The Levinson Family History in Noblesville


Levinson Family

* Information provided by Hamilton County Historian David Heighway

Neuman David (or N. D. as he was known) and Minnie Levinson emigrated from Germany and came to Noblesville in 1857, where they were one of the few Jewish families. N. D. established a successful clothing store, and the couple raised a family of five children. They believed in education, charity and community involvement. N. D. was highly respected and, while he was never elected to office, his advice was sought on political matters and he had a strong influence. Minnie spent much of her time giving food and clothing to the poor and caring for the sick. She worked extensively with the Ladies Aid Society on several projects, including keeping the library open.

Born and raised in Noblesville, S. O. Levinson (1865-1941) was the Levinsons oldest son. He graduated from Yale in 1888 and began practicing law in Chicago. Levinson was most famous nationally for his work in the concept of outlawing war. He had written most of the text of the document known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact or Pact of Paris. For this, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929. “Sol” also received the Rosenberger Medal from the University of Chicago in 1931 and the French Legion of Honor in 1934.

S. O. Levinson continued his family’s tradition of being involved in charitable work in Noblesville. He and his brother, Harry, contributed money in memory of their father to construct the Noblesville Masonic Lodge in 1915. In 1917, he gave $10,000 towards the construction of a new high school gymnasium. Levinson also gave money for the construction of Forest Park Golf Course in 1927.

The Levinsons’ grandson, Norman Norell, did clothing design in the film industry and created costumes for stage shows before focusing on high fashion. By the 1930s, his designs were attracting national attention and by the 1950s, he was one of the top American fashion designers. Norell, whose birth name was Levinson, was winning fashion awards and creating dresses for Hollywood stars and president’s wives. Norman was on the cover of Life magazine three times. He was laid to rest in Noblesville in 1972 in the family mausoleum in Crownland Cemetery.


* This article is from the February 23, 1938 edition of The Noblesville Ledger. Wording has not been changed from its original printing. It is the announcement of S. O. Levinson donating the plot of land to the city that their house was formerly located. It was torn down long before the city building was built.


S. O. Levinson, nationally known Chicago attorney, who was born and reared in Noblesville and who has done a great deal for the local schools, covering a period of twenty years or more, has presented to the city as a gift the site of the old Levinson homestead on S. 8th Street. This consists of a full city lot with a 66 foot frontage and 132 feet depth. It lies just north of the Houston hotel. On the north side of the property and facing both the street and also the alley is a two-story brick building which at the present time is not occupied.

The deed conveying this property to the city, along with a letter of explanation from Mr. Levinson, reached city attorney Floyd Christian Wednesday morning and were turned over to Mayor Brown. It has been known for some time that Mr. Levinson contemplated such a step but he said that pressing business matters prevented him from attending to the conveyance sooner. Both Mayor Brown and the City Attorney have been talking with Mr. Levinson concerning this matter for six months or longer.

For the past year or two the vacant part of this property has been used as a parking space for cars. Several suggestions have been offered as to what the building might be used for but at the present time no definite program has been worked out. It is of special value to the city for the reason that it adjoins the site to which the City Building is now located.

For many years this was one of the landmarks of Noblesville and the old residence property, which was razed several years ago, was at one time the center of many social events and charity programs. For a generation or more it was the home of Mr. and Mrs. N. D. Levinson, pioneer residents of the city and the parents of S. O. Levinson. Friends of the family recall that the father conducted a clothing store on the south side of the public square and Mrs. Levinson was not only one of the early members of the first Ladies’ Aid Societies ever organized in Noblesville, but she was active in other ways in caring for the poor and needy. Her home was always open to people of this class.

Now this property belongs to the city and perhaps some way may be arranged to commemorate the memory of this popular and helpful family of the early days of Noblesville.