Endangered Phillips Temple avoids demolition, for now

August 15, 2013
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Indiana Landmarks has bought more time in its efforts to save the downtown Phillips Temple at 1226 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.

phillips temple
                              endangered landmarks 225pxThe city’s Regional Center Hearing Examiner had been set to hear a request Thursday from Indianapolis Public Schools to demolish the vacant but historic structure to make way for parking for Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School to the south.

IPS bought the 90-year-old building with the four towering white columns at its entrance, and adjacent land, in early 2011 for $319,000.

But IPS is giving the building a reprieve now that a couple of potential buyers appear to be interested in saving it. Former IPS Superintendent Eugene White had accepted a request from Indiana Landmarks to give preservationists until the end of last year to try to save the building by finding a buyer willing to renovate it.

“For the last 18 months we have tried to find a buyer for the building and we have not been able to,” said Doug Bye, IPS’ director of facilities. “However, there has been a group that has expressed interest.”

A well-known apartment developer that both IPS and Indiana Landmarks declined to name is considering converting the building into a residential development.

And Mark Dollase, vice president of preservation services for Indiana Landmarks, says a community-based organization is interested as well.

“The good thing is there are options for the building and it doesn’t have to be an eyesore,” he said.

The building needs a lot of work, though. The roof is unstable, the walls are bowing and windows have been left open, exposing the interior to the elements. It could take between $1 million and $2 million to get it functional, Dollase said.

Bye at IPS said that if the school district ultimately sells the building it likely would arrange an agreement with the owner to use some of the on-site parking.

Indiana Landmarks placed the Phillips Temple on its latest “10 Most Endangered” list released in April.

  • Expensive Parking Lot
    $300k in order to just acquire the building in order to tear it down (and spend additional demolition $) to build a parking lot!?!? There's a waste of tax payer dollars.
  • More Expensive Rehab
    This building needs to be torn down whether for parking or new structure doesn't matter. There is absolutely no architectural significance left to this building; all the stained glass was removed years ago, the interior has been gutted of all the original elements and it is structurally unstable. Just because something is old doesn't make it of historical or architectural significance.
  • Lesson Learned
    I thought Indianapolis learned its' lesson after the horrible loss of so many historic buildings in the 50's and 60's, like the old Marion county courthouse replaced by the city/county albatros...errr building, and the English Theatre on the circle torn down for freaking JC penny, as well as other losses like the Claypool hotel.
  • Most of the students ride buses
    Yes IPS acquiring this property is a complete waste of tax dollars. The existing parking is more than sufficient. The school has one large adjacent lot and another smaller lot directly to the north - the two lots are never full during school hours. Attucks does not have a parking shortage. It's just a blatant land grab.
  • RC
    Right away I am going away to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming again to read more news.
  • Historic Value
    I'm not sure how acquainted with Indiana Landmarks the above commenter, Joe, is...but I tend to trust Landmarks' opinion of historical and architectural significance a bit more than Joe's. Just looking at the picture here, I see its value...a pedimented Temple-front portico supported by Doric columns makes it a fine example of Classical Revival architecture in my book. The unfortunate fact that its integrity has been compromised by the removal of beautiful features is tragic, but certainly not as tragic as the loss of the entire structure would be. Glad to see the community striving to find a way to save a bit of what makes Indianapolis unique.

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