History of Noblesville's Historic Districts
When William Conner and Josiah Polk platted the town of Noblesville in 1823, they probably had little idea that it would grow in the way it has. Areas that were planned for business became housing and even cemeteries. Farms that were then beyond the city limits became a part of downtown. Factories brought prosperity into the community, but also forced demographic shifts. New roads and bridges altered the flow of traffic, turning quit neighborhoods into major thoroughfares.
Looking at Noblesville today, a person can often see how these changes flowed back and forth. With some knowledge about the historic eras and building styles, patterns become apparent. Federal and Greek Revival buildings are in the oldest sections of town – particularly along 8th Street, which was the main road in town for Noblesville’s first century. Queen Anne and Italianate style homes grandly line streets like Conner and Logan, where they were built by citizens made wealthy by the discovery of natural gas in 1887. The “outskirts” of central city have the newer homes – built for factory workers at the turn of the century or as a part of the post-World War II housing boom.
As population and social activity has increased through the years, the city has grown outward from its central core. Despite a drop during the first half of the 20th century, the city population in 2000 had grown to be almost equal to the population of the entire county in 1900. This growth, and socio-economic changes that it brought, have created a map of Noblesville that is as clear as anything drawn by a surveyor.
There have been discussions about historic preservation in Noblesville since the 1870s. However, most of the successful preservation projects have occurred since the creation of the Hamilton County Historical Society in the 1960s and the Noblesville Preservation Alliance in the 1980s. The city presently has eight buildings and four historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Zones of Significance were created as a way of establishing what resources were available for historic preservation. They are meant to be a tool for education and have no legal meaning with regard to historic districts. The Zones were established according to the general age and styles of the buildings within them. Most follow a natural pattern of community growth.
It is hoped that city residents will view the Zones as a starting point for creating historic districts of their own. If the homeowners want to keep the historic tone of their neighborhood, the Zones will help them identify what time period the buildings should generally reflect. In the end, the goal of this project is to encourage more involvement in historic preservation.