Hidden Indy: the Four Winds Estate, now a private residence tucked into a suburban neighborhood of impressive homes.
8140 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis Now parceled and parsed out for the purpose of building what most of us would consider to be mansions in their own right, the historic Indianapolis estate once called Four Winds, held onto its expansive grounds north of Indianapolis for decades before relenting to subdivision. The property was businessman and philanthropist Hugh McKennon Landon’s second country estate within the boundaries of Marion County, located about four miles north of his other, better-known estate, Oldfields (now part of the property owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art).
Hugh McKennan Landon was born on 22 June 1867 in Iowa. He married Suzette Merrill Davis on 22 November 1892. Mrs. Landon died in December 1918. Hugh Landon remarried on 10 April 1920 to Jessie (Spalding) Walker.
The couple built Four Winds Estate in 1933 using Pierre and Wright, a locally renowned architectural firm, established in 1925 by partners Edward D. Pierre and George Caleb Wright. The firm (a predecessor of Vonnegut, Wright & Yeager) was responsible for many landmarks in Indianapolis, and a number have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Notable other Indianapolis works include:
- Indianapolis Public School #7
- Indianapolis Public School #78
- Williams Creek Estates
- Oxford Gables Apartments
- Tuckaway Country Club
- Sears Roebuck Building
- Indiana State Library and Historical Building
- Milo Stuart Memorial Building, Arsenal Technical High School
- Old Trails office building
- The Ma-Co Market
Landon died in 1947 and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery. Soon after, the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart bought most of the property and renamed the mansion Alverna, adding facilities and operating the site as a retreat center until 1990. Notably, it was during this time that John Michael Talbot—one of the preeminent Catholic musicians in the world with more than fifty albums to his name, built a hermitage in the Alverna woods, where he spent the winter of 1978–79 to study and pray in seclusion.
Later, Resort Condominiums International (RCI) bought the Alverna property from the Franciscans and restored the mansion as the focal point of a luxury housing development, Alverna Estates, developed in the 1990s. The property was used as the Decorator’s Show House in 1992 and is now a private residence.
What are your recollections of the Four Winds/Alverna? Share with us in the comments section!