Reader’s Question: 

I would love to know the history of the Arden neighborhood and the clarification that there was a popular beach along White River.  ~ Ginger Lee Williams, Arden resident

HI’s Answer:

The Arden neighborhood was part of a much larger tract of land, when it was purchased from the federal government in 1834 by James Mustard.  The Pennsylvania-born farmer migrated to Indiana, seeking new opportunities for himself and his growing family.  He was the father of two sons and four daughters by his first wife and five sons by his second wife, eleven children in all.  The Mustards and their descendents were prominent figures in the development of Washington Township, particularly that of Broad Ripple.

1889 map showing the Mustards’ Washington Township property, just north of White River (map courtesy of Alan Hague)  CLICK TO ENLARGE

Following his death in 1841, James Mustard’s land was divided among his children who still resided in Washington Township, primarily to sons William, Jacob, and James.  The younger James Mustard and his wife Almira (Van Scoyoc) Mustard, inherited the portion immediately north of the White River.  In the first few years of the twentieth century, James and Almira Mustard gave some of that land to their daughter, Fannie Mustard, who had married Walter S. Johnson in 1893.

Walter and Fannie Johnson built a home about 2,000 feet north of the White River.  The house overlooked their land to the south, as well as the river beyond.  The Johnson house still stands today, on the north side of East 71st Street, immediately west of the Park Tudor School campus.  However, it is not within the official boundaries of Arden.

About 1910, the Johnsons sold 14 of their acres to the Van Zant family, who built a home on the south side of East 71st Street, across the road from the Johnson home.  Now about 112 years old, this is the oldest home within the official boundaries of the Arden Neighborhood Association.  Although the former Johnson home is older, since it is on the north side of 71st Street,  it is within the boundaries of the Town of Meridian Hills).

The oldest home within the Arden Neighborhood Association boundaries was built on the south side of 71st Street about 1910  (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

In 1922, the Van Zants divided 12 of their acres into building lots, which they called Van Zant’s Subdivision. The same year, the Johnsons divided 112 of their acres into building lots and named their subdivision The Highlands of the Meridian Hills District.  Unfortunately, the lots did not sell well.  By the end of the decade, petitions were filed to vacate both subdivisions.

In 1929, the Arden Realty Corporation created a new subdivision of 280 lots and called it Arden.  However, in the autumn of the same year, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began.  It was nearly a decade before building really picked up again, and only a few homes were built in the new Arden Resub during the 1930s.  One residence that was constructed in the Thirties was the large brick home with a slate roof high on the hill at the southwest corner of E. 70th Street and Washington Boulevard, which resembles homes found on North Meridian Street in the Butler-Tarkington and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods.  It was hoped that this impressive property would set the standard for many other grand homes to be constructed in Arden.  When construction finally did resume, however, the homes were comfortable and well-built, but few were as large.

One of several carved boulders that have been placed around Arden by the homeowners to help identify the neighborhood    (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

Meanwhile, there was quite a bit of activity going on in the Warfleigh neighborhood, which is the neighborhood directly across the river from Arden on the south side of the White River.  Warfleigh had been platted in the first decade of the 1900s, so quite a few homes had already been built in Warfleigh by the time of the country’s economic downturn, three decades later.  Thanks to the Works Project Administration, two significant changes occurred in Warfleigh.  One was that Meridian Street was rerouted to the east, which included the construction of a bridge over White River.  Prior to that time, there was no bridge on North Meridian Street.  In fact, the original Meridian Street simply ended at Riverview Drive.  With the newly built section of road being called Meridian Street, the old portion was renamed Meridian Street West Drive.

The second WPA project that would change the appearance of Warfleigh was the removal of the bathing beach on the south banks of the White River and the creation of a levee to increase flood protection.  Prior to the establishment of the Warfleigh Addition, the land between the Central Canal and the White River was owned by early settler Jonas Huffman and his descendants.  Dating back to the mid- and late 1800s, Huffman’s Grove had been a popular spot “out in the country” for city-dwellers to picnic or camp.  It was located along what became Riverview Drive in the section between College Avenue and Washington Boulevard, once Warfleigh was developed.  Apparently, people continued to use the parklike area and beach for many years after Warfleigh was built, until the levee put an end to that.

Jonas Huffman’s son, James, and his neighbor, Charles Dawson, were also involved in the creation of a bathing beach at Broad Ripple Park.  The photo below is of the beach Huffman and Dawson built at the park (not the beach in Warfleigh), but it provides an idea of how the beach at the north edge of Warfleigh may have appeared.  Broad Ripple Park is just a few blocks south and east of Warfleigh and Arden.

The Broad Ripple Park bathing beach was on White River a short distance east of Arden and Warfleigh neighborhoods (photo courtesy of INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

The Broad Ripple Park bathing beach was located on the White River, a short distance east of the Arden neighborhood  (photo courtesy of INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

With the building of the earthen levee, both the bathing beach and the unobstructed views of the river from the Warfleigh residents’ homes were removed.  In recent years, a new levee project was undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide increased flood protection for the area.  The Warfleigh section of the flood protection plan includes a concrete floodwall on top of the earlier earthen levee.

White River looking south and west from College Avenue towards the former bathing beach that was located in Warfleigh     (photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)

In the 1940s and 1950s, Arden experienced a rebirth, during which time most of the homes that now exist in the neighborhood were built.  Although it’s positioned between two busy north-south arteries, namely Meridian Street and College Avenue, Arden is a quiet neighborhood with little vehicle traffic and much natural beauty.

26 responses to “HI Mailbag: The Arden Neighborhood”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    LOVE these neighborhood stories! Excellent!

  2. Robert Bass says:

    My family built the house at 440 Arden Drive and moved in in 1950. I was in the 5th grade and was bussed to Nora grade school at 86th and Westfield Blvd. In the 6th grade we were bussed to PS 91, and for 7th and 8th grades we went to PS 80 in Broad Ripple (now condos). I rode my bicycle to school and was a traffic boy at 62nd and Guilford to help the little kids across. Maplehurst Dairy Farms store was on the northwest corner, and I had a 4-scoop milkshake most days for 25 cents. This was 1953-54 school year.

  3. Beverly Raffensperger Fauvre says:

    Another excellent story, Sharon. You really do your research. The history of Arden is of particular interest, as both my grandparents and my aunt and uncle lived in Arden. My grandparents Raffensperger built their house at 6845 N. Delaware St. in 1950. I have a family photo of my small family gathered on their new Arden lot in the spring of that year — I helped them break ground. They were sixty-six when they built their one story limestone ranch. It broke my heart when they sold their large three story hillside house at 6161 Sunset Lane, which they had built in the ’30’s, but it was time for them to downsize. We had many good times together in their new house, which they lived in for twenty years.

    My aunt and uncle were already living in Arden when my grandparents built their home on Delaware. They lived at 7021 Warwick Rd. My family always spent Thanksgivings there. They lived on Warwick for over thirty years, so I remember Arden well.

  4. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    FYI, 6845 N. Delaware Street is currently owned by attorney Edward Wesley Harris III and wife Laura. Eddie went to Park School, Class of 1963. Eddie’s sister, Mary Harris (now Dibble), was my Shortridge classmate, Class of 1965. When we were growing up, the Harrises lived on Park Avenue in Johnson’s Woods, next door to Governor Matthew E. Welsh and his wife on one side and banker J. Albert Smith and his wife on the other side. You may remember Eddie and Mary’s mother, Mary “Punch” Harris, who wrote a column in The Indianapolis Star in the ’60s and ’70s, called “Punch Lines.”

  5. Donna Beheler Fink says:

    Very interesting article! It is amazing to me that I spent most of my life in and around this neighborhood, but never knew the rich history of the area. I really enjoy reading your articles, Sharon. Thank you!

  6. Esther Shir says:

    Another fascinating article, Sharon, and the photos are beautiful. Thanks so much!

  7. Ginger Lee Williams says:

    Thank you, Sharon, for the very informative article about my neighborhood. My husband and I have lived in three homes in Arden and have completed two total renovations. As Realtors, we believe Arden is a hidden gem and a great value for homeowners.

  8. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    One of the persons I interviewed for the article was the former owner of your current home. As I’m sure you know, Joe and Helga Caresky were the only owners prior to Tom and you. I tracked down Helga in a retirement community in Lake Worth, Florida, and had a nice chat with her by phone.

  9. Molly Head says:

    Very interesting, Sharon. I’ve seen that White River bathing photo many times (it’s at the Marsh at 62nd and Keystone, for example) and nice to see that you took a new one at more or less the same location, it seems.

  10. Norm Morford says:

    Sharon – Really well done! Do you suppose there would be any money in your taking groups on walks in various areas of our city?

  11. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Thanks, Norm.

    I don’t know the answer to your question. I can’t think of any nonprofit organization or any government agency that would finance such an activity, so it seems as if it would have to be a private, for-profit kind of enterprise. Do you think people would pay to go on a walk? I’m doubtful.

  12. Wanda Jacobs says:

    Sharon, Amazing what you are doing in your research and photographs. Keep up the great work in 2013, and I hope to read a lot more about Indy in the future from you!

  13. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Thanks, Wanda,

    I’ll try to keep the articles as interesting and as informative as possible, especially for those of you Indianapolis folks who now live in other places and enjoy hearing about things back “home.” However, the subjects of my pieces are dictated by the questions sent in to Historic Indianapolis, so I don’t have complete control. Some topics may have wider appeal than others.

  14. Nancy Stout Hutchins says:

    Great read! Our first home was on Warwick Road in Arden. So fun to read about this wonderful neighborhood. Thanks for your work.

  15. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    I remember! David and you were directly across the street from where my stepfather, John Bulger, lived. Your former home was subsequently owned for many years by a city planner, Kathleen Blackham, until she recently moved downtown. Weren’t you a real estate agent with Bulger & Mason for a while? Wasn’t your sister Cathy also a Realtor with the company for a time? My memory is getting fuzzy.

  16. Beverly Fauvre says:

    Dear Sharon —
    Thanks for the information about the current owners of 6845 N. Delaware St., and I do remember “Punch Lines.” I suspect my mother, or David’s, might have known Mary “Punch” Harris.
    Originally there was a screened porch just off the kitchen/breakfast room of 6845 N. Delaware, but in time my grandparents had it enclosed and made into a comfy den and TV room. We spent a lot of time in that room, which had big windows from which you could see their backyard and my grandfather’s flower and vegetable gardens. There was a full basement. In one basement room they had a full sized shuffleboard court painted on the floor. What fun we had playing shuffleboard on cold days and evenings. The front bedroom was their guest room, where I spent many nights. I suspect the house has been remodeled many times since they owned it.

  17. Vicki Kennedy says:

    Thanks for this great article. We live in the oldest Arden home on 71st Street (pictured), having previously lived at 6936 N Park. Having been Arden residents now for the past 27+ years, we truly love this community. We have had many visitors over the years who used to live in this house. A recent visitor who lived here as a child shared a story about a bomb shelter on the property, which we were unaware of. After several days of searching and digging this past summer, we finally unearthed a cement shelter probably built in the 50’s. One has a love/hate relationship with an old house like this one, but we have never regretted our choice. I hope to do a thorough house history and dig up old photos. Your article has inspired me!

  18. Brett Satkamp says:

    We just found your very interesting article on Arden. Well done, and thanks for the information! We feel very fortunate to have found such an amazing enclave in the middle of Indy! We are in our second Arden home, 111 Bow Lane, with our first being 6957 Oak Lane. It is amazing to find so many Arden residents who, like Ginger, have lived in several different homes in the neighborhood. Our current home was built in 1937 (well before many of the houses around us), and we have been interested in finding out more about the home and who built it. Any thoughts on how to do this? Also, any ideas about where to find historic photos of the area (if any exist!)? Thanks so much, and we look forward to more great articles!

  19. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    The first Indianapolis City Directory in which 111 Bow Lane appeared was the 1940 edition. In fact, it was the only house listed on Bow Lane that year. If the house was built in 1937, as you believe, it must have taken a couple of years for it to make it into the directory.
    In 1940, the owners were Donald M. Ream Sr., and his wife Marilla (née Lemaux) Ream. The Reams had a son, Donald M. Jr., and a daughter Anne Ream. The parents and son are all deceased. You can read the son’s 2011 obituary on the IndyStar website:
    The daughter is still living. I would recommend that you try to contact her to see if she can tell you anything about the history of your house. Anne Ream married John G. Pantzer Jr., on November 23, 1957. I am not certain, but I believe Anne lives on Gregg Road, just north of Second Presbyterian Church and just west of Meridian Street.
    If Anne Pantzer is not able to help you, I would suggest that you research subsequent owners and try to find any who are still living (or their children, if the past owners are deceased). The Main Branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library has city directories going back to the 1850s. You can also go to any office of the Indianapolis-Marion County Assessor and research the past owners of your property. However, the Assessor’s records only go back maybe 30 to 40 years. There is an Assessor’s office located at 951 E. 86th Street.

  20. James Hess says:

    Hi Sharon! I found your article about Arden really fascinating — especially since I am descended from Elizabeth, the second wife of James Mustard. They were married in Washington County, PA after the untimely death of Elizabeth’s first husband, John Goble. Elizabeth’s daughter, Eliza Doud Goble, also came to IN from PA as she was only about 5. Do you happen to know where I can learn more about James and Elizabeth Mustard??? You revealed far more about them in the “Arden” article than I could have ever found on my own! Thank you very much in advance!

  21. Virginia Mills says:

    Hi! Cool site. Do you have research on the Mills family of Decatur Twp? How can I search your articles?

  22. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Hi Virginia- please enter key words into the search bar on the right hand side of the site. Happy hunting!

  23. Bobbie Kibbey says:

    Wonderful article!..thank you!
    We are preparing to move into our second Arden home in February. My uncle lived on Warwick in the 50’s and 60’s, and we purchased Dr Bennett Kraft’s home in the 80’s when our sons were students at Park Tudor. Dr Kraft built the home at 7025 Washington Blvd, and I believe the architects were Burns&James. I still have the original blueprints somewhere in storage. We sold our home when my husband’s career path took us out of the city and years later, we returned here to retire. So now we’ll be back in Arden …it seems the places where you raise your family (no matter how long you’re gone or far away you go) will always be your home.

  24. Anonymous says:


  25. Cindy (Refkin) Lemery says:

    Great article on the Arden Neighborhood. I grew up living at 7033 Washington Boulevard and my best friend lived in the oldest home pictured on 71st Street. I spent alot of time at my friend’s home on 71st and loved that house. I can even draw a picture of the inside (of course, now it does not have the old boiler system with radiators). We even had a city bus pick us up in front of our Washington Boulevard home to go to School #80. My friend and I used to visit Dr. Kraft in his home just two doors down from where I lived. So many memories growing up in the most wonderful neighborhood. Thank you for writing about it.

  26. Elizabeth Berman says:

    Hi Sharon. I realize it’s been almost a decade since you wrote this article, but I was delighted to find it. I am Dr. Bennett Kraft’s daughter and grew up in the house at 7025 Washington Blvd. My father continued to live in the house until the late 1970s so my daughters. now in their 50s, have fond memories of it as well. In August 2019, my granddaughter and her husband drove me down from Chicago so that I could show them significant places from my childhood. The present owner of the house graciously allowed us to visit, and I was particularly thrilled to find the screened in porch just I remembered it! I have a framed drawing of the house that my father commissioned before he sold it in a prominent spot, and it brings back many fond memories of my years in Arden.

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