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Community members call to save historic Abraham Lincoln School #18

Abraham Lincoln School
Posted at 11:40 PM, Dec 29, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Craftsman homes, front porches, gabled roofs and a friendly, inviting feel.

“It’s awesome having so much history, but being close to downtown," Gina Christofaro is describing Bates-Hendricks — a neighborhood just south of I-70 and next door to Fountain Square.

The Neighborhood Association Vice President lives just steps away from multiple historical landmarks.

“The Sanders-Childers House is right across the street. Leery Manufacturing being right there. They’re all important pieces of, not only this neighborhood’s character, but also Indianapolis in general," she said.

There’s a lot of history at 1001 E Palmer Street.

The location was a camp for the Delaware Indians until 1820. At the turn of the century, the Abraham Lincoln School was built.

“Even when we were K.I.D.S. Inc. in this building and Horizon Christian Fellowship, we often referred to it as ‘Old School 18.’”

Rich Day is the Executive Director of K.I.D.S. Inc. — a faith-based organization and previous owner of the building.

“As you go up each level, you’d have the old school rooms, you’d have the church Sunday school classes and the most astonishing part was story three. There was a boxing gym up there," Day said.

The building is near and dear to David Steele's heart.

“My father went there; my aunt taught there," Steele said.

The Abraham Lincoln School is where he attended kindergarten in 1959, learned to play his first instrument and made countless memories.

He still remembers the hardwood floors, slate blackboards and oak ledges.

“We’re saying: don’t tear it down."

Steele is the creator of a petition to to save and preserve old Public School #18.

The petition currently has over 500 signatures.

“We’re not trying to suggest what should be done with the building. What we’re suggesting is because of its historical significance and it’s a huge anchor in that neighborhood, that it be saved," he said.

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership purchased the building in February 2021 and is the current owner.

An INHP spokesperson sent the following emailed statement to WRTV:

“[the location] will provide future residents with low and moderate incomes a quick connection to a Red Line station, a short walk to the heart of Fountain Square or Bates-Hendricks, and easy access to the Pleasant Run greenway and trail.”

INHP says a developer is going through the process of determining how to deliver affordable housing optimally.

There is no word at this time of how exactly that will happen or when it will take place.

“We want a public dialogue between Bates-Hendricks and invested parties, that we would be at the table and we would be available as subject matter experts on the history to have our voice heard," Steele said.