In 1835, what today is known as Fountain Square began with the purchase of a 264-acre farm plat by Calvin Fletcher and Nicholas McCarty. The earliest settlement was sparse and primarily residential with substantial settlement and rapid commercial growth occurring in the area beginning in the 1870s. German and German-American merchants helped establish much of the character of Fountain Square.
The Virginia Avenue corridor began to emerge as the south side’s commercial center as early as the 1860s. Up until the mid twentieth century, Fountain Square continued to experience growth. Additionally, it became a key point in the local theater heritage of Indianapolis.
Around the middle of the twentieth century, the neighborhood began to see the effects of sprawl and began to experience a major decline. The construction of the interstate furthered the neighborhood’s decline during the 1970s, creating a division in the neighborhood and cutting it off from downtown. New development to the south furthered the exit of commercial business and residents.
Today, however, the neighborhood is experiencing reinvestment and new growth. Fountain Square has now become a neighborhood with local restaurants, art galleries, artists’ studios, and a destination for live entertainment. The growth continues with the promise of new businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues, the new leg of the cultural trail, and so on. Today is an exciting time to be a part of the neighborhood and to be a part of this reinvestment.