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Abandoned 151-year-old Danish church to become cafe, community center

Lille Bonne Community Cafe is set to open in Fletcher Place this summer.
Historic Danish Church
Posted at 10:37 PM, Dec 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-21 23:15:54-05

INDIANAPOLIS — One of the most historic buildings in Indianapolis is being resurrected back to its original glory.

The former Trinity Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Fletcher Place neighborhood, which was built in 1872, will soon reopen as the secular Lille Bonne Community Cafe.

"It's somewhere we can go that's not work and not home," said Abby Reckard, who bought the church and envisioned Lille Bonne inside the space. "It's some place that is comfortable and welcoming where we know people and feel like we have a community."

Reckard plans to serve coffee at the cafe while also hosting events such as yoga, live music and art classes.

The 151-year-old building is on the corner of McCarty and Noble Streets, walking distance from Eli Lilly and Company's corporate headquarters. It anchors the Holy Rosary-Danish Church Historic District, which is partially named for the church and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Reckard received final approval for the Lille Bonne plans this week. She lives a block away from the Danish church and was inspired to transform it after walking past it every day.

"I thought, 'I wonder who's going to buy that, I wonder what they're going to do with it,' not really considering that it might be me," Reckard said.

She has spent the past week removing damaged fabric from the church's pews and using a crowbar to expose the church's original hardwood floors.

Several Fletcher Place neighbors have toured through the work-in-progress while waiting for the cafe to open.

"It's a place for people to hang around in the neighborhood," said Maryann Petrosino, who lives across Noble Street from the Danish church. "We can coalesce a little bit and get to know each other a little bit more than just passing by."

Reckard hopes to open Lille Bonne this summer.

"The significance of this building for the neighborhood and the fact that it's a physical space that's just beautiful of it's own regardless of what you put in here, that draws people in," Reckard said.