(Apr. 19, 1872-Jan. 8, 1957). Born in Bloomfield, Indiana, Burns graduated from Butler University and, as a young man, worked for the Bowen-Merrill Company (later known as Bobbs-Merrill Co.). During the Spanish-American War, he served in the 158th Indiana Infantry. Though not formally trained in architecture, in 1910 he founded Burns Realty Company specializing in the design and construction of fine country and townhomes.

Architectural drawing of a residential home.
Walter and Annie Marmon residence architectural drawing, southeast elevation, 1929 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1926 Burns formed an architecture firm with Edward D. James (see Burns and James). Utilizing traditional designs, Burns and James were responsible for many of Indianapolis’ far northside homes, including several homes in the North Meridian Street Historic District.

In 1929 the Indiana Society of Architects awarded the firm a gold medal for excellence in residential design. In 1949 the two men dissolved their partnership and Burns teamed with his son David V. Burns in a new architecture firm, Burns and Burns. The father-son partnership continued to design in traditional styles but shifted its emphasis to public structures. Among their Indianapolis works are several buildings at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and many Indianapolis Parks Department buildings.

The house is a large, shingled, two-story, traditional with an arch-roofed portico at the entrance. It has dark shutters, a peaked roof with three gables and a chimney at each end. There is a covered side porch.
Lee Burns’ home at 4205 Washington Boulevard, 1913 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Burns was active in Indianapolis civic affairs and wrote a number of books on Indiana history: The National Road In Indiana (1919), Indianapolis—The Old Town And The New (1923), Life In Old Vincennes (1929), and Early Architects And Builders Of Indiana (1935). He also served for many years on the executive committee of the Indiana Historical Society and was a member of the federal commission that built the George Rogers Clark Memorial at Vincennes, Indiana. He was one of the founders of the Players Club and a director of the John Herron Art Institute.

Revised February 2021

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