Former Friends Church, 1249 N. Alabama – Photo by Ryan Hamlett
The former Friends Church building at 13th and Alabama in the Old North Side has had a busy year so far. The nearly 120-year-old roof finally gave way this past winter, collapsing and exposing the historic church to the elements. Fortunately, the Friends, which had been on the market for quite some time, was finally purchased not long after damage to the roof, perhaps sparing the building from complete destruction. Like the Fletcher Place United Methodist Church and Meridian Street Methodist Episcopal Church before it, the Friends building will see new life as apartments. Construction is currently underway on what will be called the Englewood Lofts, offering “unique one & two bedroom units” according to the sign next to its front steps.
Constructed in 1895, the Romanesque Revival church was the second location of the Quaker-faithed Friends. Dedicated by Massachusetts Quaker and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Benjamin Franklin Trueblood, it replaced their first home, circa 1856, which was at the intersection of Fort Wayne Ave, Delaware and St. Clair Streetss . Sometime between 1915 and 1927, a second gable roof addition was built onto the original structure, housing classroom and office space, as well as an upper-level gymnasium, seen here from 2010:
In 1955, ground was broken on the Friends’ third and present location at 3030 Kessler Boulevard East Drive, after which the Alabama Street building changed hands several times, housing the Galilee Baptist and Missionary Baptist churches. At the time of a 2010 application to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission to repair the roof (a project estimated to cost in excess of $140,000) the former Friends structure was owned by the Deeper Life Church. The re-roofing was never undertaken, and though any number of age and wear induced factors could have led to this year’s roof collapse, one might wonder if a new top might have prevented the damage and altered the redevelopment plans as apartments are built within its 118 year-old walls.