Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Village of Zionsville

Just northwest of Indianapolis lies the quaint and quiet "village" of Zionsville.  Zionsville is one of the few towns in the US that has preserved it's brick main street.

Shops line the brick street offering a variety that can fit any shopping mood from upscale, unique fashion to rare vintage antiques.  Fine restaurants and quaint cafes are nestled among over 50 shops making Zionsville a great destination.

Surrounding the village area are historic homes dating back to the 19th century. Peaceful, tree-lined streets, open green areas and gazebos are a great reminder of a quieter time still revered by Zionsville residents.

In the early 1820's settlers pushed northward, following the waterways and trails into Eagle Creek valley looking for land where they could put down roots.  By 1850 Eagle Village was a thriving community on Michigan Road which was a stagecoach route.

In 1849, promotion was begun for a railroad between Indianapolis and Lafayette.  One of the promoters was William Zion.  Zion convinced property owners Elijah and Mary Cross to build a town on their 80 acres. The 3 became partners in the project.  When choosing a name, Mary declined the offer of naming it after her, so the honor went to William Zion who neither owned land or ever lived in Zionsville.

Residents, merchants and tradespeople hastily moved to the new community, often bringing their houses or shops with them.

Zionsville reputation as a cultural center began in the late 19th century when B.F. Clark opened a hall with a stage over his Main Street store where noted orators and entertainers appeared.  Among those who graced the stage in the early days were Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton and James Whitcomb Riley.

An outdoor venue was opened in 1891 as Zion park where Eagle Lower Elementary stands today.  It even included a lake, Lake Como, where pleasure boats were available and a baseball diamond.

The Big Four Railroad relocated its tracks in 1921 and that rail bed now forms the Nancy Burton Memorial Trail.

In the late 1920's, the dahlia was being discussed on street corners because of the 2 professional growers - the Tudors and Fred Gresh.  Both produced prize winning blossoms that drew admirers to the community. In 1933 Gresh received a Gold Medal at the Chicago World Fair for outstanding flower of the year that he christened Zions pride.

Zionsville has continued to add amenities such as the P.H. Sullivan Museum, Munce Art Center and a new and improved library.  A strong business community, led by a vibrant Chamber, well run town government and excellent schools make Zionsville a community worth a short visit or a lifetime.

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