Saturday, March 2, 2013

Irvington Landmark: Hilton's Tree

He has been gone for 95 years, but the beautiful oak tree commemorating the life of Hilton U. Brown, Jr. towers above the intersection of East Washington Street and Emerson Avenue.  Young Hilton was the son of prominent newspaper publisher, Hilton U. Brown and Jennie Hannah Brown.  He grew up in the family mansion at the southwest corner of East Washington Street and Emerson Avenue.  A budding writer and poet, the young man attended Butler University where his father served on the Board of Trustees. When the United States entered World War One, Hilton served his country first in Mexico and then in France.  Tragically, on November 3, 1918, he was killed in the Argonne, the final battle of the Great War and just eight days before the Armistice.

Hilton U. Brown, Jr in 1917 during his junior year at Butler University

Butler students preparing for World War One in 1918

His devastated family and friends decided that a fitting memorial must be erected.  Hilton U. Brown, Sr.  first tried to raise money for a giant memorial to all World War One veterans in Ellenberger Park.  The two-story structure was to have an auditorium, gymnasium, and game rooms.  Due to the expense, the memorial was never built. Instead, the family donated a plot of land across the street from their home and planted an oak tree in memory of their "sweet son."  In his memoirs, Mr. Brown described young Hilton as a sunny person, who loved life.

A memorial never built in Ellenberger Park--1919

Towering oak tree commemorating the life of WWI veteran, Hilton U. Brown, Jr. in 2013

Brown's Corner Park is one of the smallest parks in Indianapolis.  It is located on the northwest corner of East Washington Street and North Emerson Avenue.  

Tablet and rock honoring Hilton U. Brown, Jr.  He was killed in the final battle of WWI.

Today, the tree and small area of green space are the only interesting features left from the days of the Brown family.  Their manse was destroyed in the mid-twentieth century for a gas station as were homes on three other corners rendering the intersection unsightly and rather ugly by 2013.  A rock and tablet with Hilton's verse is shaded by the towering oak planted by his grieving family all those many decades ago.


  1. Hi Bill! My husband and I are currently living in Carmel and are thinking seriously (already looking at homes in Irvington and LIttle Flower) about moving to the Irvington area. We would love to talk to you about your experience in the community! Would you be available for a phone or e-mail exchange? If so, please contact me! My e-mail is Thanks!

  2. On the SE corner of Washington Street and Emerson Avenue, where the BP station is now, there was a great sledding hill: Brown's Hill. I believe that the manse was above and on the south of that hill--between the hill and the street back to Thomas Carr Howe High School.

  3. That is correct, Steve and I must say that Brown's Hill must have been very popular as I have spoken to many people who have remembered it fondly.

  4. The BP station is on the south west corner not the south east corner.

  5. Good point...BP is the southwest corner (Brown's corner) and another gas station is on the southeast corner.