Willard Park Neighborhood is a neighborhood organization bounded by Michigan Street to the north, railroad tracks just beyond Washington Street to the south, the alley between Jefferson Avenue and Beville Avenue to the east, and State Avenue to the west. This organization was registered in 2015.

The neighborhood takes its name from the founder of the Indiana School for the Deaf, William Willard  established his first school for the deaf in the area in 1843. The Indiana General Assembly transformed Willard’s school into a state-funded institution in January 1844. The school later added a residential campus. Though the school closed in 1907, the campus it left behind laid the groundwork for the neighborhood that continued to grow around it.

The city purchased the property to transform it into a park, and landscape architect George E. Kessler included Willard Park in his 1909 plan for the Indianapolis Boulevard and Park System. Construction on Willard Park began in 1913. Tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a football field, and a crushed stone walkway were added to Willard Park in 1916. A swimming pool and picnic shelter followed in the 1930s. A new bathhouse was erected to serve the park in 1982. In 1990, the neighborhood became home to a fire station and the city’s Metropolitan Emergency Communications headquarters. The playground was rebuilt in 1996. 

Following a 2001 IndyParks masterplan, numerous improvements, including basketball courts, a modern aquatics center, a family activities center, and a walking trail were made to the park. In 2022, a new 13,000-square-foot skatepark opened in Willard Park, the first skatepark built in Indianapolis in over 20 years.

Other parks located in the area, include Commons Park and the Willard Park Green Corridor. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Willard Park of Holy Cross-Westminster Civic Alliance,  and the Riley Area Development Corporation collaborated to create the pocket park between 257 N. Randolph Street and 252 N. Parkview Avenue.

Willard Park consists of 6 census tracts. Few minorities live in the area. Almost 85 percent of residents are white, with 55 percent of those being between 20-59 years of age. There is an almost even split between the percentage of men to women. An impressive 100 percent of homes are occupied, with 41 percent renter-occupied and 59 percent owner-occupied. A little more than half the neighborhood residents have not finished high school. Thomas Carr Howe High School is the Indianapolis Public School that serves the neighborhood students. The closest public library is Indianapolis Public Library No. 6, almost 2 miles from Willard Park. Known as the Spades Park Library, it is a historic Carnegie library built in 1911-12.

Revised July 2021

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