The property that makes up Blue Ridge was purchased at auction from the federal government in 1816 by George Paul and John Kell. The land itself was not suitable for farming, so, after being “logged out”, it was used to raise cattle and hogs. The property was eventually owned by two families: the Matlocks and the Hinkles.
Up until the 1950s, the Blue Ridge area was considered far, far north of Bloomington. People went there to picnic on the grounds or to gaze upon Lake Griffy. Occasionally, an Indian arrowhead might be found.
Then, in 1954, Matlock Heights, a development just south of Blue Ridge, was constructed. Thought of as a foolish idea at the time, it was a massive success. This encouraged local investors to purchase the Blue Ridge property from the Hinkle family in 1959.
The initial phase of the construction was begun in 1962 and centered around Sheets Hill, the highest point on Blue Ridge. The entrance gates off Walnut Street were also purchased during this time.
Over the next 20 years, another 6 additions were added with a total of 220 houses. Therefore, home-building styles from mid-20th century to present day are on display throughout the neighborhood.
There are two roads that surround Blue Ridge. Walnut Street, on the west side, was once part of the Dixie Highway which stretched from Montreal to Miami Beach in the 1910s. Dunn Street, on the east side, was a dangerous country road which still has some challenges.
Griffy Reservoir to the east, was completed in 1925. It was built to stave off severe droughts which had plagued Bloomington and IU for decades.
Cascades Park, to the west, was built in the early 1920s and was the city’s first park. It is home to Cascades golf course which, in 1929, saw then British Open Champion Walter Hagen compete in a local tournament.
The entire history of Blue Ridge is enclosed in detail below. Blue Ridge: The Mini-Series is divided into 10 episodes. The first 4 episodes describe the development of the neighborhood while the last 6 concern the surrounding area.
Linda and Paul Kern