Kirby Historic District

History

The Kirby Historic District is named for the Kirby family. Several generations of the Kirby family were important community leaders in the early years of Muncie. Located in the eastern section of the neighborhood (see map), this district contains some of the oldest homes in the neighborhood.

Thomas Kirby was one of the founding fathers of Muncie. Born in Massachusetts, he came to Indiana at the age of twenty-three and first earned his living as a trader of furs and ginseng. In 1839 he built his home about 3/4 of a mile east of downtown Muncie. This may be the oldest existing home within the City of Muncie and is certainly amongst the oldest in Delaware County. Thomas Kirby was an entrepreneur who operated several businesses during his lifetime. He ran a general store on Washington Street and later opened the Kirby House as a hotel and business center in downtown Muncie.

Thomas Kirby's sons Thomas H. Kirby, John M. Kirby, and George Kirby were prominent businessmen in Muncie from the 1870's through the 1910's. Thomas H. Kirby and John M. Kirby started the Kirby Lumber Company in 1899. Thomas H. Kirby was also a real estate developer in the area and many of the additions ("subdivisions") in the neighborhood are named after him. George Kirby's son W.W. Kirby was a local banker, investor, and investment adviser.

Architecture

Several of the homes in the Kirby Historic District were designed by the renowned local architect Cuno Kibele. A fine example of Kibele's work in the Queen Anne style is the Bannister House at 1423 E. Main. This home was designed for Harry Bannister and was built in 1905. The W. F. Spencer House at 1400 E. Main is an example of prairie design. This home was built in 1909 for William F. Spencer II who served as the president of the American Lawnmower Company, a company founded by his father.