Late in 1966, William J. Mead and John A. Roberts, along with Carl Weinhardt, a director of theand later of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (renamed in 2017), founded the Penrod Society to help fund the building of a new museum, which had become necessary after the lost its accreditation in 1964. The society derives its name and style from Schofield, the main character in several stories by Indianapolis novelist .
Board chairman of the Art Association,explored attaching the museum to Indiana University (IU). , a member of the family that founded , however, died in May 1966, and his children, in October of that same year, gave their parents’ estate Oldfields to the to be used as the site of the new museum. The Herron School of Art separated from the Association and the museum and became part of IU.
Shortly, thereafter, Mead, Roberts, and Weinhardt, along with 19 other men founded the society. On September 9, 1967, theheld its first art fair at the main house at Oldfields (known in 2020 as Lilly House), which had just opened to the public in July as the Lilly Pavilion of Decorative Arts. Proceeds from the society’s first fair, “An Afternoon at Oldfields,” helped construct the Indianapolis Museum of Art on the estate property. The Art Association was renamed the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1969, several months before the new building opened in October 1970.
Since 1967, the Penrod Art Fair has become an Indianapolis tradition. It continues to be held on the Saturday after Labor Day on the grounds of Newfields. The fair has become the Penrod Society’s signature event to enhance public awareness of and showcase the arts. It features hundreds of artists, local cuisine, family activities, and performance stages showcasing live entertainment. The event is the Penrod Society’s largest fundraiser and is one of the largestheld annually in the city.
The Penrod Society is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to support arts, cultural, and educational activities and institutions in Central Indiana. For over 50 years, The Penrod Society has distributed to the Central Indiana community over $5 million in proceeds from the Penrod Art Fair and, most recently, Evening with Penrod at the Newfields. The Penrod Society also helped create theand the . The society cohosted “Magic in the Making” together with the Stutz Artists Association in 2018 and 2019 (see ). The Penrod Society in 2020 donated proceeds of $214,000 to 67 Central Indiana arts and cultural organizations.