Butler University Irvington Campus 1875-1928

Butler University, founded in 1855 as North Western Christian University, was located in Irvington from 1875-1928. The name was changed in 1877 to honor Indianapolis attorney and abolitionist Ovid Butler who was the university’s founder and benefactor. Most of the Butler buildings were razed prior to World War II and the Irvington campus site became a residential neighborhood.

The Bona Thompson Memorial Center is a 1903 Neo-Classical Revival building designed by architect Jesse T. Johnson of Dupont & Johnson. It was Butler University’s library and it is the last remaining building of the former Irvington campus. A donation from Edward & Mary Thompson funded the construction of this building in memory of their daughter, Bona, who died shortly after her 1897 graduation from Butler. In addition to serving as Butler’s library, the building was a branch of the Indianapolis Public Library system from 1903-14. 

After Butler relocated to the Indianapolis northside in 1928, the library was part of the adjacent complex known as the Missions Building which served as the national and international Headquarters of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) until 1995.  The Butler library building was renovated by the Irvington Historical Society in 2000 and now serves as  the society’s headquarters and a community arts and cultural center.

Learn more at the Bona! Plan your visit today.