This just in: Vonnegut Library needs cash to buy former Indiana Avenue building

The historic building at Indiana Avenue and MLK Street has hosted several restaurants over the past decade.

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library wants to buy – to be its new, expanded home – the historic Indiana Avenue which has been the site of at least three failed restaurants in the past decade.

But there’s a catch: The organization has just 90 days to raise $1.5 million, after signing a purchase agreement for the building at 543 Indiana Ave., across Martin Luther King Jr. Street from the iconic Madame Walker Legacy Center.

Vonnegut Library Executive Director Julia Whitehead posted the news March 6. “These funds will allow us to purchase the building and begin renovations needed to open to the   public. We’ll need additional funds beyond that to install our exhibitions and offer our programs for students, teachers, veterans, and general readers. We’ve touched the lives of several hundred thousand people over these years as a startup organization, but now we are ready for the next phase.”

The Vonnegut Library has been closed since late last year, although it has operated a small gift shop in Circle Centre.

Whitehead said that once the new building is purchased and renovated, plans for the expanded “Museum & Library” include a new Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition, a new Freedom of Expression exhibition, a Vonnegut & Jazz exhibition, voter registration kiosks, and exhibitions of the organization’s large collection of Vonnegut artifacts and memorabilia, currently being held in safekeeping by the Indiana State Museum and the Indiana Historical Society.

“Plus, we also are talking with restaurant owner Ed Battista of Bluebeard about setting up a café on the first floor of the building,” Whitehead said. The popular Fletcher Place restaurant is actually named after a Vonnegut novel.

“If the stars align, this will make for a powerful visitor experience and hangout for residents and those who work Downtown,” Whitehead continued. “There’s no better way to celebrate this important anniversary year than by giving the community an environment in which to share those things that mattered to Vonnegut: community, humor, music, art, literature, theater, and common decency.”

Whitehead said multiple naming opportunities are available for rooms, exhibitions and more, starting with $50,000 gifts and higher. She said a donor in Illinois has already made a $100,000 gift.

“If $50K+ is a little more than you can handle,” she added, “please know any donation will make a difference. We look forward to making this journey along with all of Vonnegut’s biggest fans.”

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