The architectural anchor of the Holy Cross neighborhood has been placed on the 10 Most Endangered list, the Indiana Landmarks annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy. The Church of the Holy Cross has been an anchor for the area since Irish immigrants established a parish there in the late 19th century.
Places that land on the 10 Most Endangered list often face a combination of problems rather than a single threat—abandonment, neglect, dilapidation, obsolete use, unreasonable above-market asking price, owners who simply lack money for repairs, remote location.
The namesake of the Holy Cross neighborhood was built in 1921, and stands as 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.
Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, said the organization uses its 10 Most Endangered list in several ways. “Sometimes it serves an educational role,” he said. “It functions as an advocacy tool. And it can assist in raising funds needed to save a place.
“Every listing comes with significant challenges, Davis continued. “In all cases, when an endangered place lands on our list, we commit to seeking solutions that lead to rescue and revitalization,” he adds.
Other members of the 10 Most Endangered list are Cannelton Historic District, Cannelton; Commandant’s Row at Indiana Veterans’ Home, West Lafayette; Crump Theatre, Columbus; Downtown Attica; Howe Mansion, Howe Military Academy; Mineral Springs Hotel, Paoli; Peru Circus Winter Quarters, Peru; Pulaski County Courthouse, Winamac; and Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, Richmond.
Demolition has claimed only 16 of the 139 Most Endangered sites listed since 1991, while 85 places are completely restored or no longer endangered.
To find out more about each of the 10 Most Endangered, visit www.indianalandmarks.org or contact Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 or 800-450-4534.