Old Centrum to close

January 31, 2008
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Old CentrumThe Old Centrum is scheduled to close at the end of March, leaving an uncertain future for the former Central Avenue United Methodist Church at 12th and Central. The 80,000-square-foot Romanesque Revival structure was built in 1892. Since 1999, it has served as home for 20 nonprofit organizations. But Old Centrum Foundation, the group that manages the building, doesn't have enough money to keep it open, said Marie Beason, the foundation's executive director. The Foundation is working with Bob Bates of BB Construction Management to secure the building's roof, masonry and windows until another use is found. The group put about $1.5 million into a renovation several years ago. It would take between $8 million and $10 million to return the building "to its original glory," Beason said. They are looking for a partner interested in redevelopment. Any ideas?
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  • How about a church?
  • The obvious answer is condos! OMG CONDOS!
  • A Massive Homeless shelter, its near a bus line!
  • Novel idea, Brad. What happened to the congregations that formerly inhabited these old churches? It's a real shame to see such beautiful and historic structures sit empty or be used as office buildings. Or defiled with hideous condo additions. The only reason I can think of for a church not wanting to use such a structure would be the maintenance challenge, which unfortunately is a real issue.
  • While I think it was nice of them to allow the not-for-profit groups to rent space in the building for little or no rent, it obviously wasn't a sound financial plan. It's a beautiful building, that even in its present state, is still usable and worth saving. The circular auditorium is a wonderful space that could be used for plays/shows. I was in there in October and, though a bit rundown, seemed like a great space to me. I hope they can get the money they need to renovate it.

    I think it would be a great community center. There are many rooms/offices that could be used as classrooms for tutoring, there is a gymnasium that could be used for sports, and the main part of the church is still beautiful and could still be rented for weddings. I think there's also a working organ still in there as well.
  • of course a return to it's former use as a church would be great, but how about an antheneum part 2?? what a cool space that could be. plus you still have the main part of the building for use as a theater/gallery space/etc!
  • Center Township is fairly well saturated with converted warehouses, factories, and churches as art-space. The building has the good-news, bad-news aspect of being highly visible, yet not accessible. It's on a one-way street and not conveniently close to an interstate interchange, even though it's right next to I-65. For the size building, it is severely parking-challenged.

    I feel sorry for the community based organizations that have to deal with this...it's too good to demolish, and too challenged to find an easy re-use.

    Perhaps an entrepreneurial new mega-church wants to be in the heart of Indianapolis instead of the suburbs?
  • I would say turn it into a small private school. Since there is a gym, and a few offices, I would think that it would make perfect sense.
  • Turn it into a mega dance club called pRAy.
  • The Old Centrum is a great building but heaven only knows what to do with it. The location is
  • In any case the historic exterior and interior rooms should be preserved at all costs(even if it means chaining oneself to this important peice of our culture). This is one of the larger more extravagant churches in the downtown area. I stand strongly against it being turned into condos as they rarely preserve the good aspects of the structure. I would love to see it fully restored and turned into perhaps a theater or social center for the Old north. It is sad to see another local church leave, but at the same time it could be a good thing for this historic structure. This isn't like the smaller churches downtown being converted into condos, this is a large church that plays a major role in the history of the near northside and 19th century Indianapolis.
  • I would like Helen to actually name the role this church has played in history. This mentality is the reason that Indianapolis is seen as stagnant even during periods of rapid growth and development. Sometimes older structures have to go, sometimes they have to be converted for more practical modern uses. And we don't need a theater on every block of downtown. Not until there is sufficient foot traffic in the area. Most of the abominations being built in the city are due to unnecessary and costly pandering to historic preservation zealots by maintaining facades that are not marketable to the general public and/or combining them with more modern additions that clash architecturally with the structure. That's why I agree that the mongrel church/condos are awful. Within the developers' rights of course, but still awful.

    Look, my mom got married to her first husband in this church, but if it cannot provide a purpose that allows it to pay its own maintenance costs, and no community or church organization sees it fit to raise money to save, then it probably should get converted into whatever purpose best serves the area. Demanding that the structure be left as is or restored will only cause it to stay its current course, which is decay. Sometimes we have to let the buildings we love go when it is their time, and now might be the Old Church's time.
  • This church was a center of religous and community activity in the old north side during the turn of the century. The structure is one of the few Romanisque structures left in Indianapolis as many have been torn down for progress or urban renewal and to tear this down would to rip out a major chunk of Indianapolis culture, architecture, and history. If properly restored and re used it would contribute more to the community and city rather it be torn down and in the most likely case, become a vacant grass lot until a developer comes along and when they do some group will state that it is a 'park'. The structure should be properly restored and saved due to its massive amount of detailing and craftsmanship. The Old North side would also lose a vast amount of history and beauty if this structure was torn down(as well as its only proper sort of skyline peice). It is a land mark and should be properly restored. If the State house offices moved out of the State house(highly unlikely) we wouldn't tear it down or turn it into condos now would we?
  • This church was a center of religious and community activity in the old north side during the turn of the century. The structure is one of the few Romanesque structures left in Indianapolis as many have been torn down for “progress” or “urban renewal” and to tear this down would to rip out a major chunk of Indianapolis culture, architecture, and history. If properly restored and re used it would contribute more to the community and city rather it be torn down and in the most likely case, become a vacant grass lot until a developer comes along and when they do some group will state that it is a ‘park’. The structure should be properly restored and saved due to its massive amount of detailing and craftsmanship. The Old North side would also lose a vast amount of history and beauty if this structure was torn down (as well as its only proper sort of skyline piece). It is a land mark and should be properly restored. If the State house offices moved out of the State house(highly unlikely) we wouldn’t tear it down or turn it into condos now would we?
  • Amen Tony, amen.
  • Stand your ground Helen!
    It's the character of structures like this and the vision of the historic preservation
    zealots that keep downtown and especially the Old North Side the truly
    interesting and unique places they are. If we wanted new, drywall-clad,
    cookie-cutter construction with an architectural style that only tries to
    emulate (but never really does) a structure like this we'd all move to Carmel.
    A good re-use of the building? I have no idea. . . .but suggesting that
    it's time (for this building) to go is crazy.
  • I agree Matthew.
    Is it time for Indianapolis culture to go?
    Such systems have led to the loss of our court house, english hotel, and much of the historic milesquare. These structures are what make Indy, Indy! This structure will be a marvel for decades to come while most new structures will shortly become eyesores due to lack of timeless detailing and methods.
  • How about an IKEA?
  • How about a Banquet hall. It would be a beautiful place to host events like weddings, large parties, etc. I dont know really, just an idea.
  • I think CDC Guy might be on to something...Perhaps an “entrepreneurial” new mega-church wants to be in the heart of Indianapolis instead of the suburbs?

    I think healthy and vibrant communities need more than condos and first floor retail. I a thriving urban core is incomplete without places of worship. Many of the churches that are now being turned into condos played a significant role in the community and I think it's plausible that some of the suburban mega churches would have an interest in reestablishing a presence in the city.
  • That church is an icon on the near north side. I hope it doesnt stay empty and I
    hope someone cleans it up and makes it nice again
  • Dang. I qwas gonna say IKEA.

    Maybe a Don's Guns? New Jail?
  • Maybe the YMCA could utilize the extra space. They seem a little cramped in the antheneum and I think the ONS neighborhood would embrace the community gathering organization.
  • I still ike the idea of a private school, charter school, parachioal school. The gym is decent size, they still have a cafeteria set up. Plenty of offices, a real nice stage and performance area. The basement is huge as well. Most of the building is handicap accessible with an elevator and ramps.

    Santa Land was held here everyyear as well. I hope they can continue to have it there.
  • Isn't this the same place that had all the problems with bird poop on the roof?
  • Tony wrote: I would like Helen to actually name the role this church has played in history....

    I'm not Helen, but I can answer: Methodist Hospital was founded because of leftover funds from a church conference held there.
  • The problem with the suburban mega-church idea is parking. There is no parking lot to speak of for the church building, and IHPC would never let them go through and bulldoze half the neighborhood like many churches do.
  • Knocking down the Morris Butler house for parking is probably a bad option.

    How about extending the downtown viaduct and creating parking under the Interstate?

    Or a transit-oriented church? They could create an express bus from Fishers (ICE Sunday) for suburban members who want an authentic Inner City Worship Experience before Colts games and trips to Circle Centre or Sunday Brunch.

    That's the ticket: a Conner Prairie style historic religious experience for suburban churchgoers! A real church, with real stained glass, soaring vaulted roof, pews, an organ, and no video screen!
  • I am not Helen either, but it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the Centrum was the center for many movers and shakers of Indy. Especially being on the northside where anyone who was anyone lived. I would bet a look at the parish roster would give you a who's who of Indy.
  • Is there a website for this church where I could see some photos of the interior? I've driven by it on I-65 for years, but have never really gone looking for what is in there...I'm intrigued by the circular auditorium and would love to see that...
  • I grew up in Indy but moved away 4 years ago to Los Angeles (uuuggh..). I've always considered myself somewhat of an Indy-phile but can't quite seem to place this church. It is the one with the metal clad roof which is highly visible from 65/70, right?

    If so, I've always enjoyed looking out the car window to see that roof, for some reason. It's kind of like a landmark.
  • Turn it into a casino. Look what it's done for French Lick.

    There is not the population density for a community center, another non-profit theater, or church. If not, Tony has the right idea.
  • Marshall,

    Yes, that is the CENTRUM.
  • Casino...Blackjack and Bibles
  • Yea, how could you miss! Folks are always praying to win.
  • oh and they can put neon-lights all over it and a big CHURCH CASINO on the tower! That would in no way say trashy! :D
  • And tear down half the neighborhood for parking?
  • Answering my own question after reading the IndyStar article this morning - here is their website:

    www.oldcentrum.org

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