Community Heights is a neighborhood bounded by 21st Street to the north, 10th Street to the south, Arlington Avenue to the east, and Emerson Avenue to the west. Most of the area was once farmland owned by John Ellenberger, whose home still stands at 10th Street and Layman Avenue. Ellenberger died in 1917, and the land was divided among his children. Residential development began in the 1920s at the intersection of Emerson Avenue and 10th Street. Justus Contracting Company built most of the homes in Community Heights in the 1940s and 1950s. Guy Justus, a German immigrant living on the eastside, founded the company.

People are standing around a display table set up on a grassy outdoor area.
Eastside Community Organization September Festival, 2007 Credit: Indiana University Indianapolis View Source

The neighborhood is named after Community Hospital East (see Community Health Network ), located at the intersection of 16th Street and Ritter Avenue. The hospital was funded through a grassroots funding campaign and broke ground in 1954. Lutherwood, a home for children experiencing abuse or neglect, is another major institution in the neighborhood. German Lutherans from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran had constructed an orphanage at 3310 E. Washington Street in 1886. In 1953, they completed Lutherwood at the intersection of Ritter Avenue and 16th Street. The organization begun by those German Lutheran congregations is now called Lutheran Child and Family Services.

Several churches are located in Community Heights. Arlington Heights Baptist Church was built at 16th Street and Audubon Road in 1955. Ellenberger United Church of Christ was built in 1947, when St. Paul’s United Church of Christ moved from the Hillside neighborhood at 17th Street and Columbia Avenue. As of 2021, the congregation had sold the building and was meeting in a hotel in Beech Grove. Judah Life Destiny Church, an African American congregation, held services in the former United Church of Christ Building. Ritter Avenue Free Methodist Church, founded in 1954, is located just north of Community Heights.

When first developed, Community Heights was home mostly to white Europeans, many of them Irish or German immigrants or recent descendants from immigrants. Even in 2019, an estimated 500 people of German ancestry and 300 people of Irish ancestry lived in Community Heights, representing a combined 15 percent of the population. But Community Heights is growing increasingly diverse. While in 2010, 81 percent of residents were white, in 2019 white residents made up 49 percent of the population. Black residents represented 42 percent of the population, Latino residents made up 6 percent, and 2 percent of the population was Asian.

Revised July 2021

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