The Indianapolis Home Show is the largest and oldest of its kind in the nation. The inaugural home show in Indianapolis was held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in April 1922, under the name Indianapolis Home Complete Exposition. The purpose of this initial home show was to promote home ownership in the city of Indianapolis, and was rightfully sponsored by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors. In a few short years, the show would boast nearly 150 exhibitors, and would be a yearly attraction to the greater Indianapolis region.
Visitors to the first home show were delighted by its centerpiece, and actual five room bungalow house, which was auctioned off to the winner of an essay contest. The essay was to be written on the topic of, “Why One Should Own His Own Home in Indianapolis.” This model home still stands to this day where it was moved post-exhibition to its location at 13th Street and Emerson Avenue in Indianapolis.
The concept of the show was developed by J. Frank Cantwell, who was the first to implement this type of show in the United States. The purpose was to introduce a higher level of innovation and home building to local builders and home purchasers. Cantwell would hold the position of director of the home show for nearly four decades. Under his direction the show would hold design competitions for its luxurious display home, which turned into a major draw for visitors to the show.
In the following years, the show would continue to boast its centerpiece home real-life home display, until financial concerns during the Great Depression would cause home show organizers to forgo the home display for a more practical garden exhibition instead. The following year, the Indianapolis Real Estate Board would choose to relieve itself of sponsorship towards the show. This would in turn bring on the formation of Indianapolis Home Show, Inc. which has continued to run the annual event to this day.
Much to home show enthusiast’s dismay, the Indianapolis Home Show was temporarily suspended from 1942 to 1945 due to a shortage of building materials. During this time the fairgrounds was utilized by the army for wartime activities. However, in the mid-forties, the home show would return in all its glory and would be pushed into a high level of recognition after that year’s centerpiece home was featured in a nine page spread in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. That year, the home show would also officially change its name to from the Indianapolis Home Complete Exposition to the Indianapolis Home Show.
Over the years the home show has been used to introduce the most innovative and upcoming products in home supply. Visitors marveled at electric refrigerators, garbage disposals, dishwashers, and central air conditioning units. In the 1950’s the home show would aid in popularizing the Ranch home to Indianapolis area residents. The show continued to steadily grow over the years with visitors flocking to the show year after year to be the first to see the latest products in home appliances and technology.
Today the show has continued to grow to be one of the largest home shows in the nations drawing over 100,000 visitors annually. In July of 2008 the Indianapolis Home Show was sold to Marketplace Events, the owner of over 38 such home shows. The 2008 show will bring a partnership with Ty Pennington, TV personality and leader in the forefront of new home building technology, as a spokesman and general consultant for the content of the show. Recent shows have featured two centerpiece homes, a fully designed English cottage, a model log cabin, and the newest products in outdoor living, kitchens and bath, home décor, and much more for the Indianapolis Home Show visitor to experience and enjoy.