Skip to content

Early Saint John’s in Indianapolis

       I ran across an article from the blog of the Indiana State Library. It showed how the staff there had digitized one of the earliest maps of Indianapolis. The map was from 1852, some 18 years after the establishment of the Diocese of Vincennes and very early in the establishment of the Church in the city of Indianapolis.

What caught my eye was the “Legend” of the map which showed two locations marked “Catholic”:

Legend from the 1852 map of Indianapolis.

Notice the legend shows two letters, “U” and “V”, with the letter “V” indicating this was Holy Cross Church, which was the forerunner of the current St. John the Evangelist Church. Here is that portion of the map which shows it near Washington St., which is now the area of the Eiteljorg Museum. That would have been the correct location, however, the name, “Holy Cross” was changed in 1850 to St. John. The map, which is dated 1852 may be showing the original location of the church, which, as above, was on Washington Street.

Original Location of Holy Cross Church

The other location is on Georgia Street:

This location is somewhat of a mystery, but only in the sense of the “exact” location. The map shows the location at being on Lot 11. Obviously, the location on the map wasn’t an exact science.

1852 map

In “The Story of Old St. John” it says:

“That the church was built on Lot 8, the mid-lot of the property bought in 1846, accords with the tradition that the church stood on the spot where Bishop Chatard’s residence now stands (1883)” 1

Here is a clipping that appeared indicating this. It comes from the Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, 7 May 1853. The online copy is blurred, so let me write out the text. It says

Catholic Church on Georgia Street between Tennessee and Illinois streets. Rev. Mr. Maloney pastor. Services at 10:1/2 o’clock A.M.

You can view the entire map of the city here.


  1. Horan, Sr. Rose Angela. The Story of Old St. John’s: A Parish Rooted in Pioneer Indianapolis. Indianapolis, IN: St. John the Evangelist Church, 1971. p.56[]

Categories: Postings.

Tags: , , ,

Comment Feed

No Responses (yet)

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.