Since 1986, Indiana Humanities has operated out of the Meredith Nicholson House at 1500 N. Delaware St. in Indianapolis’s Old Northside neighborhood. Local architect Herbert Foltz designed the house for prominent Indiana author Meredith Nicholson and his wife Eugenie, and in late 1903 the Nicholson family moved in. Nicholson wrote his best-selling book The House of a Thousand Candles in the third-floor study, and today the house has taken on the book’s title as a moniker.
The house, purportedly the first Colonial/Georgian Revival home in Indianapolis, made an immediate impression, and in the years since it has continued to draw attention for its beauty and style. In a 1920 House Beautiful article, architect Anton Scherrer (whose father designed the Indiana statehouse) called it one of the three best houses in the city, noting that “its lines are calm, and its general tone is dignified and serene. Formal as it is, it has an air of graciousness. I never pass it but I am grateful for the well-disciplined battalion of its second-story windows.” More recently, architectural historian James Glass named it one of the best examples of Georgian Revival architecture in the state of Indiana.
The Nicholsons sold the house in late 1920 to the family of Carl A. Taylor, who used it as a private residence. Then in the early 1930s Mary Keller purchased it and christened it Meredith Manor. For the next few decades she operated it as a boarding/apartment house, and for several years her son-in-law also operated a doctor’s office from the site. Indiana Landmarks, a statewide preservation organization, bought the deteriorating house in 1978, extensively rehabilitated the exterior and sold it to Bob Beckmann, a well-known figure in Indianapolis’s civic and arts communities. Beckmann restored the interior and lived in the house for seven years before selling it to Indiana Humanities. From our home today, Indiana Humanities develops and implements award-winning programs with the goal of encouraging Hoosiers to think, read and talk. At 10,000 square feet, the house also offers office space for tenants and meeting rooms for the public, which enhances its role as a vital community center.