Indiana Landmarks, neighbors work to save historic Church of the Holy Cross

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INDIANAPOLIS – For a second year, a church on the Indy’s near east side is listed on Indiana Landmarks’ most endangered list. The Church of the Holy Cross is empty and it’s falling apart.

Neighbors want to develop the space, but it’s going to cost millions of dollars.

“It’s very sad,” said Kelly Wensing, the President of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association. It’s upsetting for her to witness the church crumble away, “It’s a really nice piece of property with a beautiful building on it. This is our namesake.”

According to Indiana Landmarks, The Church of the Holy Cross has been an anchor for the neighborhood since Irish immigrants established the parish. It was built in 1921 and its bell tower serves as an iconic landmark.

The Church of the Holy Cross has sat empty for years. The stained-glass windows and pews are removed. In March of 2015, the limestone over the entryway collapsed and fell onto the sidewalk. The limestone attached to the face of the structure is in danger of falling off.

“So, we have to have a fence to protect people,” said Wensing.

While Wensing and her neighbors have ideas to transform the building into housing, a community center or even a theater. It’s not their property to decide.

“It’s an Archdiocese property – they own this block,” she added.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said it would like to find a buyer for the building:

“There has been limited interest so far. The building is not in good shape and needs significant structural repairs. It’s been estimated it would take as much as $2 million to bring the building back into a state of good repair.”

“Somebody is going to have to make a significant investment in the property just to get it stabilized,” said Mark Dollase, the Vice President of Preservation Services for Indiana Landmarks.

Placing on the church on the endangered list for a second year could help. Dollase and his team at Indiana Landmarks is working with neighbors to develop a plan.

“Being creative and thinking outside of the box for what new uses could be brought to the building is something we’re here to help the community come up with,” he added.

It’s going to take a team effort. Residents are looking ahead to what’s next for the Church of the Holy Cross, so the neighborhood it sits in, can continue to thrive.

“In these times where people are very conservative with the pandemic, I don’t know if there’s going to be anyone out there to jump on this particular property,” said Wensing.

Indiana Landmarks is inviting anyone with ideas for the Church of the Holy Cross to reach out to them.

Click here to learn more about the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association.

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