Postmarked 1917 Independent Turnverein Post Card, (courtesy HistoricIndianapolis.com)
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about the Indianapolis Turnverein, in Sharon Butsch Freeland’s previously published article: Indianapolis Turnvereins