Brownsburg is in Hendricks County, approximately 17 miles west of Indianapolis. 

North Green Street at Railroad Street facing southeast in Brownsburg, 2016.
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

James B. Brown settled in Brown Township in 1824, which was named for him. As Brownsburg’s first settler, he found a dense and unbroken wilderness with only hunters and trappers in the area. Delaware Indians lived in what later became Lincoln Township, along White Lick Creek, which was then called “Wa-pe-ke-way” or “White Salt.” The creek, a tributary of White River, flows north to south through town, just west of the town center.

In 1828, the first log schoolhouse was built in Brown Township. More settlers arrived once a stagecoach line was established along a road built in 1820 connecting the outlying communities to Indianapolis. William Harris settled in the area north of what became Main Street, selling sections of woods to incoming pioneers which gave the town its original name of Harrisburg in 1835. After the establishment of a post office in 1836, it became clear that the name of Harrisburg was already used by another Indiana post office, thus the town’s name officially changed to Brownsburg.

Old Schoolhouse, Brownsburg, Indiana, ca. 1900
Credit: Brownsburg Then and Now/Brownsburg Public Library Archives

Brownsburg tripled in size from 1840 to 1870, increasing from 6 to 16 acres. The first church building erected was a log structure in 1840. The town’s first election occurred in 1848, with a total of 10 white males casting votes.

In 1869, the Big Four Railroad opened service to Brownsburg. By 1910, the Interurban made daily trips between Indianapolis and Crawfordsville with scheduled hourly stops in Brownsburg.

Brownsburg school, ca. 1908
Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society

In 1917, Superintendent of Schools Sylvester Moore and his wife played an instrumental role in forming Brownsburg’s first public library, a Carnegie Corporation-funded library. Later, the building later served as the Brownsburg Police Department headquarters. (In 2020 the former Carnegie library served as the home for the Hendricks County Solid Waste Management District.) The first two-story schoolhouse was built in 1917, its gymnasium was featured in the 1986 feature film Hoosiers. The first high school was erected in the late 1950s, as was the first shopping area, established on the eastern edge of Brownsburg.

Between 1850 and 1950, Brownsburg’s population increased by approximately 1,400 residents for a total of 1,578 in 1950. The first and greatest (by percentage) growth spurt for Brownsburg was during the economic boom of the 1950s, when the population increased from 1,578 residents in 1950 to 4,478 by 1960 (183 percent). Population growth remained steady from 1960 to 1990. The town has grown 150 percent since 1990 driven in part due to its proximity to downtown Indianapolis, the airport, and Eagle Creek Park.

Brownsburg Feed Store and Service Station, ca. 1940
Credit: Brownsburg Then and Now/Brownsburg Public Library Archives

Brownsburg boasts one of the top school districts in Indiana which has accelerated home construction. Area students attend Brownsburg Community Schools. The district includes an early childhood learning center, seven elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school, and the Alternative Learning Center.

The Brownsburg Town Council voted on July 21, 2011 to annex 2,200 acres, including the 267-acre Indianapolis Raceway Park which lay in Clermont. More than two-thirds of the top NHRA teams are based in Brownsburg. The largest industries in Brownsburg were in health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing. In the late 2010s, Brownsburg saw historic levels of investment, which included mixed-use development in the downtown area, new and expanded commercial and retail options in commercial corridors, expanded schools, and the opening of the 110,000 square-foot Hendricks Regional Health Brownsburg Hospital in January 2018.

Cars line up for the finals during the NHRA Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway, 2021
Credit: Michelle Pemberton, IndyStar

Brownsburg residents elect a town council of five members to serve as the legislative branch. The members serve in four-year staggered terms, with authority to adopt ordinances and resolutions, purchase, hold, and transfer property, and adopt a budget.

Revised May 2021

Is this your community?

Do you have photos or stories?

Contribute to this page by emailing us your suggestions.