INDIANAPOLIS — Propped up along Hillside Avenue are more than just homes, they’re reminders of history.
“My story has always been with Martindale-Brightwood,” said Shirley Webster. “It used to be a really vital community, wonderful community, diverse, wonderful place to live.”
Webster lived in the area as a teenager but eventually moved away. She returned with her husband 43 years later, and the two currently reside along Hillside Avenue.
Over time, Webster recalled the changes that eventually played a role in the neighborhood’s rise and decline.
“New developments, of course, attract people on the outside of your neighborhood, and things happen in your neighborhood,” she said. “We had the interstate that came down through Martindale-Brightwood that just separated the neighborhood, caused a lot of flight.”
“At some point, after there was a lot of the flight, mainly this was a Black neighborhood, which is empowering,” she added. “We owned most of Martindale-Brightwood.”
Webster has had family ties to the area, specifically the 1900 block of Hillside, since 1931. Today, she and her husband, along with other family members, still reside in the area with others planning a return.
“It’s been good that we’ve been able to stay,” she said.
That stay will certainly extend into the years to come. On Friday, Webster, joined by family, city leaders and friends, celebrated the foundation that’s already set for their new multi-generational home.
With help from their daughters, the Websters will soon have a new place to retire, completely surrounded by family, all just a few steps away. The property sits next door to the Websters’ current home.
“There’s always been a remnant, I think, in all of these neighborhoods that work hard to know that it can still go back to being better,” Webster said. “It just so happens that I’m blessed enough to see it happen, still be around to see that change where it was wonderful, it was not so wonderful, and now it’s becoming wonderful again.”
Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement Judith Thomas said it’s an example of the possibilities when people reinvest in their communities and the history within them.
“Our neighborhoods in Indianapolis, all of them are so special,” said Thomas. “To see new developments that are important to the neighborhood, and work with the neighborhood, and those folks that live there and are really about their culture, their people, that’s what’s exciting.”
Webster said she expects the home to be finished by Christmas or spring.