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September 18, 2023

Fishers and Its City Halls

By David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

As Fishers builds the Arts & Municipal Complex, its newest city building, it’s interesting to look back and see how the local seat of municipal government has changed through the years. Since Salathiel Fisher died soon after platting the town in 1872, the early organization of the community isn’t clear. The township probably served as the local authority. In the 1874 elections, held on the second Tuesday in October, Delaware Township elected a Township Trustee, a Justice of the Peace, and two constables. By the 1882 township election, there was a Trustee, a Justice of the Peace, a Road Superintendent, an Assessor, and three constables.

There are newspaper mentions of a Fishers Corporation starting in January of 1887. Interestingly, this year was also the start of the natural gas boom and the incorporation of Noblesville as a city. It’s not clear how the corporation governance in Fishers was chosen, but they began passing ordinances in June of 1888. Larry Reynolds has reprinted some of these in his book, The Mudsock Scrapbook. A newspaper article in May 1889 lists J. C. Alexander as Clerk, Simeon Snyder as Treasurer, Vinson McDaniel and William Olvey as members of the town council, and Melvin Long as council president.

1891 Fishers ballot

The town was officially incorporated by the state in 1891. That year saw the first Board of Trustees election. The Fishers Station Corporation ballot, which was published in the Hamilton County Democrat newspaper on April 24, lists the candidates. The meeting site for the board is unknown, but it was possibly close to wherever the clerk kept his files. Fishers got a post office in 1893 which was probably based in a local store and which may have been the first step towards a government space.

1955 fire station

In 1955, the town of Fishers approved its first municipal building – a fire station and city building that would be on Main Street (116th Street) in the center of town. It was designed by a local architect named John Pecsok. The citizens had a celebration to open it in August of that year.

1955 was a busy year for the town of Fishers and Delaware Township. The township had been formed with the founding of the county as one of two townships, which were then divided into the present nine. However, the river was always an issue. In 1850, the area west of the river proposed becoming a separate township, which was briefly granted and then rescinded. It was proposed again in 1866 but dismissed. Eller Bridge was built over White River in 1870 which should have alleviated some of the issues. However, it was proposed again in 1875 and 1913. The split finally came in 1955 primarily over education issues. The western section became part of Clay Township.

1973 Fishers Town Hall

While Fishers was not in the initial wave of suburban growth, the town was impacted by it, particularly after the construction of Interstate 69. The town annexed 1,400 acres in 1972 and moved out of the fire station in 1973. They moved through several buildings in the 1970s. Addresses along 116th Street like 8790, 8664 (which was also the post office), 8674, and 8684 appeared in official Clerk-Treasurer notices in the newspaper. Finally, the offices moved to 8597 116th Street in 1980 and stayed there for several years.

1980 Fishers Municipal Building

The community continued to grow, with the Thomas A. Weaver Complex being established in 1991 and named for a notable town councilman. A new town hall was constructed near the new fire station that had already been built in the area. The site where it was built has the distinction of being a cornfield where a midnight shootout had taken place in 1896. A gang of desperadoes had attempted to rob the train by tearing up the tracks but were prevented by the sheriff and a posse of citizens. The 1991 building changed from a town hall to a city hall in 2015 with the incorporation of the City of Fishers. The opening of the new Arts & Municipal Complex is tentatively scheduled for March 2024.