Then & Now: Independent Turnverein, 9th & Meridian

Written by on March 31, 2016 in Then & Now - No comments
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HI_Turnverein Meridian 9th

Postmarked 1917 Independent Turnverein Post Card, (courtesy

How lucky Indianapolis is that such detailed and well-crafted buildings still stand today–an unapologetic and ornate vestige of  yesteryear. This one, a magnificent red brick and limestone building started life as the clubhouse for the Independent Turnverein, on the northwest corner of Meridian and 9th streets, just north/across from another historic building much in need of an equally sympathetic restoration. But we digress.

The Independent Turnverein hit the local news in January 1913 with a rendering and announcement that a $120,000 new clubhouse would be built on Meridian and Pratt (now 9th) Streets, after selling their smaller clubhouse on the northeast corner of Illinois and Ohio Streets.

Independent Turnverein

Independent Turnverein 2016 (Photo courtesy Laura Neidig)

We think we have posh gyms now, but the elaborate plan of then advertised the future features of the new building, including: a natatorium surrounded by dressing rooms and showers; an indoor gymnasium and some allocated space outdoors for exercise as well; club rooms, parlors, and lounging rooms for a slower pace; billiard rooms and a rathskeller in the basement; a ballroom for dances and entertainments; and a roof garden atop it all.

1915 Sanborn map, showing recently completed Turnverein, courtesy IUPUI Digital Archives

1915 Sanborn map, showing recently completed Independent Turnverein, courtesy Digital Collection IUPUI

Advertisement Turnverein

Classes at the Turnverein started before all of the building was complete and dedicated

The clubhouse held its official dedication ceremonies May 27, 28, 29, 1914–starting with a formal ball for the 1300 members of the club and their invited guests on the May 27. The following days, doors were thrown open to the general public, and members of other Turnvereins. Another bustling Indianapolis clubhouse was born.

1913 newspaper announcement of new clubhouse

January 1913: First rendering for the new clubhouse revealed

Learn more about the Indianapolis Turnverein, in Sharon Butsch Freeland’s previously published article: Indianapolis Turnvereins

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About the Author

Tiffany Benedict Browne is the founder and driving force behind She loves learning, sharing and inspiring Indy's stories.

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