A Legacy of Learning

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Spring brings so many things we look forward to every year: the first of the daffodils and tulips, new leaves pushing through dead wood, end of the school year concerts and parades, prom, final final exams . . . and high school graduation. Today, our newest billboard went up at the corner of 16th and Delaware -- a giant welcome to Spring and a tribute to our graduating seniors past and present.  These schools have and are impacting our neighborhood today:

The Indianapolis Classical School for Girls -- May Wright Sewall originally moved to Indianapolis to teach at Indianapolis High School. In the 1880s, she became the founder and first principal of the Indianapolis Classical School for Girls, located at the corner of Pennsylvania and St. Joseph.  Sewall was a charter member of two other still-running Indianapolis organizations: the Propylaeum and the Contemporary Club, and in 1883, gathered a group of women in her home to draw up plans for the first Art Association of Indianapolis (the forerunner of the Herron School of Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art). When a local real estate investor named John Herron left $225,000 in his will for an art school, it was Sewall who took the lead in creating the Herron School of Art and purchasing its original building at Pennsylvania and 16th streets (the current home of Herron High School). After starting the Equal Suffrage Society of Indianapolis, which initially met in secret at her home, Sewall joined Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women around the country who were also working on women's rights, and became chairwoman of the National Women's Suffrage Association and president of the National Council of Women of the United States.

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Tudor Hall School for Girls -- Artist Kyle Ragsdale painted May Wright Sewall leading a line of women in long white dresses, who pay homage to another historic neighborhood school. In 1902, Miss Fredonia Allen and Reverend James Cumming Smith (former pastor of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, where a thriving congregation still worships in the original building in the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood), founded Tudor Hall School for Girls at the corner of 16th and Meridian Streets in the Herron Morton neighborhood. In 1903, the school graduated its first class of nine young women.  The girls processed down the aisles of the First Presbyterian Church, at the corner of 16th and Delaware (current home of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Harrison Center for the Arts) wearing long white dresses and carrying 18 red roses. Tudor Hall merged with Park School for boys in 1970, becoming Park Tudor School, eventually relocating to its present home at 72nd and College. To this day, graduating Park Tudor girls wear long white dresses and carry 18 red roses.


These schools and their founders are still impacting this neighborhood today. Following the legacy of May Wright Sewall, the King Park neighborhoods are currently home to two highly ranked classical schools: elementary school, The Oaks Academy (located at 23rd and Park in Fall Creek Place) and Herron High School. When May Wright Sewall helped to cast the vision for the building where Herron High School is located, she wanted to grow appreciation for the arts in Indianapolis and to see equality for all people. With national reputations for academic excellence, these schools have managed to embody these values as well. This year, the Oaks Academy will graduate its 12th class of eighth graders and Herron High School its sixth class of seniors. We congratulate all of our Indianapolis high school seniors and look forward to seeing what visions you push for the future of our city.  You have a great legacy.

Information for this post was gathered from the following sites: indianahistory.org, thepropylaeum.org, parktudor.org, indystar.com, imamuseum.org