The Old Washington Street Festival: An East Central Neighborhood Mainstay

The Old Washington Street Festival: An East Central Neighborhood Mainstay

Writer / David Fennig
Photographer / David Fennig

Every third weekend in September, the East Central Neighborhood in Muncie opens its doors to visitors from around the state. It’s an elegant and stately neighborhood with many noteworthy historic houses and tree lined streets that offer both shade and whimsy in the fall.

Once per year, Washington Street is closed from Cornerstone on Madison to the East Washington Academy, and is lined with vendors, artisans and entertainers. This is the Old Washington Street Festival, which is now in its 46th year, and it is an invitation to the community at large to come see the architecture of this historic part of town. Old Washington Street Festival

“Last year we had about 75 vendors,” says Kim Miller, chairman of the East Central Neighborhood Association. “We try to get a lot of different entertainers to come in. This year we are trying to make Saturday more like a big family day. We’re making a super-low-cost, one-day-only vendor area for kids, and one of the stages will be kid entertainers all day.”

The festival typically draws in between 8,000 to 10,000 visitors throughout the weekend, according to Miller. The festival itself is free, but aside from the vendors and entertainment, the main draw is a tour of historic homes and other buildings. “We normally have four to five of the old historic homes open,” says Miller. “It’s a $10 ticket and you get to walk through those and see the architecture.”

The East Central Neighborhood Association formed 46 years ago, with the goal of encouraging homeownership of older houses that had fallen into disrepair. The majority of the homes in the neighborhood had been built between 1880 and 1890, and needed rescue and restoration. “This is the whole reason the festival started,” says Miller. “It was to educate people about the history of this part of town, to get people to come back, to want to live in these houses and not see that history lost.”

Old Washington Street FestivalThe association started the festival as an opportunity for prospective homeowners to tour homes with unique architecture and become familiar with the neighborhood. Now the association works with professors from Ball State University to help record the history of the homes and other historic buildings in the neighborhood. The tour of historic homes is a great opportunity for locals to learn more about their neighborhood.

“One of the professors has some of his architecture students come in,” says Miller. “Some of them will talk a little about the history of each home.”

Many of the homes have been restored to their former glory, and are full of interesting features that arise from bygone eras of architecture. This year the festival falls on September 16 and 17. More information can be found on Facebook or Instagram, and at The festival is run by volunteers, and anyone interested in volunteering can do so through the website.

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