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Ransom Place neighborhood touts rich history of Indy's Black community

The Ransom Place neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 for its significance in the legacy of the African American community.

INDIANAPOLIS — Our tour with Sampson Levingston of Through2Eyes included walking the streets of Ransom Place, a historic neighborhood approximately six blocks near the IUPUI campus northwest of Monument Circle.

The area with row homes, Queen Anne cottages with front porches, and street parking is one of the most intact 19th century neighborhoods associated with African Americans in the city. It's boarded by West 10th, West and St. Clair streets, and Camp Avenue.  

The neighborhood, which was first established in 1897, is named after Freeman Ransom, an attorney for Madame C.J. Walker and her company. Walker is touted as the first female self-made millionaire, who made and sold hair care products for the Black community.

The Ransom family moved to the area in 1910 and owned two houses on California Street, 828 and 824.

In its heyday, Ransom Place had a church, a general store and was an easy walk to Crispus Attacks High School. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 for its significance in the legacy of the African American community.

As we walked down the sidewalks, Sampson pointed out the original limestone curbs, an outhouse, and an old campaign sticker for Birch Bayh Jr. who served as U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1963 to 1981. The sign is still on the side of the former neighborhood store and is covered in white paint.

Sampson said as he has toured the area, he's met some of the original families who still own property there. Some of the homes are updated and provide a convenient location to downtown, Eskenazi Health, Methodist Hospital, and the IUPUI campus.

Thank you, Sampson, for helping me learn about the history of this neighborhood that is just blocks away from my work home WTHR!

This was just one stop on WTHR's Black history tour of Indianapolis. Tour guide Sampson Levingston led our anchor team around the city to teach them about the many historic sites that played integral roles in Indianapolis' Black community. Follow along through the month of February to learn about them. Click here to see the other tour stops.

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