Church of the Holy Cross
1401 East Ohio Street, Indianapolis
Just east of downtown Indianapolis, the historic Holy Cross neighborhood is in danger of losing its namesake. The Church of the Holy Cross has been an anchor for the area since Irish immigrants established a parish there in the late nineteenth century. Built in 1921, the current church is one of the city’s finest examples of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture; its 136-foot-tall bell tower serves as an iconic neighborhood landmark. Inside, light filters through stained glass windows depicting Christ’s life, and an Italian marble and mosaic-tile altar towers 19-feet high behind the chancel.
Like many religious institutions, the church saw its congregation shrink over the past several years, and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis merged Holy Cross with another parish in 2014. When part of the building’s arched portico collapsed in 2015, it was the final straw for a parish already struggling to maintain the historic building, and Holy Cross closed its doors for good.
In the meantime, the surrounding neighborhood is enjoying a renaissance, and most residents agree they want Holy Cross Church to be part of the revitalization. In other parts of the city, churches have been successfully transformed into performing arts venues, offices, restaurants, even apartments and condos. Though the Archdiocese has articulated no specific plan for the building’s future, demolition is always a concern. The adjacent gym and school are still open, but the church’s fate remains uncertain.
Saving threatened buildings takes teamwork. You can be a part of that team. Reach out to local leaders. Let them know these buildings are important to you. And support state and local preservation groups.