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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Beech Grove


Basic Information

Type of Place
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Don’t Know

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 3552 0
1950 5685 1
1960 10973 5
1970 13468 19
1980 13164 8
1990 13383
2000 14880 133 120 28 308 44
2010 14192 461 144

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


A former Indiana resident recalls, %u201CHaving grown up in Indianapolis living on the edge of the adjacent town of Beech Grove, it was notorius for exclusion of blacks when it came to living in the little town. The Big Four RR car shops were located there and blacks were employed there, but according to my parents, they had to leave promptly after shift. I don’t think I heard the term “sundown” used while growing up in the 60s 70s although the John Birch Society billboards are part of my childhood memory.%u201D

An Indiana resident from Southport remembers in the period of 1957 to 1961, “a sign (as recently as 1961) upon entering the town of Beech Grove that read, ‘Nigger don’t let the sun set on your black ass.'” The sign was made of metal and at least three or four feet long and about two feet high, planted in the ground with two metal poles. This person also indicated that during this time “blacks were working ONLY at St. Francis Hospital and the railroad yard back in those days. No blacks actually lived in Beech Grove.”

The sundown sign was located (c. 1957-1961) on Troy Avenue, on the Eastbound side, at the intersection of Sherman Drive (now 17th Avenue) in Beech Grove. (According to a former resident of Beech Grove)