A Century of Irvington Homes Sept. 17

It’s 1917 and the U.S. is just getting involved in the War to End all Wars. Russia is undergoing a revolution. The average price for a home was $5,000 (about $111,584 in today’s money), but the average American made about 22 cents an hour. And Irvington? It was a growing community on the eastern outskirts of Indianapolis, home to Butler University, and developing a reputation for being the place to live.
This year, the Benton House Tour of Homes is inviting tour-goers to explore a century of Irvington living through homes large and small — from homes that have been in the family for decades, to renovated gems occupied by a new generation of Irvingtonians. Now in its 44th year, the tour showcases the diversity of Irvington’s homes, as well as the people who are proud to call themselves Irvingtonians. Held Sept. 17 from noon-5 p.m., visitors can go into some amazing homes, plus see Irvington landmarks like the Benton House, 312 S. Downey Ave. and the Bona Thompson Memorial Center, 5350 E. University Ave. The tour attracts people from all over central Indiana who love old homes, history, and great neighborhoods.
The Maplewood Court Co-Op at 37 S. Johnson is celebrating its 100th birthday by showing four units which have been remade and decorated to suit the current owners. Irvingtonians pride themselves on doing things their way, so it will come as no surprise that these four 100 year old apartments are all unique.
Just up the way a bit, the Audubon Court apartment on the tour, 5703 E. Washington St., Apt. #24, highlights contemporary artists working in a 100-plus year old renovated space steps away from the thriving commercial district.
Not quite 100 years old, the Wilson home at 303 N. Irvington Ave. has a rich history which the current owners respect and work to preserve. The Buyarski and Trivers home at 5882 E. Pleasant Run Parkway N. is also not yet 100, but is a wonderful example of an older home that has retained its charm over the decades.
The Richardson home at 477 N. Audubon has been in the family for decades, lovingly maintained by Donn’s mother and father, and now his family.
However, the years aren’t always kind to houses, and sometimes neglect takes its toll. But houses sometimes get second chances, like the Weiler home at 55 N. Sheridan. After years of terrible neglect, a new owner saw potential in an eyesore, and worked to transform it into the beauty it is today.
The word “charming” is over-used in real estate, but it fits the Taylor home at 329 N. Ritter. Built in 1900, a wing was added over a hundred years later, and the house is a great people-watching perch for the owners who can wave to neighbors using the Pennsy Trail between Ellenberger and downtown Irvington. Speaking of adding on, the Garriott home at 51 S. Ritter was built in 1881, and an addition built 125 years later, because you can’t have too much of a good thing.
The Benton House Tour will also feature two Irvington gems, the Kile Oak at 5939 Beechwood Ave. and the Wilson Parker Pioneer Cemetery, 5120 Julian Ave. The Kile Oak is estimated to be 300-400 years old with an enormous spread. The grounds are a nature preserve cared for the Irvington Historical Society and the Irvington Historic Landmarks Foundation, and  lovingly tended to by the Irvington Gardden Club. It is a place of serenity in the midst of a bustling world. The Pioneer Cemetery was the first cemetery in Irvington, with the first burials in the 1820s. Irvington Historical Landmarks worked to restore the cemetery, which was nearly lost, and was rededicated in 2015.
Visitors on the tour can also participate in a Scavenger Hunt to win a Jockamo pizza gift card. It will feature a favorite vignette from each tour stop this year, and visitors have to match the photo to the correct tour stop. Pick up an entry form (one per person) at any of the numbered stops on the tour; when completed, leave it at one of the stops.
The tour will also feature a Classic Car Show at the Benton House. There is no entry fee — cars must arrive no later than 11:30 a.m. and be on the grounds durinng the tour until 5 p.m. There will be awards, which will given at 4 p.m. Contact Andrew Mankus at bentonhousecarshow@gmail.com for more information.