Historic Washington Park • Meridian~Kessler
/// NEWS FLASH ///
New IHPC Administrator Named
The City of Indianapolis has named Meg Purnsely administrator...
The Summer 2017 issue of MKNA Spark magazine incorrectly stated the...
  • Apr 14, 2016
  • Editor
  • Comments Off on FAQs – Exploring IHPC Designation

FAQs – Exploring IHPC Designation


Version 4.0 – March 28, 2016

What is a local historic preservation area?

A local historic area is a group of structures or area that is protected by design review and local law after it is deemed historically and architecturally significant to a city’s cultural fabric. Local historic areas can include downtown commercial districts, main streets, and residential neighborhoods.Local historic area designation is a method to provide real protection for historic resources. Most often, communities use local historic area designation as a tool to help protect the historic character of buildings, streetscapes, and neighborhoods and prevent unregulated and insensitive alterations to historic properties, while encouraging positive development and change.

Why is the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association (MKNA) Board exploring local historic area designation?

Understanding that positive change and development is beneficial to Meridian-Kessler’s neighborhoods, the Board supports those property owners, developers, contractors, and investors who want to construct new homes or remodel, update, and adapt houses to meet today’s living styles. Such investment is a vital element in the positive evolution of our neighborhoods and is critical to attracting and retaining families and businesses in Meridian-Kessler. However, the MKNA Board increasingly hears concerns from Meridian-Kessler property owners regarding the demolition of homes, new construction, and/or extensive home remodeling that may be inconsistent with the look and feel (i.e. character and context) of surrounding Meridian-Kessler homes and neighborhoods. As a result, the MKNA Board is exploring ways to work with all its constituents, including property owners, builders, realtors and businesses, to find ways to work together to encourage positive growth and development that is consistent with and sympathetic to Meridian-Kessler’s established homes and built environment. One such tool may be local historic area designation through the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC).

Who is exploring local historic area protection for Washington Park?

Several Washington Park residents, with support from the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association (MKNA), are exploring potential local historic area protection for Washington Park. The MKNA Board created a Historic Preservation Stewardship Committee (HPSC), which develops and supports efforts to protect Meridian-Kessler’s historic character. Kim Kourany, a Washington Park resident, is chairing this committee. She and other Washington Park and Meridian-Kessler residents established the Washington Park Exploratory Committee (WPEC) as a subcommittee of the HPSC. MKNA also hired a planning consultant, with significant experience with local historic areas, to serve on the committee. The WPEC is managing the exploratory process, which includes raising awareness about historic areas, surveying property owners, evaluating responses and reporting results to all stakeholders, per the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission’s designation process. The WPEC meets once a week and is comprised of six people: Marvin Vollmer, Bret Waller, Mary Owens, Jerrey Finnegan, Kim Kourany and Deb Kunce, with CORE Planning Strategies. The IHPC Preservation Planner, Christopher Myers, helps facilitate this committee.

Why explore local historic area designation for Washington Park?

Areas eligible for local historic area designation must exhibit both historic and architectural significance. Arguably, the vast majority, of Meridian-Kessler may qualify. However, Meridian-Kessler in its entirety is a large area with more than 5,500 homes. Because Washington Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, its historic and architectural significance is already documented and approved. In addition, with fewer than 110 homes, Washington Park is a more manageable size for the property owners taking on this grassroots effort, and if Washington Park becomes an IHPC historic area, it will also be more manageable for IHPC staff.

I thought Washington Park was already a historic district. Why pursue IHPC local historic area designation?

Washington Park is a federally-designated historic district and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. While certainly prestigious, this federal designation is primarily honorary in nature and provides little-to-no protection from insensitive property alterations, new construction, or even demolition. Real protection for historic resources is administered at the local government level, not state or federal level. Because National Register designation offers no real protection, the MKNA Board is exploring local historic area designation as a potential tool to help protect the neighborhood.

National Register of Historic Places


  •   Give a property prestige and publicity
  •   Sometimes provide protection relative to federally funded projects
  •   Permit the use of investment tax credits for some certified rehabilitation projects
  •   Allow some property owners to apply for federal grants-in-aid if applicable


  •  Prevent private owners from altering or even demolishing their property
  •  Restrict the use or sale of the property
  •  Establish certain times that the property must be open to the public
The IHPC does not restrict the sale of property or establish times that the property must be open to the public. The IHPC does provide design review for proposed alterations within a neighborhood that may affect the character of a locally designated district.What are the considered boundaries for Washington Park?In its National Register nomination, Washington Park established its boundaries as the west side of Pennsylvania Street to the west side of Central Avenue, between the north side of 40th Street and the south side of 43rd Street. The Washington Park local historic area boundaries would mirror the boundaries outlined in the nomination.

What is the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC)?

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) is a nine-member board appointed by 7 districts throughout Indianapolis-Marion County. The Indiana State Legislature created the IHPC when they enacted State Statute IC 36-7-11.1 in 1967 and charged the IHPC with preserving the character and fabric of historically significant areas and structures for all present and future citizens in Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana.

Is the IHPC different from the Meridian Street Preservation Commission (MSPC)?

Yes. They are two separately established entities. Boundaries and information about the Meridian Street Preservation Commission is available at http://www.meridianstreetfoundation.net/mspchome.html.

What is the process for becoming a local historic preservation area?

Becoming an IHPC local historic area is a collaborative grassroots effort. This process starts with property owners establishing a need and the desire to protect the neighborhood’s historic assets and overall character. Once they document that need and desire, they present their case to the IHPC. If the IHPC agrees with their assessment, property owners outline a plan to actively engage all property owners and other stakeholders. This plan helps ensure all stakeholders work collaboratively to develop a preservation plan that is beneficial to all.

The process for becoming an IHPC historic area is outlined in the diagrams below. These diagrams were adapted from the official IHPC flowcharts to illustrate the approved methodology for Washington Park.

20150619_Phased Designation Process20150619_Phased Designation Process.p2

Are there other IHPC historic areas in Indianapolis?

Yes. The IHPC provides protection to 17 areas in Indianapolis-Marion County, including:
  •   Chatham-Arch & Massachusetts Avenue
  •   Cottage Home
  •   Cumberland
  •   Fayette Street
  •   Fletcher Place
  •   Fountain Square
  •   Herron-Morton Place
  •   Irvington
  •   Lockefield Gardens
  •   Lockerbie Square
  •   Monument Circle
  •   New Augusta
  •   Old Northside
  •   Ransom Place
  •   St. Joseph
  •  Wholesale District
  •   Woodruff Place

Links to historic area preservation plans are available at:


Does local historic area designation impact the interior of my home?

Typically, no. State statute authorizes the IHPC to designate interiors for design review. However, the IHPC has not designated interiors in any of its (currently) 17 districts. It has designated the interiors of two out of its eleven individually designated properties: Union Station, and Hilbert Circle Theater. The IHPC only reviews the categories of work that are included in the related historic area preservation plan.

See FAQs – Design of IHPC Plans for additional information.