Indiana Landmarks adds diner to threatened list

May 5, 2010
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Plainfield DinerThe 1950s-era Plainfield Diner at right has made the newest list of the 10 Most Endangered Indiana Landmarks. The diner, which closed in 2009, is one of five new buildings on the list. Bush Stadium remains on the annual list compiled by the not-for-profit Indiana Landmarks organization. The full list is here. Here's more on the Plainfield Diner from Indiana Landmarks:

In the mid-twentieth century, 5,000 roadside diners were favored stops for blue-highway motorists. Now diners represent a dying breed of landmark, rendered obsolete by fast-food chains, urban sprawl, and interstates. So when the Plainfield Diner closed in 2009, a preservation alarm sounded.

The Plainfield Diner on the town’s Main Street has served guests at a neighboring motel and motorists traveling the National Road (U.S. 40) since 1954, when it was manufactured in New Jersey and transported by rail to Indiana. The diner’s Streamline Moderne-style, coffee cup sign and pink tile interior created a setting inspired by speed and the motor age. Especially popular in the 1940s and 1950s, diners drew patrons looking for convenient, made-to-order food—hot breakfasts, tenderloin sandwiches, chili platters, and steaming coffee—at cheap prices.

The Plainfield Health Department closed the restaurant last summer, citing structural deterioration. The landmark sits on a sprawl-afflicted section of the National Road at Ronald Reagan Parkway where the land is more valuable than the structure. Financially unable to repair the diner, the owner has listed it for sale at a price based on the land value—far too high for anyone interested in keeping the site as a diner. Many people in the Plainfield and the preservation community recognize the diner’s rarity and want to save it.

Any ideas on how to save the diner?

  • Move It
    Take the diner and move it down town! That would be awsome.
  • Diner
    Good idea, Shane. How about finding a small site downtown and naming it the "Super Bowl Diner!" Perhaps the CIB could buy it and put it on their massive parking lot. Probably wouldn't take up more than 10 parking spaces. And how much revenue $$ could they turn that into over the years???

    Or, how about somewhere on the grounds of the White River State Park. Could be cool!!!
  • Diner
    Great idea. We need to e-mail this article to Indiana Landmarks and the Mayor's office. Maybe this would fit in the middle of Georgia Street. Ratio does preservation work; get on board.
  • Great ideas. The trailer is all that is really historic. it would be easy to move and should be inexpensive to set up elsewhere. It will never survive where it is now.
  • Move
    I love these ideas to move it downtown. How about the SE corner of South and Missouri? The juxtaposition with LOS would be hilarious and it could draw on the hotels to the west.
  • Love this diner, love the ideas
    Excellent ideas for sure, LOVE the White River idea, that would be a BIG hit for sure. I could also vote to move that bad boy to Fountain Square or the Martindale on the Monon area. I love that little building!
  • Join the Facebook page!
    Let's get the ball rolling on moving The Diner downtown! Join the Facebook page!
  • Great ideas!
    Everyone has great ideas. At the very least it is a structure that could be used in the Indiana Historical Society. Would be a nice addition to the Exp Indiana exhibition.
  • Oooo
    I like it. It could be like Pinks in L.A. - Move a King David's in it. Plenty of space near LOS for people to wait in line - put up a portable screen and make it a drive-in movie place for non game days.
  • Or...
    --Next to the State Fairgrounds parking, south of 38th along the Monon Trail.

    --Vacant lot at 24th & Meridian.

    --Old Payton Wells body shop location south of 16th & Penn

    --16th & MLK

    --16th St. near Main in Speedway

    --NE corner of Keystone & 62nd

    --Along Washington in front of Marsh Irvington

    --surface parking lot at Penn & Vermont

    --on the "canal greenspace" adjacent to the state garage, across from Ind. Hist. Society
  • Free?
    Perhaps the owner of the land would be willing to part with the structure for free if somone were willing to move it. The price they're asking is mostly for the land value and not the building.
  • Location
    I think it would be great to see the structure saved, but I think that part of the historic significance of the structure would be lost if it were moved to downtown Indianapolis.

    A building is not just historic in and of itself, it owes some of it's significance to context. Therefore, removing it from US 40 would degrade it's historic significance as a motor stop.

    That being said, perhaps it would fit into the US 40/Washington Street revival.
    the diner should be donated to the Indiana State Museum. then it could be part of a display or exhibit on the national road.
  • save the diner
    how about contacting the Indiana State Museum and let them figure out a plan? Maybe a display in the musuem--- that would preserve it for all time.
  • While leaving it right where it is would be preferable, that will not happen. It would be nice to put it on 40 somewhere in town, but at this point I do not think it is critical. What is critical is putting it somewhere where it can be successful and appreciated by large numbers of people.
  • Move
    I've been to that diner in the past and there isn't anything around it but a run down trailer park and a couple of seedy motels. Since this was a manufactured building, I don't think moving it would lose that much of it's history. In fact, I think moving it downtown would bring some more history downtown after losing so much of it in the 60's and 70's.
  • Save the entire neighborhood
    This isn't far from the ROnald REagan parkway...if only they could rehab that entire part of the community it's near some nice neighborhoods just a few blocks north. If they'd ever finish the Parkway it would revitalize this blighted part of the westside...i say leave it where it is..put up a historical maker...put a business in..and rehab the entire area....and make life easier on us westsiders by finishing the dang Parkway...would make my commutes 10 trillion times better.
  • Diner
    The Indiana Oxygen building was moved from Lillyland to save a wonderful building. This project should not be difficult: if the owner will sell/donate it to a worthy cause and we can find an "appropriate" site. [I want to be a cook - diner food with the highest quality.] I understand Mark Dollase of Indiana Landmarks is the point person for their office. I expect he is reading this blog and doing what they can to make the project.
  • I agree
    I agree with these statements 100% I drive by this building everyday - it's part of the history and heritage of US40 in Plainfield. Maybe it's future use does not include it being used as a diner but perhaps a visitor center or small "museum" dedicated to the Town Of Plainfields' history with the Old National Road.
  • Cash in on Kitsch
    Don't like the idea of it just being for display or a museum. It has to do what diners do best--serve great food in a friendly atmosphere. I enjoyed the Plainfield Diner many times with my kids. They loved the unique experience. In the right locale and with a facelift, it could be a smashing success. Nostalgia, kitsch, whatever you call it--it's in!
  • diner
    I still want to be one of their cooks; diner food with pizzaz, it's not just a burger anymore. It is a great burger.
  • Tailgating at The Oasis
    I am in favor of moving it Downtown,Near Lucus Oil. There is even a knock off of a Diner inside the Luc. The owner of the Diner is my father and a Season ticket holder for the COLTS since day 1. What could be better than tailgating at home?DP
  • leave it
    i think it should stay where its at and be fixed up and it wouldnt take alot a car show there or a sock hop to raise money to fix it would be there in a matter of months.
  • This is Plainfield's Hertiage
    It needs to be moved and restored in the Plainfield Area, maybe at the corner of 40 and Ronald Reagan parkway or at the Metropolis. Moving it to Indianapolis is crazy.
  • diner
    Downtown Plainfield, not downtown Indy.
  • Keep in Plainfield
    If the Diner hasn't been moved yet and still sits in it's original location. It needs to be along US40 in Plainfield. Not as a Museum but open to the public like it was back in the day. Wish I could afford it. It would be restored and serving food with a jukebox playing vinyl 45's. Would be a blast to run that thing.

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