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Athenaeum designated as National Historic Landmark

Posted at 1:35 PM, Nov 02, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana just welcomed another historic landmark to its list of many – the Athenaeum.

The historic German-American building located in downtown Indianapolis, was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Register and National Historic Landmarks Program Wednesday.

The Athenaeum, in the Lockerbie Square historic district and Massachusetts Avenue Commercial District, is now one of the more than 40 Indiana landmarks given the honor and one of approximately 2,500 landmarks nationally.

“The designation of the Athenaeum as a National Historic Landmark has long since been a goal of the Athenaeum Foundation,” said Athenaeum Foundation President Cassie Stockamp. “This honor is a testament to all of the hard work and dedication we have poured into maintaining the history and nostalgia of our beloved building.”

The building was constructed in 1894 by Clemens Vonnegut, great-grandfather of author Kurt Vonnegut, and was formally known as the Das Deutsche. Today it serves as a community center for many cultural, business and nonprofit groups including the YMCA and Young Actors Theatre. It also is home to the Rathskeller restaurant that serves up German-inspired foods.

In addition, the venue has been used for weddings, concerts and stage plays.

“The Athenaeum is one of the most recognizable and historically significant buildings in Indianapolis,” Stockamp said. “The architecture, the history – there is so much about this building that is deserving of this recognition, and we are proud that the day where we can call this building a National Historic Landmark is finally here.”

Landmarks seeking this designation must meet at least one of six criterions:

· Must be located in a historic district

· Recognized as a nationally significant archeological property

· Be the key work of a nationally significant architect

· Represent a belief, or goal that is unique to the United States

· Must be associated with major events, or major patterns in American history, and individuals who have made a significant or exceptional contribution to American history

· Must be associated with individuals who have made a significant or exceptional contribution to American history

The Athenaeum has been listed three times in the National Registry of Historic Places for architecture and historical significance and began the process to become an officially designated National Historic Landmark in 2008.

Earlier this year, The Athenaeum Foundation kicked off their $1.3 million capital campaign, A Makeover on Mass Ave, set to renovate the west entrance, lobby and theater. The foundation hopes the newly updated areas will appeal to a “younger, tech-savvy” demographic.

The three areas aforementioned are also set to feature wifi, enhanced ADA access, coffee and snack bar and areas for conversation and entertainment.

For more information on the Athenaeum, visit the athenaeumfoundation.org.