Sparkling Towers Signal Exciting New Era for Indiana Landmarks

Published in Indiana Preservationist

The sun glinted dazzlingly off newly-gilded pinnacles atop the Indiana Landmarks Center in July as the restoration-in-progress at the former Methodist church reached the tops of the building's seven towers. The gilded caps offer a tantalizing hint of the bright future in store for the structure that has been shrouded in scaffolding since this spring at 1201 Central Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.

The golden peaks and the scaffolding, as well as a new patterned metal shingle roof and comprehensive masonry repointing, are only the outward signs of a motivated enterprise. Scaffolding also fills the interior, as craftsmen restore the domed former sanctuary from the top down.

The repairing, painting, and gilding are all part of a Herculean effort by Indiana Landmarks-made possible by the generous support of Bill, Gayle and Carl Cook-to transform the dilapidated former church into Indian Landmarks Center, a gorgeous cultural performance hall and our organization's new headquarters.

In addition to their commitment to fund a majority of the $10 million project, the Cooks are also managing the restoration. George Ridgway, Chief Architect for the Cook Group and the overseer of the massive undertaking, recounted some of the project's challenges. "There were seventeen different floor levels in the complex. By eliminating one and figuring out how the rest can fit together, we've made almost all of it handicapped-accessible."

Not every aspect was as daunting. "The repointing is almost finished," Ridgway continued. "We anticipated needing to bring in ten thousand bricks to repair the masonry before the project began, but because of the quality of the existing bricks we only needed about two thousand."

Since work started in April, things have been rocketing toward a scheduled grand opening of the two oldest sections of the complex, including the former sanctuary and Sunday school-now Cook Grand Theater and Cook Hall, April 15-17, 2011. "We've made it our top priority to raise the funds needed to complete the 1922 office wing that will become our headquarters, as well as the landscaped parking lot and courtyard garden," says Indiana Landmarks' President Marsh Davis.


Sparkling Towers Signal Exciting New Era for Indiana Landmarks (PDF 6.30 Mb)

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