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A $20 million family center in Indianapolis, IN

Rendering of the center's exterior

The city commission approved the plans just yesterday. | Photo via Indy Parks

Spalding, Ronnetta S.

Table of Contents

The Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood is getting a $20 million upgrade. Frederick Douglass Park just received the okay to move forward with its proposed family center, which will meet the growing need for services + resources in the near north side community.

Truly a team effort, the park listened to community feedback in four public meetings last year to arrive at its final design. Increased wraparound services, summer youth programs + senior fitness classes could result from these efforts, and funding for the center comes from the Circle City Forward initiative. Indy Parks intends to break ground on the project in September with a completion date sometime in October 2023.

The blueprint

The 45,000 sqft facility will replace the existing structure at 1616 E. 25th St. and include:

  • A community hall
  • A dance + exercise studio
  • Arts + crafts areas
  • A demonstration kitchen
  • Two full-sized basketball courts
  • An elevated track
  • A podcast + computer room
  • A food pantry
  • Locker rooms
Rendering of the center's interior

The current family center will not be demolished until the new one is done. | Photo via Indy Parks

The numbers

  • The park is 101 years old
  • The new family center will be 4x the size
  • The park spans 43 acres
  • $45 million in upgrades for Indy Parks as a whole

The history

Named after nineteenth century abolitionist + author Frederick Douglass, the park was established in 1921 when Martindale was a segregated community for African Americans. After WWII and through the 60s, the park became a popular hub for community meetings, basketball games + family gatherings due to a growth in lower-middle and middle-class African American families in the area.

To meet the recreational demands of the community, a nine-hole golf course (the only golf course in the nation named after an African American during that time) was added to the park, as well as a new swimming pool, and other renovations. Although the 70s brought about an economic decline in the area, the recent infusion of middle-income families has brought about a new need for an up-to-date recreational area.

Fun fact: Many famous athletes have frequented the park, including heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and golfers Ted Rhodes, Charlie Sifford + Howard Wheeler.

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