Nestled along the National Road U.S. 40 and a short 20 minute drive from downtown Indianapolis, historic Plainfield is growing by leaps and bounds. Since 2014 the population has risen more than 193.20 percent. The reasons are simple. Plainfield has a cost of living that is 6.30 percent below the U.S. average. The median cost of a home is is $156,400 with an increased home appreciation over the the last 10 years of 6.22 percent.
With both U.S. Hwy 40 and Interstate 70 running through it and the Indianapolis International Airport minutes down the road, Plainfield is an ideal location for families and singles. Industry abounds all around the airport, jobs are plentiful and there are homes to purchase that range from old historic structures to new developments.
What once was an unbroken wilderness along White Creek and occupied by the Delaware Indians in the early 1800’s is now a bustling, thriving city offering great city parks, good schools and plenty of affordable housing.
The name Plainfield is often associated with a religious sect called the Quakers or Friends Church. And, while this town does have a large population and the Western Yearly Meeting house for the religion, it wasn’t founded by them. But their influence is still felt today.
Plainfield is historically significant as being one of the first communities settled in central Indiana in the early 1800s.
In 1822 Jeremiah Hadley came from Preble County, Ohio and obtained a tract of land that now includes Plainfield. Ten years later he sold it to his son Elias who laid out the town in 1839. It became incorporated only to have its charter given up after several unsuccessful attempts at creating a town government. Township trustees preferred to remain a township. It wasn’t until 1904 that Plainfield was finally incorporated as a town.
By 1850 the population of this peaceful place had grown to 14,083. The surrounding countryside was developed by a strong farming community. Corn, wheat, oats and soybeans were sold at markets in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Two-thirds of the county’s population were farmers. As more people came to the county, the commerce in the local cities thrived.
Today the population of Plainfield and Guilford Townships continues to rise. It exceeds 30,000 today and is growing.
With the Indianapolis International Airport within ten miles of Plainfield, warehouses, manufacturers and other businesses are buying up commercial real estate as fast as it becomes available.
Besides US Highway 40, Interstate I-70 and State Road 267, the completion of the Ronald Reagan Parkway has increased the speed and convenience of getting across Hendricks County significantly.
Plainfield’s Main Street is located on historic US 40. In addition to beautiful homes and lots of commercial enterprises, the highway has an entertaining history. The country’s attention was focused on it in 1842 when President Martin Van Buren was purposefully spilled from is stagecoach into the thick muck of the road. It was considered a practical joke by locals who were angered by Van Buren’s vetoing a congressional bill to improve the road.
Locals made sure Van Buren’s stagecoach ran over the roots of an elm tree causing his carriage to topple and toss him out into the mud. The tree was later named the Van Buren Elm.
The Elm tree is gone but there are plenty of other trees in town. They are particularly beautiful in the many parks and trail systems which include over 20 miles of pathways. These trails connect several of the town’s parks.
One of these pathways is the Vandalia Trail which runs almost 5 miles through the center of town. When completed, it will be part of the National Road Heritage Trail which will eventually stretch over 150 miles from Terre Haute to Richmond using the former Pennsylvania and and Vandalia railroad corridors.
Trails also run to Hummel Park which encompasses 205 acres including a 300 foot wooden bridge spanning White Lick Creek that joins the park’s east and west sides. A variety of sports venues including basketball and volleyball courts and baseball diamonds are featured on the east side of the park while the west side offers miles of nature trails, five fishing lakes and an amphitheater. There are shelter houses, an outdoor pavilion and two gazebos.
Part of the system also includes the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center. This includes 3.1 acre tropical-themed waterpark. There are three waterslides, a play area, a six-lane competition pool and a lazy rivera. A two-story center includes an indoor pool, basketball courts, an indoor walk/run track, fitness center and indoor play area.
Lovely neighborhoods surround all the parks in the area and contain a variety of homes in price ranges from $95,000 to $800,000. With 83 percent of the residents here as homeowners and an average income of nearly $60,000, homes of all types are available. Nearly 50 percent of the homes are three bedroom homes.
This community has a mixed workforce of both white and blue collar jobs. Overall it is a town of sales and office workers, professionals and managers. More people living in Plainfield work in computers and math industries than 95 percent of all towns in the US.
The overall education level in Plainfield is higher than the average US city. More than 28 percent of adults aged 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree. So it’s no surprise that the local school system is four star rated and has a graduation rate of 97 percent.
The Plainfield Community School Corporation oversees seven schools that boast an average class size of just 20 students per class. These include four elementary schools a middle school and a high school.
There are also two private schools in Plainfield, Saint Susanna Catholic School and the Plainfield Christian School.
The early years of Plainfield show how connected the community education system was to it’s churches. The Plainfield United Methodist Church was organized in 1836 by a group of individuals. In 1849 the Conservative Friends built a meetinghouse in Plainfield and two years later another one was erected in Sugar Grove just south of the town.
By 1858 four families organized the First Baptist Church and the Western Yearly Meeting was organized and the brick meeting house on Main Street was built. By 1861 there were 227 children attending schools of the Friends Monthly Meeting and only 48 attending non-Friends schools in town.
In 1867 a public grade school was established as well as the Indiana Boys School (a reformatory). Twenty years later the Plainfield Quarterly Meeting established the first high school, Central Academy. By now there were 300 students in the local elementary schools however the first graduating high school class in 1900 only had 3 students.
By 1954 the township school system was reorganized under a five-member school board. In 1961 there were 2,173 students and 97 students in the school system. The community recently opened a $103 million high school. It is the last school in the state to have a new school built without voting with the town and causing a tax increase in the area. Current enrollment in the school stands at 5,466 students and 307 teachers.
In the 1970s the Muslim Student Association acquired 124 acres of land and eventually erected the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). It was completed in 1983 and serves as a grassroots organization focused on developing Muslim identity.
Plain may be in its’ name but this city is place of diversity filled with hardworking residents determined to make and keep their city a safe, healthy and happy community. Family homes, commercial real estate sites and has become a booming area that continues to grow while providing a great quality of life for people of all ages and walks of life.