A Brief History of Butler University
On November 1, 1855, Butler was opened and was originally known
as the North Western Christian University. The original location of
the school was 13th Street and College Avenue on the near-northside
of Indianapolis at the eastern edge of the present "Old Northside
Historic District" on land provided by attorney and university
founder Ovid Butler.
In 1930, Butler merged with the Teacher's College of
Indianapolis, founded by Eliza Blaker, creating the university's
second college. The third college, the College of Business
Administration, was established in 1937, and the College of
Pharmacy and Health Sciences was established in 1945, following a
merger that absorbed the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy. The
Jordan College of Fine Arts, the university's fifth college, was
established in 1951, following a merger with the Arthur Jordan
Conservatory of Music. Butler's School of Religion, established in
1924, became independent in 1958 and is currently known as the
Christian Theological Seminary.
In 1875, the university, renamed for Ovid Butler "in recognition
of Ovid Butler's inspirational vision, determined leadership, and
financial support," moved to a 25-acre campus in Irvington, IN. The
campus consisted of several buildings, including an observatory,
most of which were demolished in 1939. The Bona Thompson Library at
the intersection of Downey and University avenues, designed by
architects Dupont and Johnson, is the only remaining building,
although several buildings that housed faculty still remain, such
as the Benton House.
Enrollment at Butler increased following the end of World War I,
prompting the administration to examine the need for a larger
campus. The new campus, designed in-part by noted architect George
Sheridan, was formed on the site of Fairview Park, a former
amusement park on the city's northwest side.
Classes began on the 290 acres campus in 1928.
Butler University: A Sesquicentennial History by
Professor George "Mac" Waller