525 North Walnut Street, Muncie
Taken by Storm
For proof of Indiana’s basketball madness, there’s the movie “Hoosiers,” and the list of the largest high school gyms in the United States. Indiana claims 13 of the top 15 spots, with New Castle Fieldhouse the largest at 9,350 seats. Muncie Fieldhouse ranks as the fifth largest, sixth if you include Anderson’s closed Wigwam, and seems destined to join the Wigwam in landmark limbo.
A storm slammed the fieldhouse in November 2017, sending the brick parapet crashing through the roof and flooding the basketball floor with water from the storm and the sprinkler system. The embattled school system, controlled by an emergency manager, claims it cannot repair the arena, despite a significant insurance settlement for the storm damage.
While known primarily for Hoosier Hysteria, the 1928 arena has hosted all sorts community events—a 1939 speech by Eleanor Roosevelt, a 1942 Abbott and Costello war bond rally, annual Christmas Sings and Independence Day celebrations, and lots more. The fieldhouse needs a long-term solution for ownership and maintenance to remain a basketball mecca and community center.
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.