McDoel Gardens is the name given to the small area west of the railroad tracks that previously bisected the south side of Bloomington, south of 1st Street and north of Hillside Avenue. It provided housing for many limestone cutters through the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Originally, the area surrounding Rogers Street consisted primarily of farmland, including the Morton Dodd and Gentry family farms. In the late 1800's, the Louisville, New Albany, and Chicago Railroad line came through, and no fewer than eleven mills were quickly established nearby, including:
- Henley Stone Company Mill - 1893
- Bloomington Cut Stone Company Mill - 1906
- Hoadley Stone Company Mill - 1906
- Radley Mill - 1907
In addition, Bloomington Hospital was established on the north end of the neighborhood in 1905. When the nearby Monon rail yard was created, more housing for workers was needed, and the neighborhood grew again. The neighborhood had generally been known as McDoel Gardens for some years, after W. H. McDoel, the popular president of the Monon from 1899-1909. In 1910, the yard took that name formally.
In 1919, the Showers Brothers Company purchased 70 acres of the Dodds farm for a factory. More housing was needed, and the Gentry farm was platted into the Dixie Highway addition in 1923.
In 1940 RCA took over the Showers factory, and although successful, few new houses were built in the neighborhood. The mills had been closing steadily since the Great Depression. RCA provided the majority of employment for local workers until the 2000's, when the plant was finally closed. The factory buildings were demolished in 2002. What remains is a residential neighborhood with many small houses built between 1900 and 1930, several with interesting stonework due to the great stonecutting skills of the workers who had built them.