Church of the Holy Cross
1401 East Ohio Street, Indianapolis
Just east of downtown Indianapolis, the historic Holy Cross neighborhood remains 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.
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.
Since Holy Cross debuted on the 10 Most Endangered list last year, the Archdiocese removed the building’s 120-year-old stained-glass windows, leaving the church’s towering Italian marble and mosaic-tile altar in darkness.
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. The Archdiocese rejected a proposal to adapt the church for housing and has not invested in any kind of maintenance, essentially dooming the building to demolition by neglect.
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.