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UPDATE 6/10/24: BTNA passed the following resolution: "BTNA supports the preservation and potential adaptive reuse of School 86. BTNA encourages Butler University to include School 86 in their current strategic plan and to engage with the BTNA community, and state and local historic preservation groups and developers to explore the best ways to reuse the school building and preserve its contributions to the character of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood."

 

UPDATE 5/10/24: School 86 will be discussed at the May 13 BTNA meeting. Meeting starts at 6:30 pm at the MLK Center, 40 W. 40th St. in Indianapolis. A PDF flyer advertising the meeting is available for download here. Feel free to print a copy off and post it up around Butler-Tarkington, and in the Midtown area. 

THE ISSUE

IPS School 86 is located at the corner of 49th Street and Boulevard Place in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood of Indianapolis. The school was constructed in two phases, first in 1939-40, and then an expansion in 1950. The school was constructed by the Jungclaus-Campbell Co., the longest operating contractor in the city, and operated until the late 1990s, when the property was purchased by Butler University. Since 1999 the International School of Indiana occupied the building, but the school left in 2022, and the building has remained vacant since that time. The school building is still owned by Butler University, and its future is uncertain.

 

For those who follow my blog and my social media, you know I have been advocating for the preservation of School 86, and for the development of some kind of adaptive reuse for the structure. This blog post provides more detail about the need for the preservation of the school while this post provides a historical look at the property, and the school as a whole. 

School 86 was also included in the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory conducted by Indiana Landmarks from 1975 to 2012. The county-by-county survey. More information on this project can be found here. The Butler-Tarkington area was included in this survey, and structures assigned ratings for its historical contribution to the area. The highest-level rating is "O" for outstanding, followed by "N" for notable.  Hinkle Fieldhouse has an "O" ranking. School 86 was given a "N" ranking, which means while it did not reach the level of an "O" property, it is still "above average in importance." School 86 appears twice in the survey, with two construction dates (it was built in two sections) although both entries have a "N" rating. Other structures in the neighborhood survey area that have an "N" rating include Holcomb Observatory on Butler's campus, as shown in the excerpt from the survey below. 

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Older buildings like School 86 can be difficult to renovate and redevelop for a new use. Of course, this also takes money. However, across the city former IPS schools can be found being used for other purposes. Some have been converted to private or charter schools, while others are used for non-profits, churches, or have been converted into apartments. Many of these former schools are from the same era as School 86, while others are older. The slideshow below shows a selection of re-purposed schools around Indianapolis, as examples that even if School 86 is "old," renovation and reuse is still very much possible if an effort is made to preserve this community landmark. 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

At this stage, the best thing to do is to spread the word about the school and the community’s desire to see it preserved. This means letting elected leaders, at the state and local level, know that there is support for the preservation of School 86 for some adaptive reuse which would benefit the community, while maintaining some aspect of the historical nature of the structure. E-mail contact information for the members of the Indianapolis City-County Council can be found at this link. School 86 is located in District 7, which is represented by Councilor John Barth.

At the state level, the school is located in Indiana House District 86, which is represented by Ed Delaney, and Senate District 33, which is represented by Greg Taylor. Each legislator has a 'Contact' form that can be filled out. Rep. Delaney's contact form is at the bottom of the page linked below. 

You can also let the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association know that you support the preservation of School 86. You can e-mail the BTNA president (Disclaimer: I was a former BTNA president) at btnapresident@gmail.com or attend the monthly BTNA meetings and speak out during the public section at the end of the meetings. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at the MLK Community Center. 

Finally, below is a Dropbox link for some promotional materials to help spread the word about School 86. These images draw their inspiration from the vintage postcards of the early 1900s. There are several sizes available, so please feel free to download and spread the word. There is also a PDF flyer advertising the May 13 BTNA meeting where School 86 will be discussed. 

School 86 Outreach Graphics

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