University Park

Historic Plaza

University Park occupies the block just south of the Indiana War Memorial. The area was originally set aside by the Indiana Legislature in 1821 for a state university, which was never built. From 1833, the block housed the Marion County Seminary, a subscription school which was replaced in the mid-1850s with the city's first high school. This building was torn down in 1860. During the Civil War, the ground was used for drilling Union troops. Following the war, the citizens of Indianapolis established a fund to develop the land into a park.

VISITOR INFORMATION

  • locate

    @ Meridian & New York
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

  • hours

    OPEN YEAR ROUND

  • cost

    Free Admission
    Open to Public

Depew Fountain

Depew Fountain

The centerpiece of University Park is Depew Fountain, a memorial to Indianapolis physician Dr. Richard Johnson Depew from his wife. The granite foundation is surrounded by a circular plaza with stone benches. The initial design by Karl Bitter was completed by Alexander Stirling Calder after Bitter's unexpected death in 1917. Bronze sculptures on the fountain include jumping fish and eight life-sized figures of dancing children holding hands. The pinnacle features a cheerful dancing woman in classical toga with a cymbal in each hand. Two small bronze sculptures flank the fountain: a Wood Nymph and Pan. Myra Reynolds Richards designed the originals in 1923. Both sculptures are now replicas due to theft of the originals over the years.

Statues

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison

The Benjamin Harrison statue honors the Indianapolis resident who became the 23rd President of the United States (1889-1893). Prior to his presidency, Harrison commanded the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during the American Civil War. He then served as U.S. Senator from Indiana before being elected President. The statue is bronze and the remaining portions are limestone. The plaza and bench were designed by Henry Bacon, and the statue by Charles Niehaus. It was unveiled in 1908.

Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax

Toward the center of the park is the Schuyler Colfax statue. Colfax, an Indiana native, was Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant after the Civil War. Designed by Lorado Taft in 1887, it was the first statue to be placed in the park, originally at the southwest corner. The pedestal features many symbols of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Colfax wrote the organization's "Rebekah Creed," adopted in September 1851, which made the I.O.O.F. the first national fraternal organization to allow female members. Colfax is dressed in both an overcoat and a Prince Albert coat. The statue was moved to its present location in 1919.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

At the southeast corner of the park is Henry Hering's statue of Abraham Lincoln. In 1901, Henry Long's estate left $10,000 with instructions that it be used to create a statue of Lincoln. Mr. Long also stipulated where the statue was to be located. Placed in a trust, the funds were ignored until the early 1930s when work finally began. President Lincoln is cast in bronze, seated in a chair, his right hand raised in a gesture of peace, with his head bent slightly forward. He is dressed in a morning coat and is sitting on his shawl, which is draped over the chair. By adding details such as Lincoln's watch chain, stovepipe hat, and gloves, Hering gave the sculpture a touch of realism.