The “Hoosier Poet” became a national celebrity through his poetry and performances, as he introduced audiences across America to the vernacular and attitudes of the Indiana countryside through his “dialect poetry.” He performed to packed theaters and sold thousands of anthologies of his poetry, and at the peak of his career moved into the home at 528 Lockerbie Street. He resided here until his death on July 22, 1916.
After his death in 1916, Mr. Riley’s friends formed the Riley Memorial Association and addressed the glaring need in the Indianapolis community for a children’s hospital. Riley Hospital for Children opened its doors in 1924. Now called the Riley Children’s Foundation, the organization that began as a way to honor a poet’s legacy now includes the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and Billie Lou Wood Visitor Center, Camp Riley for children with physical disabilities (located in Martinsville, Ind.) and Riley Hospital for Children, one of the premier children’s research hospitals in the world.