The Cumberland Historic District [†] is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history: to wit, the Old National Road or US 40. Cumberland, Indiana, named for the city in Maryland where National Road construction began, retains a unique place in the history of the state. Its beginnings were directly related to construction of the National Road, and Cumberland, Indiana supplied men and materials to construct portions of the road. Originally, the road was just a grubbed out pathway that was later modernized with planks. Cumberland offered early travelers overnight lodging, prepared food, and stabling for their animals. Cumberland citizens manned a local toll collection point where travelers had to pay for the use of the thoroughfare. The main street of the town for many years served as the right‑of‑way for interurban trains, and Stop 17 for the Terre Haute, Indianapolis, and Eastern trains was in Cumberland. When the automobile supplanted the interurban as a primary means of transportation, Cumberland businesses and local retailers supported travelers with goods and services to assist them along their way.
The significance of Cumberland's Historic District is two-fold. First, it retains a contiguous collection of buildings that symbolize Cumberland's main period of economic growth (1880 to 1950), and the buildings aligned along the sides of US 40 provide a physical and visual image of this time period. Secondly, the Cumberland Historic District retains, at present, its historical significance as a community founded for the express purpose of supporting the transportation of people and things - in the beginning the National Road, next came the interurban trains, and finally the modern automobile. Unlike other Marion County, Indiana communities that owed their existence to transportation such as Allisonville, Castleton, Augusta, and Beech Grove, Cumberland has not lost its singular historical identity through the encroachment of suburbia. To this day, when anyone mentions Cumberland an immediate association of the community with the road that gave it its name, is made.
† John Warner, Cumberland Historic District, 2001, nomination document, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed July, 2021.
Heflin Street • Munsie Street • Warehouse Streeet • Welland Street