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A Brief History of the Harrison Center

  • 1903 — The First Presbyterian Congregation, established in 1823, builds its fourth home. This time it is at the corner of Delaware and 16th Streets. President Benjamin Harrison, who is an elder and Sunday school teacher in the church, lives in the neighborhood.
  • 1905 — Harrison’s widow dedicates a Tiffany-designed stained-glass window to him at the church called “Angel of the Resurrection.” It is later found intact in the aging building, restored and moved the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where it remains on display.
  • 1970 — Presbyterian Metropolitan Center opens with the combined effort of several area Presbyterian churches to provide social services to the neighborhood, now in a serious state of decline.
  • 1999 — Local philanthropist Jeremy Efroymson first visits the building. Years of neglected maintenance due to a lack of funds have taken a toll on the facility.
  • 2000 — Efroymson buys the building, stabilizes it, and opens the Harrison Center for the Arts as a for-profit, secular art center. He recruits VSA Arts, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, The Nature Conservancy, Herron School of Art, and a handful of individual artists as tenants.
  • 2001 — The first outdoor concert takes place during the Talbot Street Fair. This will become the Independent Music and Art Festival (IMAF). Attendance tops 100, including dogs.
  • 2001 — Redeemer purchases the building and inherits four artist tenants and three nonprofit tenants. The Church hires Joanna Taft in November without a title or job description for $10,000 and a bonus of 30 percent of event rentals.
  • 2002 — In January, Taft gets the title of director of the Harrison Center. Redeemer begins operating as the Harrison Center.
  • 2002 — In February, Harrison Gallery hosts its first show: ‘Love in the Time of Football’ by Kyle Ragsdale, the gallery’s recently hired curator. The new gallery focuses on working with emerging artists has had 110 visitors at the opening.
  • 2002 — In May, Redeemer hires Jason Dorsey, a painter, as pastor.
  • 2003 — In July, HCA becomes separate 501(c)(3). It separates its budget from Redeemer in November.
  • 2003 — In September, Pam Allee joins the staff as arts coordinator/administrative assistant.
  • 2003 — 15 studios filled by artists, 6,160 attendees visit during the year.
  • 2003 — 2004 – HCA receives its first Arts Council Grant in May. That month, Indianapolis Monthly also calls it a poster child of the city’s Cultural Development initiative.
  • 2004 — HCA receives first Gates Grant to create Herron High School to grow a new generation of art patrons.
  • 2005 — In April, HCA receives NUVO Cultural Vision Award.
  • 2005 — In May, HCA receives first Lilly Endowment Grant.
  • 2006 — Christel DeHaan decides to only fund “excellence.” HCA receives $35,000.
  • 2006 — Herron High School opens in the fall in the Harrison Center basement with 100 ninth graders.
  • 2007 — In the fall, Herron High School moves into permanent building on 16th Street.
  • 2007 — With 21 studios filled by artists, 30,000 people attend HCA events.
  • 2008 — Harrison Center crafts Cultural Entrepreneur Initiative to build culture in Indianapolis.
  • 2010 — Over 44,000 people visit the Harrison Center.  31 artists now create work in HCA studios.
  • 2011 — City Gallery opens its doors in August to connect people to community, culture and place to strengthen Indy’s core neighborhoods.
  • 2012 — Artists from Delhi, India arrive to participate in the Harrison Center’s first Global Art Exchange.
  • 2013 — City Gallery receives $100,000 ArtPlace grant to support creative placemaking efforts.
  • 2013 — Place-based songwriting residency established. First participant, Paul Smallman, writes and records 15-track CD inspired by Indy’s King Park Area.
  • 2013 — Harrison Center claims 16th & Delaware St. billboard and repurposes as a frame for place-based art that celebrates urban Indy neighborhoods.
  • 2014 — Video artist Asa Gauen conceives of and launches Studio Visits series featuring Harrison Center studio artists.
  • 2014 — City Gallery launches Porch Party Indy to encourage community among neighbors in urban Indy.
  • 2014 — City Gallery launches City Suppers to promote neighborliness in urban Indy.
  • 2015 — Indianapolis 500 partners with Porch Party Indy, expanding program to include entire state.
  • 2015 — Artist-in-Residence Stefan Eicher creates the first HCA Holiday Window Tour.
  • 2015-16 — Harrison Gallery undergoes major renovation with funding from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation.
  • 2016 — Nikki Owens joins the Harrison Center staff as events coordinator and administrative support.
  • 2016 — First Hip Hoperetta Musical History Tours are written and produced to teach the history of the buildings of the Herron High School campus and Harrison Center for the Arts.
  • 2016 — Gallery No. 2 undergoes renovation and is renamed Speck Gallery in memory of local artist Stephen Peck, through a gift from the Speck Fund.
  • 2017 — Planning begins for the first Pre-Enactment Theater event, PreEnactIndy, to take place in Monon16 area on October 7, 2017. Through a partnership with local theater groups, Monon16 will be reimagined as it ought to be—equitable, vibrant and just. Funded by an NEA Our Town grant.