Summer in Woodruff

It is nearly impossible to think about the warmer seasons in Woodruff Place without evoking images of sparkling fountains and lush greenery.

Debbie Pidgeon recently shared some relevant information that came as a surprise to me. It turns out I have unintentionally committed offences against our fountains numerous times. Despite my embarrassment I thought I would share a few “fun facts” about two of the most treasured characteristics of Summer in Woodruff Place.

“A team of neighbors keep the fountains operational and put a lot of effort into making them beautiful for all to see. The fountains are not treated or protected areas for swimming or playing, and it’s against the law to get into the fountains. Unfortunately, broken glass has been found in fountains before.”

Whether you have been tempted to wade into the fountains or encouraged a little one to do so, you can now rest assured that such activity is, in fact, illegal and potentially dangerous. All the more reason to make friends with certain neighbors who have pools.

While we are all aware that the beautiful state of our neighborhood is no accident, I thought it would be interesting to share these facts about our trees and the expensive and laborious efforts made to ensure the lushness lives on.

According to Debbie Pidgeon, 146 trees were planted in Woodruff Place between 2007-2010 in collaboration with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

2007: 40 on Cross Drive
2008: 31 on Middle Drive
2009: 21 on East Drive and 27 on West Drive
2010: 27 on East Drive alley/Tecumseh St.

Ash tree treatment
“In 2013 the Historic Woodruff Place Foundation and the Civic League Board launched a years-long effort to protect the neighborhood’s large Ash Trees from the Emerald Ash Borer – an aggressive invasive insect that has decimated Ash Tree populations throughout the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada. To date 52 trees in the common areas of Woodruff Place have been saved but their survival depends from a continued commitment to retreat them every two years for the next 8 to 10 years. The cost of the most recent treatment cycle (2017) was nearly $8,500.”

There you have it – a few more  examples of the intention behind the timeless Woodruff Aesthetic we all love. For more information about how you can contribute to the endless beautification efforts take a look at

Casino Woodruff 2018

The Historic Woodruff Place Foundation held a successful “Casino Night” fundraiser in February. What started many years ago as a friendly Bingo Night to cure the Winter doldrums, has evolved into a Woodruff Casino that rivals the Bellagio! Some say our fountains are better. Neighbors and friends bought chips, gambled, imbibed, and used their winnings to bid on silent auction items. If you missed it this year, the theme was Mardi Gras. Everyone left with beads, and they got to keep their clothes on. Cajun style food and drinks were served, and many participants dressed in colorful Mardi Gras outfits.

We’d like to thank all the mostly downtown businesses who supported us with gift certificates and other goodies for the silent auction. Special shout out to MacNivens, Mass Ave Pub, and The Cosmic Chrome Café for their significant donations.

Woodruff Casino is part of our biennial fundraising efforts for our non-profit foundation. This year, our other major fundraiser will be the Progressive Dinner in December. We alternate Woodruff Casino and Progressive Dinner with the Home Tour every other year. Stay tuned for our next Casino Night in early 2020!

Long-term Planning

A few years ago, several volunteers began the process of creating a 10 year strategic plan for Woodruff Place. This first-of-its kind plan for the new millenia set the course for infrastructure investments that eventually became some of the guiding ideas for our Economic Improvement District (EID). Leaders identified investment budgets for our five primary historic infrastructure assets: Town Hall, 10th Street Fence, Statues & Urns, Fountains and Streetlights. The estimated total for this work was set at $832,900 by 2023.

Looking back at the goals established in that plan and marking each major achievement along the way is mirroring the larger revitalization process throughout the Near Eastside. Woodruff Place is but a single neighborhood of the 18 or so neighborhoods that make up what is known as the Near Eastside. The borders stretch from the interstate 65/70 interchange on the west, the railroad tracks on the south side of Washington Street, Emerson to the east and interstate 70 to the north. That’s a large area with a population of about 30,000 residents. In the time since the early strategic plan, the Near Eastside Quality of Life plan, which lead to the Indianapolis Super Bowl Legacy Project, Near Eastsiders have been witness to a dramatic improvement in many areas in a relatively short amount of time. However, just like our own aged infrastructure and investments in Woodruff Place, there is still a lot more work to do in the greater neighborhood.

Just now we are starting to see investment from outside the community. Where I used to have my car serviced is turning into one of the most anticipated restaurants in the city. What used to be a massive eye sore (CCIC building), on the verge of falling down, is now Centerpoint Brewery and a maker space and lots of independently owned shops. There’s a protected bike lane on Michigan and on New York. The Mayfair building (next to Burger King on 10th Street) doesn’t have holes in the walls and is on its way to being a new brew pub. Near East Area Renewal recently completed their 100th home renovation in St. Clair Place. One of our IPS schools, Thomas Gregg Elementary, once on the verge of takeover candidacy, is now an innovation school. It’s still part of the IPS system but run independently by Near Eastside community leaders. The federal IndyEast Promise Zone has delivered on its designation, securing over $120m in grant awards for the area in a little over two years.

Every resident who has lived here for the past 5-10 years can see the fruit of this labor and it has created a great deal of excitement around the future. But it’s not a distant future anymore. That future vision identified in plans is right there, on the horizon – but the work isn’t finished. There is room at the table for so many volunteers and so many more projects. There is opportunity for private/public partnership, as we’re seeing with some of the multifamily residential projects going on all around us. There may be an opportunity with the former IREF site in the coming years. The work is not done on the Near Eastside and the work is not done in Woodruff Place. It’s a great time to be here and I can’t imagine myself, or my family, anywhere else.

Woodruff Place Yarners

Originally to be named “ Nasty Women Yarning – Indy”, founder Valerie DeWeese decided to make room for men, though none have taken her up on the offer yet. The group meets every other Tuesday from 6:30-8:00pm at 967 East Drive. Bring your favorite yarn and a project and be ready to chat with some of the neighborhood’s favorite nasty women. Pictured left to right: Valerie DeWeese, Julie Tornquist, Theo Tornquist, Debbie Pidgeon, and Jean Hayes.