Down on the farm: Zionsville’s Maplelawn Farmstead celebrates 20 years


It’s been 20 years since a small group of residents interested in holding on to a piece of local history approached the Town of Zionsville about preserving an old farm.

In the two decades since, the board members of Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. have transformed the old farmhouse and outbuildings at 9575 Whitestown Rd. into a local attraction, preserving history while providing a place for education, entertainment and everything in between.

Located next to Mulberry Fields Park, the original farmstead was established in 1835 by John and Jane Wolf. In 1900, the farm was sold to Alfred and Elmira Scott and remained a working farm in the Scott family for the next 100 years.

Lester Bradley — the surviving spouse of Alyce Scott Bradley — operated the farm until his death in 2000, and in 2003 the land was sold to the Town of Zionsville with the intention of developing a park. The Zionsville Historical Society formed a subcommittee of people interested in saving the farmstead. The committee eventually became the nonprofit Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc., whose members successfully lobbied the Zionsville Parks and Recreation board for a 50-year lease to rehab the farmstead to operate a museum and related educational programming.

“We’ve been slowly and surely improving the farmstead ever since,” said Chris Garvey, president of the Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. board of directors.

Garvey said there was minimal risk when the town agreed to the lease. The organization took over financial responsibility and care for the original residential property while the remainder of the farm was developed into Mulberry Fields. Had the preservation efforts failed, the town could have simply folded the farmstead into the plans for Mulberry Fields, he said.

Since 2004, the board has been rehabbing the site, building by building, settling on a theme.

“The 1930s Depression era is our focus,” Garvey said. “We think most of the buildings are in that time period, so we felt it would be consistent to restore it to that period.”

The house includes the original milk room, cistern, most of the original flooring and most of the original plaster walls. The board has also overseen kitchen restoration and has added items of historical significance, including a 1930s-era washing machine and gas stove, an ice box and a restored Hoosier cabinet.

The parlor and upstairs bedroom have also been restored and decorated to be appropriate for the 1930s, which even included research to ensure using the same paint colors that would have been used at the time.

Garvey said when the organization first took possession of the house, most of the interior decor was from the 1960s and 1970s, including shag carpet and dated wallpaper. When the wallpaper was removed, underneath were dates scrawled onto the wall over the years by the residents at the time, including dates written in pencil from 1919, 1946 and 1956.

In the past 20 years, Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. has raised and invested $300,000 in structures, preserving and maintaining the house, historic barns, corn crib, animal pens and even the outhouse.

The organization also operates a small garden, growing strawberries, blackberries and raspberries that are used to make jam and beehives for honey, all of which are sold to raise funds for the farmstead.

“The gardens are really a profit center for us. Every dollar we earn we put back into the garden activities,” Garvey said.

For the 20th anniversary, the organization was approached by an anonymous donor offering a $20,000 matching grant. Garvey said since February, the board has raised $5,000.

Over the past few years, the farmstead has grown its programming, serving as a meeting place for local groups and hosting ice cream socials, barns and brews events, movie nights, spring teas and hosting a special viewing event for the April 8 total eclipse. Last year, the farmstead hosted its first wedding and has served as a popular site for graduations, homecomings and prom photos.

Garvey said in 2023, the farmstead welcomed more than 3,000 visitors.

“We think we’re building a nice asset for the community and we’re not costing the taxpayers a dime,” Garvey said. “Over the years, people are using it. What we wanted to do was really celebrate these 20 years.”

Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. is involved in a fundraising effort for its 20th anniversary. Donations can be made at

Maplelawn Farmstead 20th Anniversary

Maplelawn Farmstead was listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

Maplelawn Farmstead, Inc. has several events planned for the 20th anniversary of the farmstead in 2024.

maplelawn barn
The original equipment barn has been rehabbed and is used to store 1930s era tractors and tools. (Photos by Marney Simon)

Upcoming events

Ice cream social — The farmstead will host an ice cream social from 2 to 4 p.m. May 19, including site tours.

Barns and Brews — Programs will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 13, June 20 and June 27. Specific programming will be announced as the dates get closer.

Movie nights — Guests will be welcome to view movies starting at 7 pm. Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. Pizza, popcorn, soft drinks and treats will be available for sale. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Learn more about Maplelawn Farmstead, its history, the 20th anniversary and upcoming events at