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Officials hope monument, amphitheater will improve park

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INDIANAPOLIS — A limestone monument to an Indianapolis mayor will be restored and become the centerpiece of an amphitheater that could bring new life to a city park.

A $9.2 million Lilly Endowment grant will help pay for the restoration of the Thomas Taggart Memorial at Riverside Park, The Indianapolis Business Journal reported .

Taggart served as the city’s mayor from 1895 to 1901. He was a supporter of parks and established the 862-acre Riverside Park. He was also a U.S. senator and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The memorial was created in 1931.

The monument will be incorporated into a planned amphitheater, which will become the home stage for the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company and a venue for concerts and other events.

The Indianapolis Parks Foundation, the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company, Indy Parks and Recreation, and Indiana Landmarks are working together on the project.

“Taggart is sort of the centerpiece of the space,” said Jenny Cash, vice president of development at the Indianapolis Parks Foundation. “It’s a start, and our expectation is that it will be a foundation for more.”

The amphitheater is part of a 20-year plan for the park. Supporters hope it will lead to additional improvements, restore the historic landmark and increase the Shakespeare company’s profile.

“It’s a real game-changer for all of us,” said Diane Timmerman, the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company’s producing artistic director. “We are incredibly excited.”

The company has held free summer performances over the past decade at a temporary site in White River State Park. The temporary accommodations limited performances and caused scheduling conflicts, Timmerman said.

The amphitheater is scheduled to open by June 2020.

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