Refusing to accept that people are uninterested in history, it might be fair to nickname me a bit of a “Peter Pan.” I am convinced the more people learn of their heritage, the richer their lives–you just have to find the bits that have meaning to you and connect to them. Whether it’s a place you pass every day or where you had one remarkable conversation, places have meaning. And the longer a building is around, the more layered it becomes with stories, significance and shared slivers of people’s lives.  See if you haven’t lost count of how many times you’ve passed this one…

Most people would have no reason to notice this little brick commercial building at 1828-1834 North Central; after all, it’s on a stretch of one of the perceived super-highways making that final dump of southbound drivers into the heart of downtown. But if you live in Herron-Morton Place, chances are good you’ve noticed this building.

This property was labeled as a “Chemical Laboratory” on the 1915 Sanborn map and the  rumor from a gentleman who has lived  in the area for a long time  is that it was once a movie theater. Most people with a recollection of the place know the southern portion of the building as a garage. The northern section has apartments above a storefront that hasn’t been actively used in years.

Since the first time I noticed “Peter Pan” at the top of the southern portion of the structure, I’ve been curious about it’s history, of which I’ve found very little (full disclosure: I haven’t spent much time researching it). What is interesting to note, is that there were also the “Peter Pan Apartments,” in the middle of the 1600 block of Central on the east side of the street. Though the footprint on the below Baist map (thank you IUPUI) doesn’t appear to exactly match, it resembles enough  of the northern half of this series of apartments labeled “Peter Pan Apts” to convince me that these longtime rundown apartments (also Sunday Prayer worthy) at 1635 North Central, are indeed what remains of the Peter Pan Apartments. As of February 2012, the sad conditions shown in this photo are being remedied as work is under way to make this inhabitable again. And within the last few months, another happy development (prayers answered), work has begun to stabilize a failing northern wall on the commercial building below.

Above and Below: As the Peter Pan commercial building looked almost 1 year ago…

and now, as of February 25, 2012–looks like the process of replacing windows is under way…in addition to the northern wall. Praying this one is restored back to her former beauty, and since I’m already wishing and praying–some neighborhood serving retail would also be a welcome addition.

9 responses to “Sunday Prayers: Peter Pan Lives on Central”

  1. Doug says:

    This is delightful, human-scale favorite of this Old Northsider. I’ve always heard it described as a former garage.

  2. Joan Hostetler says:

    I’ve only dabbled in its history as well, but can add that Harry S. Bastian (a contractor and realtor) built at least the 2-story section in 1915-1916. The Peter Pan movie theater operated at least from 1916-1919, but was called the Superba Theater in 1920. Grocery stores occupied the commercial space for many years. Since you like to connect the dots, David Brenneke of the dance academy ( bought the building as an investment in the late teens when Bastian moved to Miami, Florida to build houses/buildings for Carl Fisher (of Indy 500 fame).

  3. Dave Brewer says:

    According to Gene Gladson’s book, “Indianapolis Theaters from A to Z”, the Peter Pan opened on December 24, 1915.

    Dave Brewer

  4. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    You know, I think I had a copy of that somewhere…thanks for the resource reminder!

  5. Literate Indy says:

    I noticed this building around Christmas. There was a beautifully decorated little tree in the window of the upstairs apartment…

  6. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Darn! I missed that bit of holiday spirit! Thanks; I’ll be on the lookout next year!

  7. Nathan LaGrange says:

    Hey Tiffany! Great research…thanks for all you do to give voice to the history of our city…any idea who currently owns the Peter Pan?

  8. pam scott says:

    Gary Rice is owner and is renovating as I am typing. I think he’s on week 2.

  9. Diane R Gorsline says:

    I’ve wondered for years about the “Peter Pan” above that garage!

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