Carving Out a Community Space: Herron-Morton Neighborhood
Between the mid-1970s and late 1980s, the Herron-Morton Neighborhood located between Talbott Street and 22nd Street, was a center of the LGBT+ community in Indianapolis. The Herron-Morton neighborhood takes its name from the John Herron School of Art, originally located on 16th Street, and Camp Morton, a prisoner-of-war camp established during the Civil War. The neighborhood, then known as Talbott Village, developed in the 1880s.
In its prime, between 1890 and 1930, the area was home to nationally known artists, mayors, governors, and business tycoons. As a result of suburbanization and the demolition that went along with urban renewal, the neighborhood deteriorated by 1970 and about one-third of original residences were lost to fire, neglect, or demolition. Talbott Village gained a reputation for crime and drugs, but also as a refuge for Indianapolis’ bohemian and counter culture communities.
In cities such as Providence, New York City, Charleston, and San Francisco, gay men have been credited with preservation and gentrification efforts. Indianapolis’ oral tradition upholds that gay men, rehabbing the large Queen-Anne style homes just off the main arteries near Talbott Street, accomplished much of the early preservation efforts. By the mid-1980s, a large number of LGBT+ people lived, socialized, and did business in this up and coming area.
By 1981, two of the city’s largest LGBT+ clubs, Talbott Street Disco and the 21st Club, opened in the vicinity. On a given Saturday evening in the mid-1980s, hundreds of people would flock to the area. These social spaces spurred other retail businesses, on the 21st and 22nd blocks of Talbott Street. Particularly significant was The General Store, which owner Tony DiNinno called his “own little niche in the gay community,” selling records, greeting cards, clothing items, artwork, magazines, “all of interest to the gay consumer.”
For more information on the history of the neighborhood, check out the Camp Morton page here on Discover Indiana!