(Feb. 7, 1804-June 14, 1885). Born in 1804, in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, William Tinsley came from a family of builders and stonemasons. He designed many buildings in his native land and immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1851. Within two years, he submitted plans in a contest to design the building for North Western Christian University (later Butler University) in Indianapolis. After he won the $100 contest prize in 1853 (around $3,361 in 2020), he moved to the Indiana capital. Tinsley later designed Center Hall at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Ascension Hall at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, as well as other buildings in Indiana and elsewhere. He also did some work for Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

William Tinsley designed Christ Church Cathedral, constructed in 1859 on Monument Circle.
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

Tinsley’s most famous Indianapolis edifice is the Christ Church Cathedral, constructed in 1859. English Country Gothic in style, this stone church, located at North Meridian Street and Monument Circle, has a cruciform floor plan. Its spire was completed in 1869.

In 1857, after his second wife’s death, Tinsley returned to Cincinnati where he continued his career, helping to design that city’s open-air Plaza. He went into semiretirement in 1874 at the age of 70. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised March 2021

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