State eyes downtown site for $17M archives project

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State officials are investigating creating a $17 million headquarters for the state archives on downtown’s American Legion Mall as part of Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.

In a “request for information,” the Indiana Department of Administration has asked real estate developers to submit plans for the project. It would include renovating an existing four-story landmark at 777 N. Meridian St. and building a similar structure to the south that would serve as state-of-the-art storage space.

The Neoclassical limestone building at 777 N. Meridian St. was vacated earlier this year by its main occupant, the Indiana office of the American Legion. State officials have identified it and adjacent land as the primary option to house the archives, said State Archivist Jim Corridan.

The state’s archives—including thousands of priceless documents from Indiana’s founding and before—currently are stored in a dilapidated building at 6440 E. 30th St. They were moved there in 2001 as a temporary measure while the state library was being remodeled, but ended up remaining at the site.

“It’s really not geared to be an archival facility,” Corridan said. “For example, there is no climate control.”

In project parameters outlined for developers, the state has estimated construction costs of $17.3 million. That would include renovating the existing, 36,000-square-foot building and creating a 36,000-square-foot addition to the south.

The addition would house the archives. They include the original 1816 and 1851 state constitutions, and all the laws passed by the Legislature, as well as court decisions, business incorporations, and records of inmates and mental health patients. The total number of documents number more than 300 million pages.

The existing building would serve as office space, including administrative functions for the archives. The “to do” list for shoring up the building includes upgrades to its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, installation of a security system, and exterior restoration.

A prospective construction schedule in the state’s request ballparks July 2015 as the start of renovations, as well as the addition. Work on the existing building would be finished by October 2016, and the addition would be completed by December 2017.

Submissions from developers are due Aug. 29. The Department of Administration is waiting to see what developers suggest before deciding how next to proceed with the project, said State Architect Jason Larrison.

“The request for information provides us with the most amount of flexibility,” Larrison said. “The strength of the submittals we receive will help determine the direction we head in.”

Gov. Mike Pence’s administration envisions the creation of the archive center as part of the state’s 2016 bicentennial celebration, Corridan said.

The Indiana Bicentennial Commission is in the process of fundraising for projects related to the celebration, including the archives, Larrison said.


  • Finally!
    I volunteer for the state archives, and that building they are in now is a hazard. Whatever it costs to renovate the site downtown, it will be cheaper than making the current location workable. It's beyond time they moved the archives into a proper building.
  • My two cents
    I agree with most of the previous posters. This is a capital idea.
  • The mall's layout
    Right now, there is one building along Meridian but two along Pennsylvania. Given that the addition's square footage is listed as identical to the current building, I believe that the buildings will match the buildings across the mall. No site lines will be affected, and in fact this construction will support symmetry in the mall.
  • not on lawn
    Peabody69, if you will read the entire article, it states that the new building will be built SOUTH and ADJACENT to the current building at 777 Meridian, which means it will be up at street and sidewalk level, not on the Mall lawn. No sight lines should be disturbed from the library to downtown.
  • Too bad...
    The State wouldn't help the Indiana American Legion make needed renovations to the building, which was aging rapidly even when I worked there 1988-1990. I AM glad, however, that they plan to renovate and use it, as I was concerned about what would happen to the building. It is really cool, but needs work.
  • Indianapolis lack of standards
    No city oversight on design is good. Indianapolis would approve aluminum siding and cement board!
  • Neoclassical is fascist? We better tell the folks from the mid 1700's they were using fascist architecture.
  • question
    wonder if this new addition will disrupt the views of the library, downtown or the use of the lawn for special events.
    • exempt from local Tim
      Tim, historically both the State and the Feds have been exempt from City zoning or development standards, although they have attempted to have some respect, courtesy and cooperation for their locations.
    • Beautiful example...
      of Fascist architecture. The Mall was built during the heyday of Mussolini and Adolph incorporating the design elements of the period. Nothing wrong with it, just appreciate it for what it is.
    • Archives
      What a wonderful idea! I was worried about what would go into the space the Indiana legion was leaving. Hopefully there will be an exhibit area like the National Archives building in DC.
    • approval process?
      Great use of an existing historic building on the American Legion Mall, and a fitting part of the state of Indiana's bicentennial projects! Does anyone know the approval process this building will need to go through? I don't believe the mall is part of an historic district, or on the National Register. Here's to finishing the project in a sensitive and fitting way!
    • A Good Thing
      I applaud state officials for moving to address the Indiana State Archives building issue. It is long overdue and necessary. The downtown plan employs a vacant state-owned building in a prime location that will attract visitors from near and far.

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