Preservation Magazine, Summer 2017

A-bun-dance of Support Saves Indiana's Oldest White Castle

photo by: Indiana Landmarks

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Summer 2017.

Built in 1927, this former White Castle in Indianapolis is the fast-food chain’s oldest remaining structure in the state of Indiana, and the third-oldest in the United States. The restaurant started its life with just four or five stools, but by 1930 White Castle added five more seats when the company enlarged the building to make the kitchen more functional. It remained open until 1979, when the franchise relocated to a larger building as the fast-food industry evolved.

At the time, the White Castle corporation planned to demolish the original property, but preservationists intervened on behalf of its cultural significance. Commercial real estate agent John J. Hurwitz was tasked with selling the structure, but with no luck finding a buyer, he bought it himself and used it as his office for a decade before selling it to the Indiana National Guard.

After the Guard ceased using it as a recruitment center in 2005, it sat vacant. In February of 2017, Indiana Landmarks purchased the building from the city for $1. In May, the organization reported that a potential buyer is planning to repair the building’s glazed brick, assuming the sale goes through.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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