Muncie is unique in that if you are inside the city limits, you are more than likely in a neighborhood. Unlike other cities, which have one or more historic neighborhoods surrounding a downtown, Muncie is a city of neighborhoods. It has been said that its current map was devised through public comment and at the hand of the City of Muncie’s Community Development Department in the 1960’s. That the small size of the westside neighborhoods are due to their historic plats and covenants, many of which still held some power, and the vastness of Southside was due to a brother and sister that lived on opposite ends that expressed a desire to live in the same neighborhood.
Click here to view the map of Muncie’s current neighborhoods.
Practice makes perfect, as the old adage goes. But why hospitality? What does it mean to be hospitable?
Hospitality is extending a welcome to another and it is a basic act of kindness. When we are hospitable we are creating an environment that makes others feel relaxed and at ease.
Think of a time that you felt welcomed into another’s home or at an event. What made you feel that way? Did the host greet you individually with a smile? Did they introduce you to others so that you could build connections? What was the environment like? Was there food and drink and comfortable places to sit that invited conversation?
Being hospitable is extending welcome and is an important part of being a good neighbor. Everyone wants to feel like they belong – in their workplace, in their social sphere, and in their home.
How can you make your neighbors feel that they are an important part of the neighborhood? Here are a few suggestions:
Invite them to attend a neighborhood meeting or gathering like a picnic, ice cream social, or ultimate Frisbee game.
Find out what foods they enjoy and treat them to fresh baked Naan, chocolate chip cookies, or sopapilla.
Get to know them! Find out the names of their children, pets, and family members and what they enjoy doing.
Host a dinner party and invite several neighbors to help build connections.
Building better neighborhoods is the work of all of us and an easy way to start is by extending a welcome to your neighbors.
Have you ever wondered why a certain house in your neighborhood is built of brick and set far off the road while all of the surrounding homes are wood-sided and closer to the road? Or are there sidewalks that flow from street to street and then suddenly stop? Is there a grouping of old commercial-style buildings that don’t seem to fit into the otherwise residential vibe of the neighborhood?
Muncie was first platted in 1827, incorporated as a town in 1854, and became an incorporated city in 1865. However, the area was first settled in the 1770s by the Lenape (Delaware) people, who had been transported from their tribal land in the Mid-Atlantic region. In 1876, natural gas was discovered in Indiana, and the gas boom reached Muncie in 1886.
Muncie attracted new businesses and industries, and its population grew over the next 100 years. What would eventually become Ball State University, the Eastern Indiana Normal School opened in 1899, only to shut its doors after two years of operation. The Ball Brothers eventually bought the buildings and land and donated them to the State of Indiana, which set up operations in 1918 for the Indiana State Normal School, Eastern Division. The school was renamed Ball Teachers College in 1922, Ball State Teachers College in 1929, and Ball State University in 1965.
Muncie’s growth is tied to its industrial past, as well as to the establishment of Ball State University. You can discover more about the physical development of the city by reviewing archival Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, which were produced by the Sanborn Map Company to assist fire insurance agents in determining risk and the cost of premiums. Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository has 200 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Muncie dating from 1883 through 1911.
Additionally, many of Muncie’s neighborhoods developed covenants and restrictions as they were platted by developers. Original plats and their corresponding covenants and restrictions can be found in the Delaware County Recorders office, but several have been digitized and are available online. Many of the original subdivisions included restrictions on non-white residency, which is discussed in a Star Press article written by Bryan Preston in 2018. Several neighborhoods, including Westridge, Ludingwood, and Kenmore, have legally removed the race-based restrictions from their original covenants, language made formally illegal by the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Learning more about the history of your neighborhood is an interesting activity, and by forming a better understanding of the past, you may be able to envision an even greater future. If you have a desire to connect with others who love local history, the Delaware County Historical Society has educational sessions, workshops, and an annual meeting of members. Consider joining!
The Association is happy to report another successful Family Fun Day at Cooley Park. This year, they honored past resident Mark Kinman. He helped plan the original event in 2022. Children enjoyed the Splash Pad and basketball court, tug of war (Bridge Community Church), and a giant slip n’ slide (Muncie Police Department).
The event was hosted by Muncie Action Plan, with help from Ball State University’s Office of Community Engagement, Shafer Leadership Academy, Woof Boom Radio, and the City of Muncie.
When they weren’t in the pool, partygoers played yard games and “Muncie Bingo,” and enjoyed pizza, beverages, and popsicles. Kids received some cool summertime swag – beach balls and bubbles.
Prizes for the bingo winners included Minnetrista memberships, Holiday World passes, WLBC totes, and more! And parents and caregivers received the gift of very sleepy kiddos after a high-energy evening.
The expansion of Halteman Park into a Multi-generational Recreational Space project has reached Phase Two. The work will continue to serve as a model for other placemaking endeavors around the city. Click here to learn more about Phase One and how to get involved with Phase Two.
J.P. Hall, BSU Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation and Associate Chair, recently received the 2023 David Sursa Leadership Award for the impact on Halteman Village and the Muncie community as a whole.