Bettering the Bona

Keeping Irvington's History Alive

Irvington Historical Society's 2023-2024 campaign

the bona's history

The Irvington Historical Society has made its home in the Bona Thompson Center for the last twenty years. Now that we own the building, we plan to update, improve and enhance our historic facility. 

In 1964, the Irvington Historical Society (IHS) was organized to preserve and share the values upon which the community was founded. The Irvington Historical Society’s commitment to retaining Irvington’s heritage starts with the name on our building: Bona Thompson Memorial. It is one of few buildings left in Indianapolis built before 1945 named for a woman. This reminds us of the initial pledge of Butler University: to serve all equally regardless of gender, race, or creed. Because Irvington included an international missionary center until 1995, the society’s membership has always been diverse. Our members have worked and raised their families here, drawn in by Irvington’s unique and inclusive heritage.

our goals for 2023-2024

climate control

The Bona’s heating system is antiquated and failing.  We have constant repairs. The units are costly and cannot keep up with the summer heat or winter cold.  New units will be more energy and budget efficient. It will keep our guests and volunteers more comfortable and safeguard our Irvington-related art and artifacts collection.

Estimated cost: $90,000

Bona Annex Gallery

An early vision was for the Bona to be a community resource. To realize that commitment we need to increase our usable space.  We have identified an underutilized area that would make a pleasant public gallery and gathering room. It needs steep ramps and surplus equipment removed to make it accessible to all. We are naming this space “the Bona Annex Gallery”.   The size of the space will be approximately 33’ long x 20’ wide x 17’ high. 

Estimated cost: $70,000

Greater Irvington Exhibit

Create a new exhibit that captures the essence of Irvington.  This exhibit will be called “Greater Irvington”.  Its design will be based on input from our extended community. The finished product will engage the viewer and visually represent why this community is so loved by Irvington residents past and present.  The content will revolve around the vision of a community and celebrate 150 years of Irvington’s history.

Estimated cost: $90,000

Want to help, but can't afford any of the set categories? Visit our Go Fund Me page and name your own support level!
Donate to Better the Bona
Make a donation to the Better the Bona Campaign

Here is how YOU can help to Better the Bona!

Thanks to all of the people and businesses who have contributed to our Better the Bona Campaign.  We have matched our Angel’s gift of $100,000, and have raised enough to begin the critical work to Better the Bona!   Here is what we have been able to complete so far, and what is left to do: 

Work Completed  

  • Replace front doors, $11,474
  • Convert lighting to LEDs, $6,233
  • Replace UV  window filters, $20,647 
  • Remove two dead trees, $3,500
  • Install plywood walkways, lights & attic ladder, $4,455
  • Install Ring Doorbell , $200

Work Still to be Done

  • Replace leaking flat roofs, $25,000
  • Replace climate control system, $150,000
  • Raise Annex floor to meet code, $13,000
  • Replace water heater, $6,000
  • Relocate  Annex water & gas lines , $6,500
  • Paint and repair building windows, $1,800
  • Install key access to Annex doors, $1,000
  • Design new Irvington exhibit, $90,000
New Front Doors
Relamping with LEDs
Recoating windows with UV filters
New Attic Ladder
New attic walkways
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If there is money available, here is what else we need:

  • Repair damaged floor, $3,000
  • Purchase electric stove, $600
  • Replace refrigerator, $1,500
  • Paint the galleries, $5,000
  • Repair exterior brickwork, $2,000
  • Electrostatically paint elevator, $5,000
Watt a Difference
Watt a difference you can make with $1000
Sponsor a Gallery
Ask us about how you can sponsor a gallery

How You Can Help

Sigma Gamma Rho thanking volunteers

Your membership supports our rotating exhibits on Irvington art and history, as well as permanent displays on Butler’s Irvington campus, the old Irvington business district, Howe High School, Kin Hubbard & Abe Martin, International Harvester, the Ghouls of Irvington and the West Baden Angels.

We are an all-volunteer organization. If you are seeking more involvement with your community, we can offer our volunteers a wide variety of duties.

An endowment through the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) supports the future of the Irvington Historical Society, the Bona Thompson Center, and its efforts to preserve the historical artifacts of greater Irvington.

The kickoff celebrated Paul & Peggy Diebold’s 2021 Irvington Founder’s Award and reflected their desire to create something which would provide some future stability for the Society and the Bona Thompson.

Charitable planned gifts offer you the opportunity to combine valuable financial support to the Irvington Historical Society with your financial, tax or estate planning goals. Let us know that you are interested in making a planned gift.  

We welcome all forms of planned giving including:

  • Direct Bequests
  • Stocks
  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Plans
  • Charitable Gift Annuities

Since 1964, the Irvington Historical Society has received over 20,000 items.  Our collection filled and out grew each of its physical locations. And it continues to grow!  From Victorian toys to tea cups. From documents to diaper covers. From photographs to paintings.  From manufacturing molds to mowers, Irvington memorabilia is kept and preserved in the Archives of the Irvington Historical Society.

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