Blue Ridge History
Linda and Paul Kern wrote a six-part mini-series about the Blue Ridge, its predecessors, and its neighbors. Those episodes are linked at the bottom of this page.
In 1816, the 160-acre area that is now the Blue Ridge neighborhood was granted to John and Jane Kell from the United States Government for $350. In 1855, Jacob Sheets purchased a 54-acre parcel of that land, including one of the three highest points in Monroe County (now cresting along Blue Ridge Drive), and gave the hill his name: Sheets Hill. The rest of the land became Hinkle Farm, home to Monroe County pioneer Jonathan Hinkle who raised cattle and pigs in the rolling hills.
A 1951 publication, Land Uses in Bloomington, Indiana, 1818-1950, states that “a region which might in future years attract new growth is on a ridge immediately north of Bloomington and east of Highway 37. There are no immediate prospects for its development; however, these sectors should be considered in connection with future expansion… the land is high and well-drained. No barriers to expansion exist in that region, and already, several community leaders have located in that general vicinity.”
The Urban Development Corporation platted the plans for Blue Ridge Estates, 1st addition (Lots 1-76) in December 1958, purchasing 167 acres from the Hinkle family. The site of the new residential community included many architectural and engineering challenges. Designing a restricted area with high minimum footage requirements for the homes and building lots were considerations made by the developers. Due to the hilly terrain of the area, a lift station was shipped from Mineral Springs, Texas. At a cost of $25,000, it was required to provide a boost up 17 feet to the peak of the development. By 1962, twelve homes were under construction on lots that cost from $4,000 to $6,500. These homes fell into the $25,000 price range.
When the First Addition was platted, the Urban Development Corporation also established restrictions and covenants on the land use, mainly intended to ensure that the homes of Blue Ridge Estates would be architecturally appealing. These restrictions expired at 12:00 noon, December 31, 1988.
Within a short period of four years after the establishment of the 1st Addition, the undeveloped Blue Ridge property had four deed changes. It went from the Urban Development Corporation to the First Blue Ridge Estates Corporation, whose officers included H.C. Evans (a former state senator and realtor) and Dillon Geiger, a local physician. Later, a deed transfer was made to Bankers Growth Corporation, then another to Bankers Life Insurance Company, and after that company merged with the Acme United Insurance Company of Illinois, the unsold lots of the 1st Addition and the balance of the undeveloped acreage was owned by Bankers United Life Assurance Company. At some point during these deed changes, the first Ramble Road West was renamed to Bankers Drive, and the current Ramble Road West would be established in the 2nd Addition.
The 2nd Addition (Lots 77A-148) was established in November of 1967. Kenneth and Irvin Rumple (brothers; Kenneth Rumple owned one of the lots from the 1st addition and is Kenler Drive’s namesake), and William Oliver (a law professor at the time, later the original president of Oliver Winery, and Oliver Drive’s namesake) were the developers for the expansion program, for which Rumple and Oliver formed a new Blue Ridge Estates Corporation. The developers adopted many of the same neighborhood restrictions as established in the 1st Addition (and also expiring in 1988), with the following two changes: (1) Blue Ridge Estates Inc. was permitted to grant builders the right to erect non-dwelling structures in “special circumstances”; (2) off-street parking was required on every lot, and boats and trailers were required to be kept in enclosed structures. The 2nd Addition plat and restrictions were executed in November 1967. As with the original developers, the new ones were dedicated to preserving as much of the natural beauty of the property as was feasible and they would continue to promote high building standards in the sub-division. Starting with the 2nd Addition, all utility lines were to be underground, and sidewalks and curbs would be installed.
The 2nd addition was in turn followed by the 3rd (June 1980), 4th (June 1982, with restrictions expiring in December 2001), 5th (Summer 1984), and Blue Slopes Additions.
Distinctive gates mark the entrance to Blue Ridge from Walnut Street. The iconic wrought iron arch and Indiana limestone pillars were originally on the Laurel Hall estate of the Fletcher Trust family in Indianapolis (an all-girl boarding school) and were obtained by Shirley Rumple (wife of Kenneth Rumple, Blue Ridge developer). A blue spruce tree was planted just behind the gate to symbolize Blue Ridge.
- Harvey, R.O. (1951). Land Uses in Bloomington, Indiana, 1818-1950. Bureau of Business Research, School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington.
- Rumple, Shirley (1985). The History of Blue Ridge Estates. Blue Ridge Directory 1985-1986.