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Flanner House celebrates 125 years

The organization got its start in 1898.

Exterior of a street of Flanner House homes

These easily recognizable homes are on the near north side of Indy.

Photo by INDYtoday team

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Now

Happy anniversary, Flanner House.

For 125 years, the nonprofit has been a major social services institution for Black Hoosiers on the near north side, with initiatives like its self-help cooperative homeownership project — Flanner House Homes. To celebrate this milestone, we thought we’d share a little bit of its history and what the organization looks like today.

Then

Flanner House (or Flanner Guild, as it was called at its inception in 1898) was established as a settlement house for African Americans in Indy by Frank Flanner, who donated the original building on what is now Colton Street. Soon, the organization expanded to encircle educational and cultural improvements and was largely led by a group of female schoolteachers and middle-class African Americans.

Between 1950 and 1959, 180 Flanner House Homes were built near Crispus Attucks High School in an effort to address the severe housing shortage caused by segregation practices at the time. Today, more than 50% of the homes are still owned by the builders or their families.

Exterior of the Flanner House

Flanner House focuses education, employment, wellness, peace and safety, economic development, and food justice. | Photo by INDYtoday team

Photo by INDYtoday team

Now

Flanner House has been behind a number of innovative initiatives in the neighborhood today, including Ujamaa Community Bookstore and Cleo’s Bodega Grocery and Café.

Despite its positive impact on Hoosiers, homes in Flanner House Homes Historic District have been under threat of demolition several times in past years and the neighborhood was on Indiana Landmarks’ ”10 Most Endangered” list in 2013. In 2021, it put up 15 signs to mark the area as historic, which is still a little-known fact around town. The markings were put up in hopes that its historic status would deter future developers from demolishing the homes, so the neighborhood can continue to grow for years to come.

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