Twelve Points History

Twelve Points, and the Twelve Points Historic District, is a collection of buildings which represent the earliest suburban development in the city of Terre Haute, Indiana.  

In 1889, a young surveyor named Walter Phillips was hired to lay out the lots for a large parcel of land which had been purchased north of Terre Haute. There were good reasons to believe that the development would be successful. That development became known as Twelve Points, named because of the twelve corner points where three streets intersect.

In the 19th century, Terre Haute was a small town with big ambitions.

  • The Wabash & Erie Canal ran through Terre Haute connecting Lafayette to Evansville on the Ohio River.
  • Railroads came through Terre Haute in 1852 and it was clear that the city would become a major rail center.
  • Terre Haute became known as the “Crossroads” of the West, with the intersection of two major highways in the city’s center. The north-south major highway originally travelled along Lafayette Avenue through the heart of Twelve Points.
  • The introduction of electric powered streetcars helped Twelve Points become a thriving commercial center.

During the boom time of the 1920’s, Twelve Points was a lively center with two theaters, the Swan and the Garfield; several taverns, at least two bakeries, a drug store, a general store, a bowling alley, a cigar store, a barber shop, a haberdashery, many other retail specialty stores; as well as doctors, lawyers, insurance, and banking endeavors. Twelve Points was “a city within a city”.

The Great Depression in the 1930’s, shifting transportation trends and routes in the 1950’s, along with manufacturing declines in the late 20th century significantly impacted Twelve Points.

Yet despite all of these challenges, the greater Twelve Points area and the Twelve Points Revitalization organization is pursuing efforts to rejuvenate the entire district to its former glory.

Want to learn more

Some Twelve Points historic photos provided by the Vigo County Historical Society

If you would like to learn more of Twelve Points history, press the button to open information submitted to the National Register of Historic Places. There are countless things you will discover!

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