On Feb. 17, Indiana Landmarks will offer another “before” tour of the historic Coca-Cola bottling plant that Hendricks Commercial Properties will soon convert to Bottleworks—apartments, restaurants, retail shops, movie theaters, and a boutique hotel—just prior to the start of construction. The nonprofit organization’s first “before” tour of the site, held last summer, sold out weeks before the event.
James Yuncker built the white terra cotta building at 850 Massachusetts Avenue in 1931, in the depths of the Great Depression. With a style that was lavish by factory standards, especially at the time, the building stands as a testimony to Yuncker’s faith in the growth trajectory of his core product, Coca-Cola. He commissioned the design from Rubush and Hunter, a firm known for prominent structures that are now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Columbia Club, Guaranty Building, Circle Theater, and Circle Tower—all on Monument Circle. Jungclaus Construction Company, whose headquarters remains just down the street on Mass Ave, built the plant.
As business boomed, the plant expanded with additions in 1941 and 1951, as well as additional garages. By 1950, the facility was considered the world’s largest bottling plant, with 260 employees and a fleet of 110 delivery trucks. After Yuncker died in 1964, Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman bought the Coca-Cola franchise and moved bottling operations to Speedway. He stored his collection of vintage automobiles in the Massachusetts Avenue building until he sold it to Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) in 1968.
IPS turned the bottling works into a central kitchen for school lunches, and used other areas for storage, a woodworking shop, and as classrooms for adult and experimental education. The garages remained, housing school buses instead of soft drink delivery trucks.
On the tour guests will see how architects Rubush and Hunter exceeded the design standards of an average Depression-era factory. The Art Deco exterior is clad in gleaming terra cotta—a material that conveyed the spic ‘n span facility it enclosed. Geometric and floral motifs decorate the exterior, and a bas relief panel over the main entrance on Massachusetts Avenue depicts a refreshing fountain shooting beautiful arcing sprays.
Ornate bronze doors open into the high Art Deco lobby, where terrazzo floors and a circular marble staircase with stainless steel and brass railing leads to the executive offices. Just off the lobby, another public space wows with walls of sea green, ochre, and creme matte glazed tiles trimmed with maroon ziggurat-pattern tile.
Guests will see this and more on the self-guided tour, with docents stationed along the way to offer information and answer questions. Hendricks Commercial Properties staff will be on hand to reveal its plans for Bottleworks, with a virtual reality look at the development and information on spaces available for rent. Hendricks will set up an indoor food court for the tour, featuring some of the vendors that have already leased space in the Food Hall that will be part of the reuse.
“The plant is not heated, although there will be industrial heaters scattered throughout the building. Dress warmly!” urges Gwendolen Nystrom, Indiana Landmarks’ Director of Heritage Experiences.
Tickets must be purchased in advance. The tour is not accessible; the site has no working elevators and is not navigable for guests with walker, canes, stroller or wheelchairs.
Landmark Look: Coca-Cola “Before” 2018
WHAT: A tour of the historic Art Deco Coca-Cola bottling plant before its conversion to Bottleworks. An indoor food court and entertainment will be available in a heated indoor area.
WHEN: Feb. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Former Coca-Cola bottling plant, 850 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis
WHO: Sponsored by Indiana Landmarks and Hendricks Commercial Properties
COST: Tickets must be purchased in advance: $15 per person ($12 for Indiana Landmarks members). Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 317-639-4534
INFO: 317-639-4534 or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
Tina Connor, Indiana Landmarks Executive Vice President, 317-639-4534, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jen Thomas, email@example.com, 317-441-2487
Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to our heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
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