Indiana State Road 67 originally passed through Downtown Indianapolis, making its northeasterly journey towards Muncie along Massachusetts Avenue. This street flows at a 45 degree angle to the city grid, and extends through the city’s Northeastside beyond the city limits.
In Downtown, however, Mass Ave (as we call it) is a hip, happening destination, lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. You’ll also find some terrific architecture along this street.
First up is the Murat Shrine Center. That’s what we locals all still call it, anyway, even after naming rights to this building were sold several years ago to a bank that renamed it Old National Centre. Among other things, it’s an entertainment venue. I’ve seen a couple of concerts here, and the company I currently work for had an all-company gathering here. The building’s tower is visible as you drive northeast on Mass Ave.
This very large building is challenging to fit into my camera’s viewfinder, even with a wide-angle lens.
Completed in 1909, the building was designed with Egyptian and Middle Eastern exterior decorations. The Shriners always had a large membership in Indianapolis, and for a time in the 1980s was the largest membership of all Shrine temples worldwide.
Across a very wide three-street intersection from the Murat is the Athanaeum, also known as Das Deutsche Haus. This was the German heritage club for the large influx of German immigrants to Indianapolis in the late 19th century. The building opened in 1898. Even though it’s on a corner with Mass Ave, it’s actually on Michigan Street.
Today this building houses a branch of the YMCA and a German restaurant called The Rathskeller, as well as a few other things.
As big as both of those buildings are, the sprawling former Coca-Cola bottling plant a few blocks to the northeast takes up far more land. It’s an art deco stunner. Completed in 1931, for a time it was the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world. Coca-Cola moved operations to a new plant in Speedway in 1969; in 1971, the Indianapolis Public Schools adapted the building to be its Service Center, which housed school buses. In 2017, it became The Bottleworks, which includes a hotel and other amenities.
The photo above shows the facade of the large building toward the upper right in this aerial image. The three buildings to the left of it are part of the complex too.
This look up Mass Ave shows some of the detailing in this building.
This is the Garage building, just east of the hotel.
This is the hotel building itself, as it stretches north from Mass Ave. Looking at this building from Mass Ave straight on, you’d never guess how far back it goes.
This is what the other side of the building looks like, as it borders Bellefontaine Street.
The construction of I-65 and I-70 in Downtown Indianapolis caused Mass Ave to be severed. To return to Mass Ave today, you follow Bellefontaine Street to 10th Street, and then turn right and go under the Interstates. About a half mile of Mass Ave is one way southbound after you do that, so you have to follow 10th Street to Brookside Avenue, and then follow Brookside back to Mass Ave. We’ll look at that in the next article.