Saturday, December 8, 2012


At various times during the year, I stand at the corner of Indiana Avenue 
and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to catch a bus.
Located on the northwest corner of downtown Indianapolis,
these buildings are two of the few remaining traces of what had once
been a vibrant African-American community.

Madame C.J. Walker was the country's first African-American millionaire.
Her skills as an entrepreneur made a success of her hair care productswhich are 
still sold today. She incorporated her business in 1911 in Indianapolis 
as Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, producing 
a line of beauty and hair products for black women.
A life-long philanthropist, Madame Walker supported the NAACP
as well as the historically black colleges. She began the development of
the Walker Theatre and Building before her death in 1919. The project was
completed by her daughter and became a center of pride for the 
African-American community from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Along with the decline of the surrounding neighborhood, 
the building faded from neglect, becoming nearly derelict 
until its restoration in the late 1980s.

I've ended up by taking photos of the sign atop the building 
in various seasons and weather. The photo above 
was taken a couple days ago, while the top picture
was taken in April, eight months ago to the day.

I haven't been able to locate any details about this beautiful 
little building. When I moved to Indy in 1978, I knew 
the building as Arlene's Records. It's brick exterior was painted white,
surrounding structures were unsalvageable and were demolished.
This building has been restored in recent years and
enlarged to accommodate apartments and office space.
It's always been just about my favorite structure.

1 comment:

dive said...

Love that sign, Speedway. And I especially love the contrast between it and the Art Deco frieze (and the Moon, too … what a great shot).
We need more people like Mme. Walker in today's world.

I can see why you like the old Arlene's Records building. Sweet.