Herman Krannert, Normandy Farms and Traders Point

In the early 20th century, the Traders Point area became the location of choice for some of Marion County’s wealthier residents, including Department Store pioneers William H. Block & L.S. Ayres, Eli Lilly, J. K. Lilly, Industrialist Harold Ransburg, and Herman Krannert. An industrialist who in his later years became a prominent philanthropist, Herman C. Krannert, founded Inland Container. One of his quieter achievements was a meticulously planned estate, located between Noel Road and Marsh Road on the south side of West 79th Street. The rolling estate was accessed by driving through a two story gatehouse which still stands on the property. Krannert and his wife lived on the 600 acre property they purchased in 1934. Years later following Mr. Krannert’s death, trustees sold their property and it was eventually developed into the Normany Farms subdivision.
The original Normandy Farm not only included Mr. Krannert’s private residence, there was also an elaborate and modern (for its day) dairy farm operation. The farm was managed by agricultural experts and assisted by Purdue University. It was reputed to be one of the most advanced dairy farming operations in the nation. Mrs. Krannert named the property Normandy Farm after the province in France called “Normandie” because it reminded her of the French countryside with its picturesque landscapes of rolling hills, farms, and forests. Mr. Krannert died in 1972 at the age of 84. In 1975 approximately 395 acres of the farm were sold to developer John Kleinops, who had developed the nearby Trader’s Point North subdivision. Representatives of the Krannert estate expressed great satisfaction that Mr. Kleinops would be the indvidual to develop Normandy Farms. They wanted the property to be developed to a standard consistent with Mr. Krannert’s reputation for excellence and aesthetics.
After consulting experts in land planning and architecture, John Kleinops spent two years designing and planning the new subdivision. He aimed to preserve the environs that made this property unique, including the imported specimen trees as well as the topographical features of the property. This necessitated the implementation of conservation and erosion controls into the developent plan. As a result, Normany Farms subdivision was designated as the Urban Conservationist of the Year in 1980 by the Soil & Water Conservation Board.
Normandy Farms was the site of the 1980 Home-A-Rama and the 1983 Designer Showcase of Homes. The developer currently resides in the mansion built by Krannert surrounded by Kleinops-built homes. Kleinops is a Latvian-born artisan known for the old-world craftmanship of the homes he built. John’s son Bob is fully engaged by the completion of the master plan. Their current project, located at the southwest corner of West 79th Street and Marsh Roads, is called Estates at Normandy Farm. http://www.estatesofnormandy.com/
Krannert was a social friend of neighbor J. K. Lilly, (who also made generous contributions to Purdue University). One can only guess which one of them introduced the other to this beautiful area. Aerial photos of the Krannert estate in Traders Point from the 1930’s reveal an estate very similar to its present professionally landscaped plan. It is possible that Frederick Law Olmstead’s landscape as architecture techniques being taught and popularized at the time, had spread to the affluent in rural Indiana.
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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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