History and Housing

The old Central-turned-YMCA gym could see new life

Another piece of Evansville’s rich architectural history is being eyed for preservation and a new purpose.

Indiana Landmarks is shepherding efforts to turn the old Downtown YMCA’s main gymnasium at Sixth and Court streets into affordable housing. Architect Frank J. Schlotter designed the gym in 1927 for Central High School and lined its Gothic Revival exterior with red brick and Indiana limestone. The gymnasium is all that remains of Central’s original footprint Downtown.

Plans to build affordable housing units in the old gym are advancing, slowly. Indiana Landmarks and the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana say the former will retain the property title for two years and work with a developer to secure tax credits and other funding sources. Indiana Landmarks’ involvement shields the gym’s cultural significance from damaging change.

AP Development of Indianapolis, who last year opened 62 affordable housing units in a 1913 section of the same property, has shown interest in building additional units in the main gymnasium and has the first right of refusal on being the developer.

If a project does not proceed in the next two years, the property would revert to YMCA ownership. “The goal is to come up with enough financial incentives for it to move forward,” Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis says.

Across decades, the gym hosted 6,800 spectators for high school and college basketball games before Central High School moved to First Avenue in 1973. The gymnasium was integrated into the Downtown YMCA in 1979 and used by the agency until the Ascension St. Vincent YMCA opened across Court Street in 2019.



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