Indiana celebrates its bicentennial in 2016, and Monroe County is excited to be a part of the celebration! Learn more about Indiana and Monroe County's first 200 years, and see how you can get involved in this important commemoration!


Monroe Bicentennial County Coordinator: Laura Newton, Assistant Director/COO, Visit Bloomington, 812-355-7721
County historian: Joyce Poling,

History of Monroe County 

Monroe County was formed in 1818 from portions of Orange County. It was named for James Monroe, fifth President of the United States. Here's a brief history of the county, as described by Glenda Murray, a volunteer for the Monroe County History Center.


Monroe County and Bloomington are founded by settlers from the Upland South (Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia).


A state seminary opens in Bloomington; it is later renamed Indiana College in 1828 and then Indiana University in 1838.


The railroad comes to Monroe County, leading to increased growth in Harrodsburg, Ellettsville and Bloomington.


Charles Showers starts a carpentry business on the square; his sons purchase it in 1868 and build the Showers Brothers Furniture Factory.


The limestone industry grows after the Civil War. John Matthews comes to Ellettsville from England and begins quarrying with newer technology.

late 19th century

Twin Lakes, Leonard Springs and Lake Griffy are built in response to a need for clean water.


The Local Council of Women open Bloomington Hospital in response to the death of a young man who was hit and killed by a train.


The Showers company grows so much that it pays one fourth of Bloomington's total tax income and employs 2,500 people. Also in this decade, Indiana limestone provides 80% of the limestone used in construction across the United States.


Morgan-Monroe State Forest is created by the state.


The Depression and erosion had negative consequences for area farmers. Construction projects from the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration and other New Deal programs employed many local men and led to new sidewalks, retaining walls and IU buildings including Bryan Hall and the IU Auditorium.


Hoosier National Forest is created by the federal government.


William and Gayle Cook move to Bloomington and start a medical device company in their spare bedroom. Cook companies now employ 9,000 people.


The county population grew from 59,200 to 84,800. The US Corps of Engineers built Monroe Lake for flood control; it soon became a new water source for the county.


A debate about whether to tear down the courthouse and create a new one finally ended when residents and the county government gathered enough money to renovate the old courthouse.