Sketch of Daugherty House from 1971

Oliver Daugherty: A Gift of Green in Indianapolis

Oliver Daugherty was a contrarian with a passion for his land. 

His ancestor, Dr. James Livingston Thompson, moved from England in 1855 and took ownership of over 300 acres of land situated in the crossroads of America. Along the river in land that would become Oliver’s Woods, he built a home, and the land was used as a dairy farm, stretching to 96th Street. It remained intact as it was passed down through the family—even as neighboring farmland was sold to developers—until the 1960s when it was split in half for I-465 construction. 

When Oliver was growing up, his father, Joseph Daugherty, was a colonel in the U.S. Army, and Joseph moved his family with him wherever he was stationed. While living in Indianapolis, the Daugherty family used the house and farm as their summer retreat. In 1954, upon Joseph’s retirement, Oliver’s parents moved to the property full-time.

In 1984, Oliver Daugherty started permanently residing on this land with a dream to protect what remained.

The land, 53 acres on the north side of Indianapolis, is located in the highly developed area of Keystone at the Crossing. Situated beside the White River, with a mile of river frontage, it offers a nature immersion in the bustle of commercialization. It encompasses 16 acres of woods and 37 acres of prairie-savanna restoration.

In 1992, Daugherty declined an offer of $14,000,000 for the 53 acres. In 1998, he sold a conservation easement to the City of Indianapolis and later declined $9,000,000 for the land west of Carmel Creek. He believed that the world didn’t need another shopping mall.

Upon his death in 2009, Oliver Daugherty donated the 53 acres to the Central Indiana Land Trust. The Daugherty House has since undergone many improvements and is now available for local not-for-profit groups to use for meetings and events.

Native species like wild ginger, Virginia bluebells, waterleaf, wild hyacinth, and trillium flourish here. Trails in Town Run Trail Park, which is partly encompassed within the property, remain in place, as was agreed upon by Indy Parks and Oliver Daugherty.

We continue to be eternally grateful for Mr. Daugherty’s generosity and dream to protect the land.

Bridget Walls

Communications and Outreach Intern

Bridget is our first ever Communications and Outreach Intern. She is a graduate of Marian University, where she combined English, studio art, and environmental sciences in her degree studies. As treasurer for Just Earth, the university's environmental club, she helped plan events encouraging a responsible relationship between people, nature, and animals.