the city's leading architects designed houses for the area. A partial list includes Frederick Wallick, Pierre & Wright, Burns & James, Foltz, Osier & Thompson, McGuire & Shook, and Mothershead & Fitton.
Frederick Wallick designed at least four houses in the district and remodeled one. Like George MacDougall, Wallick counted among his clients some of the city's wealthiest and most important residents. Outside Golden Hill, Wallick designed Walden, the Frederick K. Ayres Estate in Crow's Nest; Lanesend, the Nicholas H. Noyes Estate in Crow's Nest; the William Ray Adams Residence at 4936 North Meridian; and numerous homes in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. Wallick is also associated with residences in Winter Park, Florida and Muncie, Indiana.
In Golden Hill-Wallick is credited with the designs of 3703 Spring Hollow Road, 3644 Totem Lane, 3744 Spring Hollow Road, 1320 West 36th Street, and the 1928 remodeling of 3650 Spring Hollow Road. While it cannot be confirmed, it is possible Wallick originally designed this property for David Parry. The Indiana Construction Recorder lists Wallick as the architect for four additional properties in the district but it is not possible to identify the houses by address.
Like MacDougall, there is little biographical information on Frederick Wallick. It is known that he maintained his practice in Indianapolis in the Hume-Mansur Building. He retired from his Indianapolis practice in 1939 when he moved to Florida. Wallick died at his Winter Park, Florida home in November 1945.
The firm of Burns and James created 3657 Spring Hollow Road and 1214 Golden Hill Drive, 3620 Totem Lane, and remodeled 1220 Pickwick Place. The firm consisted of Lee Burns, his son David, and Edward James. Both James and Lee Burns attended Butler University. They worked independently of each other but collaborated on several residential projects including the Alien Beck House at 7735 Marsh Road and the Robert P. Knowles House in Traders Point.
Besides living at 3707 Governors Road, Owen Mothershead is responsible for designing at least three houses in Golden Hill in collaboration with his partner, Harry Fitton. Fitton founded the Builders Construction Company that served as the builder for the Golden Hill homes. A 1924 newspaper advertisement features three homes in the area built by Builders Construction. Of the three, only 1210 and 1206 Golden Hill Drive are identifiable. The firm of Pierre & Wright designed the Isabel Parry residence at 1401 Golden Hill Drive. Constructed in 1930, the Tudor Revival house nestles into its wooded, hillside surroundings. The partnership of Edward Pierre and George Caleb Wright lasted from 1925 through 1944. Among their other designs in Marion County are several model homes in Williams Creek, the Indiana State Library and Historical Building, Oxford Gables Apartments (300 East 38th Street), and the Old Trails Building (301-309 West Washington Street).
Each architect or firm contributed to the cohesive design of the area. Contained within the district boundaries are a variety of period revival styles that include Tudor Revival, French Eclectic, Colonial Revival, and Spanish Mission. Those houses built after the period of significance are generally smaller, contemporary adaptations of the 1920s and 1930s styles.
An excellent example of the Tudor Revival style is 3635 Totem Lane. Designed in 1924 by Osier & Burns, this two story house features such typical Tudor Revival elements as flared gables, stucco with applied half timbers, an oriel, and leaded casement windows. Similar examples of the style are also seen at 1401 Golden Hill Drive and 3766 Totem Lane, both of which reflect an abundance of Tudor Revival characteristics.
French Eclectic homes in Golden Hill are virtually indistinguishable from the Tudor Revival designs except for their hipped roofs. None of the examples possess the characteristic turret associated with the French Eclectic style. Instead, the houses have elements such as applied half-timbers, stucco, and wall dormers. Outstanding examples are 1408 Golden Hill Drive, 3663 Spring Hollow Road, 1180 Golden Hill Drive, and 1207 Pickwick Place. Each house is brick with a hipped roof and hipped wall dormers. Although not a turret, 1207 Pickwick Place has a projecting entrance bay.
A variety of Colonial Revival designs highlight the Golden Hill landscape and contribute to the period revival theme of the district. Examples may be found in both brick and frame, but the majority have gabled roofs with returns, pedimented entrances, double-hung sash windows, and shutters. Characteristic examples include 1214 Golden Hill Drive, 1249 Golden Hill Drive, and 3644 Totem Lane. Although there is only one example of the Italian Renaissance style in the district, it is enough of a neighborhood landmark to merit mentioning. Designed in 1930 by Burns & James, 3657 Spring Hollow Road appears stark in comparison to its neighbors. The characteristic stucco facade and tile roof provide the background for small windows of various sizes, a round arch entrance, and elaborated chimney tops with tiled roofs. Patterned after a palazzo in Florence, Italy, the interior features decorative tiles with Italian script.
Not only is Golden Hill similar to North Meridian Street in architecture, its residents often shared common backgrounds. Although perhaps not as visible as North Meridian Street, Golden Hill nonetheless attracted prominent people to reside within its boundaries. The seclusion of the area expressed a conscious desire, on the part of its residents, for privacy. As previously mentioned, internationally-known industrialist, David Parry, established his estate on the property. However equally important and recognizable individuals made Golden Hill their home. Leaders in industry, law, medicine, and manufacturing contributed to the significance of the area. A sampling of past residents reveals the social significance of the area.
George H. A. Clowes resided at 3744 Spring Hollow Road from 1931 until his death in 1958. As a scientist at Eli Lilly & Company, Dr. Clowes was responsible for bringing the technology of insulin production to Indianapolis. Dr. and Mrs. Clowes' son, Alien, is the current owner of the house constructed in 1925.
William A. Atkins occupied the former D.M. Parry Estate from 1928 through 1958. His widow, Eunice, remained owner of the property until 1965. Mr. Atkins served as vice president of E.G. Atkins & Company, a saw works. Additionally, he acted as president of the Severin Hotel Company, Spencer Hotel Company, and Indianapolis Parking Garage, as well as a trustee of Purdue University.
James F. Carroll and his wife, Murielle, lived at 1214 Golden Hill Drive from 1931 to 1963. In addition to being president of Indiana Bell, Mr. Carroll also acted as president of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Another former Chamber of Commerce president, Walter I. Longsworth, lived at 1255 Golden Hill Drive from 1926 to 1959. Longsworth presided over the Lilly Varnish Company. Additionally, he served as director of the Indiana National Bank, Indiana Bell, Indianapolis Power & Light, Indianapolis Paint & Color Company, and the Lilly Varnish Companies of Massachusetts and High Point, North Carolina.
William B. Stokely, chairman of the board of Stokely-Van Camp from 1948 until his death in 1966, lived at 1316 West 36th Street from 1928 through 1934. Another Stokely executive, William A. Miskimen resided at 1401 Golden Hill Drive from 1936 through 1958. While in Indianapolis Mr. Miskimen was vice president in charge of production.
Today, Golden Hill continues to exist as a cohesive, well-maintained neighborhood. The district is completely independent of its surroundings and has not been affected by the decline experienced in nearby neighborhoods. This stability can be attributed to the idea that Golden Hill is defended from outside influences due to the river, park and country club, and because of the way in which houses have changed hands. For many years, houses were not placed on the open real estate market, but rather sold to acquaintances and friends. "Seventy-two percent of the households interviewed in 1983 found their
present residence in this manner." While it is now common to see a realtor's sign in Golden Hill, this does not appear to have affected the stability of the area. The architecture remains as picturesque as when built, and the quality of life much the same as when the neighborhood was planned.
† Adapted from: Suzanne T. Rollins, preservation historian, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Golden Hill Historic District, nomination document, 1990, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
36th Street • 37th Street • Golden Hill Drive • Governors Road • Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard • Pickwick Place • Spring Hollow Road