Shields Memorial Gymnasium
400-418 West 5th Street, Seymour
The future remains uncertain for a temple of Indiana basketball in Seymour, first listed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered List last year. One of Indiana’s largest high school gymnasiums when it was built by Works Progress Administration workers in 1941, the James M. Shields Memorial Gymnasium provided the backdrop for decades of local basketball memories, hosting 21 sectional titles from 1942-1970. A local family purchased the long-vacant property in 1996 and later had to demolish the seriously dilapidated 1910 high school nearby, leaving the gym as the last tangible school tie to the site for many Seymour alumni.
Today the gym remains empty. Vandals continue to break windows and cover walls with graffiti, despite the current owner’s attempts to secure the property. Though roof leaks have allowed water to infiltrate the building, an architectural assessment showed the steel and concrete gym to be structurally sound.
Community support for finding a new use for the Shields Memorial Gymnasium remains strong. The landmark gym occupies a city block on 5th Street in Seymour’s National Register-listed Walnut Street Historic District, surrounded by greenspace that opens up possibilities for incorporating the historic building into a new residential development.
Indiana Landmarks has engaged the owner, consultants, and the City of Seymour in discussions about the building’s future and possible rehabilitation, but a game plan for redevelopment has yet to be put into play.
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.