Walking Fountain Square

What was I missing? I have been to Fountain Square on a number of occasions—walking the cultural trail, visiting the New Day Meadery, going to a Meetup, attending a First Friday art event.

Fountain Square, a small neighborhood in southeastern Indianapolis, is always bustling with activity on the weekends. It seems to be the in place to be.The commercial side to Fountain Square appears to consist of a few blocks surrounded by mostly run-down housing.

A walking tour of Fountain Square appeared on this year’s agenda of Indiana Landmark activities. After attending one of the North Meridian neighborhood walks last year, I had reasonable expectations. I thought I might see sights that I hadn’t seen before.

I did a bit but it was a hurried tour. I could barely keep up with the tour guide who kept insisting we couldn’t stop. I looked behind me at the trail of older people we were leaving behind. In the end, the tour ended twenty minutes before it was scheduled to do so.

We started at the Wheeler Arts Center, the site of a former carburetor manufacturer (late 1800s through around 1940s) and current site of art studios and apartments for artists.

We wound our way through the Murphy building, which contains a collection of art studios. I had previously wandered through them during a First Friday open art gallery event. We quickly whisked by the window where gas payments were made in person to the gas company many decades ago. The remains of a movie theatre arch were pointed out.

Led into the community Catholic church, we were left in the care of a church volunteer who answered questions. Rather than given a brief lecture about the building, we were handed thick pamphlets about the church.

The most informative lecture was at the theatre building, which now houses a boutique hotel, a grill and bar, bowling alleys—including famous duckpin bowling alleys, and a rooftop view of the square and the city. The current owner and renovator of the building described the history and various incarnations—and I got to see duckpin bowling alleys that had been reconstructed from salvaged duckpin bowling alleys throughout the state.

Now the billboard atop of the theatre building, which houses the duckpin bowling alleys, makes more sense: Small balls…that’s how we roll.


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