Admiral Heslar and Traders Point

(photo of carriage house)

Admiral Heslar was the first commanding officer of the Naval Armory in Indianapolis, built in 1936.

Between 1943 and 1945, Navy strategists gathered at the Naval Armory in
Indianapolis to plan their wartime campaigns, including the D-Day operation.
A land-locked Admiral Heslar, transplanted to central Indiana by the Navy, designed and built a unique home in the Traders Point area to remind him of life at sea. Built on a 10 acre site west of Fishback Creek on the northside of West 86th Street (and just west of the Traders Point covered bridge that has since been relocated), Heslar designed a water filled backyard complete with aqueducts to
simulate being at sea or a sea view. Sadly, the only remnant of the Heslar mansion is the carriage house pictured here. The construction of the armory building on White River was constructed during Heslar’s tenure and is now named for him.

“Central Indiana is probably the last place most people would expect to find
a naval landmark of international significance. That was exactly the hope in
World War II, when Navy generals and admirals—seeking to avoid the constant
surveillance on the coasts—gathered regularly at the Heslar Naval Armory in
Indianapolis to plan their Atlantic and Pacific campaigns. In spite of its
comparative anonymity in the pages of history, the Armory has drawn
appreciative local attention since its construction in 1936. With its
gleaming white Art Moderne-style exterior, the building seems dropped by
mistake on the banks of the White River near 30th Street—something you’d
expect to see in Miami Beach, not Indianapolis. ” Indiana Historic Landmarks Statement regarding armory.


About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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3 Responses to Admiral Heslar and Traders Point

  1. mary roberts says:

    Where did Admiral Heslar’s family roots come from? We have a Heslar — always spelled with the “ar” ending — who was b. in Parke Co., Ind.

    Was Admiral Heslar from another state?

    Any info appreciated about his family forebears greatly appreciated. We were so glad to finaly find the Heslar name.


  2. Pat says:

    We have a Heslar grt. grandmother who was b. in Parke Co., IN in 1863, her father was James Elbridge Heslar & we have heard that he was b. in Brown, Co., OH. Both of his parents or one was from KY.

    We have always maintained the “ar” in Heslar — where did Ola Heslar come from? I have seen the name Oliver in the census with our family.

    Any further info appreciatd!!

    Sorry if I am repeating information!

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