Calvin Fletcher, Sr. (1798-1866), was born in Ludlow, Vermont. In 1817 he worked his way westward to Urbana, Ohio, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1820. Fletcher and his first wife, Sarah Hill Fletcher, came to Indianapolis in 1821, shortly after the site had been designed for the new state capitol.
Fletcher found himself the first lawyer in Indianapolis. He later set up practice with Ovid Butler, founder of Butler University, and Simon Yandes, member of another early Indianapolis family. In 1826, Fletcher was elected to the state legislature and served in that body until 1833.
Shortly thereafter, he helped organize the State Bank of Indiana and acted as a director for 16 years. His interest in education led to his appointment as one of the first members of the Indianapolis Board of School Trustees. An early neighborhood public school bears his name. Later, he was appointed a trustee during the organization of Asbury College, now DePauw University.
Calvin Fletcher owned the farm that originally encompassed most of the land in today’s Fletcher Place Historic Neighborhood District. The early settlement of what was to become Fletcher Place started with the Fletcher farm, known as Wood Lawn. They lived on the 269-acre farm from 1839 – 1855. Gradually, the Fletchers and their associates platted the area into individual lots, beginning in 1857. Fletcher place was composed of several residents that made many contributions to the early development of architecture, religion, commerce, education, and social life in the city of Indianapolis. The structures they built, which remain to this day, are evidence of this contribution.
A deeply religious man, Fletcher contributed generously to the erection of nearly all the early churches in the city. The Fletcher Place United Methodist Church was built on the on a portion of the farm, after the land had been donated to the church. Fletcher opposed slavery and promoted the organization of the U.S. colored troops in Indiana during the Civil War, allowing them to use his land to train between December 1863 and April 1864.
He died in 1866 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery. His children, nine sons and two daughters, also held prominent positions in the community and firmly established the Fletcher name in local history. His extensive diaries and letters remain essential sources for study of early Indiana. As a tribute to the significance of Calvin Fletcher, Mayor Bart Peterson declared Feb 4th as Calvin Fletcher / Fletcher Place Neighborhood Day in the City of Indianapolis. The Mayoral Proclamation was made official on the 150th birthday of Calvin Fletcher, at the Fletcher Place Neighborhood History Night in 2003.