About the house

Since 1986, the Indiana Humanities office has been located in the Meredith Nicholson House, a historic home in the Old Northside neighborhood of Indianapolis. Named for the original builder, an Indiana author most famous for his novel The House of a Thousand Candles (which he wrote while living in the house on 1500 North Delaware Street), the house was built in 1903-1904 and is believed to be the first Georgian/Colonial Revival style home in Indianapolis.

When the house was built, the Old Northside was home to some of Indianapolis’ most prominent citizens. Now, the active neighborhood includes residents, nonprofits and businesses that have a profound interest in protecting the quality and aesthetic character of this historic district.

Since Nicholson sold the house in 1923, a variety of families and businesses have called it home, including: the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music, a doctor’s office, a restaurant (Meredith Manor Dining Room) and an apartment building. Bob Beckmann, Jr., purchased the house from the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indianapolis (now Indiana Landmarks) in 1979 and extensively refurbished the property before Indiana Humanities acquired it.

Today, the house is an active humanities hub, welcoming other nonprofits in for meetings and discussions, hosting lectures and conversations, and opening its doors for humanities-inspired programming.

Meredith Nicholson House ca. 2009
Meredith Nicholson House ca. 2009
Meredith Nicholson House ca. 1905
Meredith Nicholson House ca. 1905
About the author

Nicholson was born in 1866 in Crawfordsville, and moved to Indianapolis at age five. Except for three years in Denver and 10 years in diplomatic service, he spent most of his life in Indianapolis, where he died December 20, 1947, at age 81. A high school dropout, Nicholson was largely self-educated, fluent in Latin, Greek, French and Italian. He worked at odd jobs– as a drug store clerk, a gofer in a print shop, and as a law clerk, which led him to study law briefly.

Abandoning a law career, he worked as a reporter at the Indianapolis News for 12 years. During his literary career, he wrote approximately 30 books, plays and essays before retiring from writing in 1929 to pursue a career in diplomatic service. A staunch Democrat, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. A year later he was transferred to Venezuela and, in 1938, to Nicaragua. Nicholson returned to Indianapolis in 1941 and lived in retirement at the Indianapolis Athletic Club until his death.

Nicholson would likely enjoy the state of the house now. He was a great believer in community service, a man of letters, who was happiest when he was in his native state of Indiana. Nicholson often said that the key to success is to stick close to home. In one of his better-known works, The Hoosiers, Nicholson commented on the social and cultural history of Indiana. In 1941, the Indianapolis Times reported that he loved to reminisce, allowing listeners the opportunity to live through his era.