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Oral History Collecting Initiative: The Town of Crows Nest

An affluent residential area located on the Northwest side of Indianapolis, the Town of Crows Nest has been home to some of the most prominent residents in the city. The area comprises two distinct neighborhoods – Sunset Lane and Questover Circle.

Estate of Nicholas H. Noyes, 1929.

Sunset Lane was originally a farming area owned by the Lemings, Hessongs and Krise families. John Krise purchased land in the area in 1830. Located west of the White River, the area was a popular summer retreat and also had a Lutheran cemetery. It was later nicknamed “Pill Hill” for the many Lilly family members and executives who built homes there. In 1904, Albert Lieber, president of the Indianapolis Brewing Co., built a farmstead on his property along the White River just west of Sunset Lane. Following his example, other large estates were built in the area. In 1910, Dr. Albert Cole built his home, named Cedar Crest, on Sunset Lane. A few years later, W. Hathaway Simmons also built a home on Sunset Lane. In 1920, Lieber sold the property to Frank and Cecilia Stalnaker who named the property Questover. Their estate set a new standard for subsequent development in Crows Nest, and the face of the area started changing in the 1920s with the construction of large private estates. Fearing the expanding boundaries of Indianapolis and the annexation of other suburbs, 37 residents petitioned for the town’s incorporation in 1927. In 1971, Crows Nest became an “included town” within the Unigov structure and still maintains an elected council. The Town of Crows Nest was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

The collection contains six oral history interviews with transcripts of residents of Crows Nest and is part of the Indiana Historical Society’s oral history collecting initiative. Each interview contains a digital copy of the interview and a transcript. Interviewees are: Cornelius “Lee” Alig and the late Emily Daniels, Joseph D. Blakley and William L. Fortune Jr., Robert Hebert, William and Catherine Lawson, J. Thomas and Joan O’Brien, and Richard D. Wood.