History

The Athenæum/Das Deutsche Haus was built for the Indianapolis Socialer Turnverein (1893-1898) as a “house of culture” for the mind and body. Many liberal minded Germans, who immigrated to the United States after the failed revolution of 1848, believed in the philosophy of Friedrich Jahn – “a sound mind in a sound body.”

 

1851 1st Turnverein formed by Clemens Vonnegut et. al.

1892 Socialer Turnverein Aktiengesellschaft (Stock Association) formed to raise funds and build Das Deutsche Haus (“DDH”)

1893-94 DDH East Wing built

1897-98 DDH West Wing built in “seiner Vollendung” (in its completion)

1900 Walter Reed’s Yellow Fever speech in Concert-ball Room

1907 DDH becomes home of Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union, founded 1866 to train Turnlehrer, Gymnastic teachers for Turnvereins and public schools

1912 Carl G. Fscher unveils plan for privately funded coast-to-coast highway later named Lincoln Highway in this building

1917 USA declares war on the German Empire and German-American culture

1918 DDH name changed to The Athenaeum

1941-1945 USA at war with Germany and its allies

1956 Melbourne Olympiad: 2 US Women’s Gymnastics Team members trained in Athenaeum Turners program

1970 Normal College leaves Athenaeum after 63 years

1973 Athenaeum Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1 of 3)

1972-80 Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) in Concert-Ball Room

1982 Athenaeum Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2 of 3)

1987 Athenaeum Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (3 of 3)

1989-2009 American Cabaret Theater (ACT) in Concert-Ball Room

1991 Athenaeum Foundation founded succeeds STv Stock Association as owner

1992 YMCA returns to downtown as tenant of gym and East Wing

1993-94 New Slate roof installed

2001 Renovations to building including HVAC, sprinkler system