Cottage Home, Indianapolis Homes for Sale
Cottage Home Historic District is located just east of downtown, in the 700 block of Dorman St. and 1100 block of East and Clair Sts. The neighborhood takes its name from the many Victorian, cottage-style homes built between 1870 and 1900. It's a fun community well known for its annual fall Block Party and bi-annual Home & Garden Tour.
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The community is dominated by "worker housing," typified by spindlework porches, turned posts, gable ornaments, variegated and fishscale shingling, and gingerbread trim. Landowners began building here in the 1860s, shortly after the Bellefontaine Railroad built repair shops nearby. Later, the Indianapolis Street Railway built a trolley barn in the neighborhood, providing jobs for operators, conductors, and mechanics, as did veneer and furniture factories on Dorman St., and a flour mill on Highland Ave.
Frederick Ruskaup built a successful (brick) grocery store at 713-715 Dorman in 1875. His earnings from that and several rental properties he owned enabled him to hire well-known architects Vonnegut & Bohn to design a series of two-story shotgun doubles at 702-716 Dorman. Recent owners have restored several of these doubles, which feature hip roofs and full-width porches with lathe-turned posts. In 1890, Ruskaup again hired Vonnegut & Bohn to design his Queen Anne/German Renaissance Revival home at 711 Dorman.
The area was originally part of two large farms owned by (Governor) Noah Noble and Robert Hanna. When the railroad reached Indianapolis in 1847, the city's boundaries pushed out beyond the "Mile Square." The farms were annexed to the City of Indianapolis in 1870.
Among early residents of the neighborhood was Louisa Magruder, daughter of Tom Magruder, the slave of Gov. Noble who is said to be the inspiration for the timeless classic, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
The Dorman Street Saloon has served for years as a popular neighborhood meeting place and watering hole. Originally built as a house in the early 1870s, the corner building served as a grocery store before being converted to a bar in the late 1910s. It's since been known as Anacker's 9th Street Tavern, The Mahogany Bar, and May's Lounge. A popular rumor claims that infamous criminal John Dillinger frequented the saloon while preparing for his heist of the Massachusetts Avenue State Bank.
Today, some of the original brick sidewalks and limestone curbs still line the streets of Cottage Home, and are cherished by the neighborhood as important features of the historic district. Brick sidewalks remain on portions of Highland Avenue and Dorman Street, including in front of the Ruskaup-Ratcliffe house and store, while limestone curbs can still be found on portions of Highland Avenue, Dorman Street, Stillwell Street, and Oriental Street.