Ben Davis is located about six miles west of Monument Circle. The community is bounded by Rockville Road to the north, Minnesota Street to the south, I-465 to the east, and the CSX Railway (west of Girl School Road) to the west. The Ben Davis Village Alliance has represented the community since 2017. 

The foreground shows a large stretch of water with people in a canoe on it. A long, low white building is in the background.
Krannert Park in Ben Davis, 1974 Credit: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library View Source

In the 1870s the community now known as Ben Davis was a small hamlet alongside the Vandalia Railroad. Local entrepreneurs petitioned the railroad superintendent, Benjamin Davis, for a station. In 1877, residents built a loading platform at Davis’ suggestion and then named it for him. Two years later, John Pierson was authorized to build a regular railroad station.

The community suffered setbacks, including a tornado in October 1911, that damaged many of the town’s 100 homes and a December 1968, fire that destroyed several businesses in the old section of Ben Davis. Despite a fire and location changes, the Mt. Olive Methodist Church, founded in 1870, retains its status as the oldest organization in the community.

Interior shot of three players on a basketball court.
Byron Harris (34) of Ben Davis High School vs. Lawrence North High School, 1980s Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1922, Ben Davis High School became the first consolidated high school in Indiana. In 1950, with an enrollment of 1,265, it was the largest township high school in the U.S. Known for its academic, technical, and extracurricular programs, the high school is another area landmark, though the current school is located some 2 1/2 miles north of the community proper.

Ben Davis was never incorporated as a town; the only public buildings were Wayne Township schools. When sewers were mandated in the 1950s the Indiana General Assembly permitted the formation of a special taxing unit, the Ben Davis Conservancy District. Under Unigov in 1970, the area became a part of the City of Indianapolis.

Revised February 2021

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