Morris-Butler House History
The Morris-Butler House, a brick Second-Empire residence in the Old Northside neighborhood, takes its name from the two families who once lived there. In 1864, John Morris, the son of an Indianapolis settler, commissioned the construction of this house on land once owned and platted by Ovid Butler, the founder of Butler University.
Morris was one of the first downtown residents to move to the new suburb north of downtown, but he was certainly not the last. What we now call the Old Northside quickly became the most fashionable place to live in Indianapolis. The Morris family occupied the house from 1865 to 1878, when they moved to Woodruff Place.
Noble Butler, a renowned bankruptcy lawyer, moved into the house three years later with his wife and seven young children. Members of the Butler family occupied the house until Florence Butler, Noble’s youngest daughter, died January 7, 1957.
By the time Florence Butler died, the socio-economic characteristics of the Old Northside had drastically changed. The majority of residents were low-income renters, and most of the buildings in the neighborhood, including the Morris-Butler House, suffered from neglect. Florence Butler’s survivors took the items they wanted from the house and disposed of the remaining contents in an estate auction.
For a short time the house served as an art gallery before Indiana Landmarks bought the house in 1964 and restored and furnished it with funds provided by Eli Lilly. Five years later Indiana Landmarks opened the Morris-Butler House as a museum.