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Local Builder, Developer, Among Early 'Exceptional' Hoosier Women

Arcadian Acres_1.jpg
Tim Jagielo
The sign marking the entrance to Arcadian Acres subdivision on Evansville's east side. This neighborhood was platted by Isabella Sullivan, one of the nearly 40 woman builders and architects recognized during Historic Preservation Month.

State campaign highlights women architects, builders who blazed real estate path starting in late 1800s

The state of Indiana is recognizing the efforts of early women architects, builders and realtors during the month of May.

"I kind of feel that since we know about them, there's that obligation to really let them finally get some recognition and be able to put faces and names and buildings together," said Indiana Architectural Historian Amy Borland.

It is Historic Preservation Month and the theme this year is "The Exceptional one," referring to women who contributed thousands of buildings to the landscape of Indiana cities starting in the late 1800s.

So far 38 are being recognized, including Isabella Sullivan of Evansville who passed away in 1973.

Borland said Sullivan not only built and flipped houses, she also platted a neighborhood in Evansville.

“She kind of had a long history of building a house living in it for a while to make it feel homey, and then selling it," she said. "And so she kind of lived all over the city down there. But one of her biggest areas she platted and designed is the neighborhood of Arcadian Acres.”

Borland said she also built veterans housing on Covert Avenue in 1947.

She said at the time, residential designs were the most acceptable for women to do, because of their expected role in the home.

“ … since they kind of had, I'll say, inside knowledge of how should you arrange a kitchen or a flow of rooms or something like that, they really understood that as related to the work of what a woman did in the home," she said. "And so I think it worked to their advantage. They use their knowledge and their experience to help promote their product.”

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The Evansville Courier/Arcadia Acres
Indiana DNR
The original Arcadian Acres plan with inset of Isabella Sullivan.