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Page last updated on July 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

McDoel Gardens is Bloomington's most altered neighborhood from past to present.

In the early 20th century, McDoel was a thriving industrial community with factories and limestone mills and was home of the Monon Railroad yard.

Today the bungalows of the yard workers, featuring rows and rows of characteristic front porches, line Dodds and Dixie Streets. However, not much evidence remains of Bloomington's historic native businesses that once thrived near this district, including the Gentry Brothers Circus and Showers Brothers Kitchen Cabinet Plant.

Many legends about this district still circulate today. For instance, a current homeowner on Dixie Street discovered a slab with an iron hoop built into the foundation of her basement. A former owner claimed that it was an elephant tie down from the days when the circus wintered in McDoel. Also, several neighbors suspect that the enthusiasm for gardening in this area is a covert attempt to find the graves of exotic animals that may be buried in backyards.

Hoosier Cabinets, coveted by antique collectors, were also produced in McDoel, beginning in 1919.

That factory evolved and was purchased by RCA in 1927 when it began to build more modern radio cabinets. All of this land is currently being redeveloped.

In order to stabilize and encourage homeownership, McDoel Gardens Neighborhood Association spearheaded the effort to make McDoel a conservation district in 2001. It was the largest Conservation District in Indiana. It became a historic district in 2004.