After their successes, three of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Frank Wheeler, Carl Fisher, and James Allison, built mansions next to each other along Cold Springs Road. Wheeler and Allison built new homes, while Fisher modified and expanded an existing house. All three were located on what is now Marian University’s campus.

Fisher’s mansion was partially destroyed by a fire in the 1950s, and while there are portions of the mansion and outbuildings that still stand, very well-preserved, they are hard to discern among the campus buildings (which is an elaborate way of saying that I didn’t get photos).

Allison’s 1914 mansion and estate were bought by Marian College in 1937, and the house was the college’s primary building until 1949. The estate landscape designed by Jens Jenson to the north of the mansion is now the university’s EcoLab, and the mansion itself is used for receptions and other purposes.


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Various views of the front of James Allison’s mansion

Frank Wheeler’s mansion was built slightly earlier than Allison’s, from 1911-1914. In constrast to Allison’s Jensen-landscaped estate, Wheeler had more formal landscaping that included a manmade pond (with Venetian gondola), gazebo, tennis courts, and Japanese teahouse and gardens. In 1927, the estate passed to Monty Williams, the then CEO of Marmon Motor Company, who changed the landscaping by removing the pond and installing a pool. William Stokely, of Stokely-Van Camp, bought the estate in 1937, and lived there until Marian bought it in 1963 for their music department. Due to his longevity in the house, the place is now referred to as the Stokely mansion. The house is now used for receptions, conferences and other uses.


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The back of the Stokely mansion; the colonade that led to a 7-car garage.

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The other backside of the mansion. The Japanese garden and teahouse.

Thanks to Marian University for preserving these architectural treasures.

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