A distinctive building along the White River in Indianapolis that served as a military training center for 75 years could have a new use. Plans call for Herron High School to locate its second campus at the Heslar Naval Armory, which was just secured by Indiana Landmarks from the city.
The facility, nicknamed "The Ship" for its appearance and previous interactive naval skills training features, was vacated last year by the U.S. Naval Reserves and became city property when they state couldn’t find a use for it. The reinforced concrete structure dates back to the end of the 1930s and was built by the federal government’s Works Progress Administration.
In June, Herron got the go-ahead from the Indianapolis Charter Schools Board to "replicate" its curriculum at another location. Janet McNeal, who is head of the school, says leaders are working to lock in financial support "in order to transform the armory into an exceptional environment where students can thrive. We are grateful to Indiana Landmarks for securing and maintaining the building while our board explores the possibility of establishing another campus there." Estimates for transforming the "bomb-proofed," Art Moderne-style into a facility suitable for academics are in the "several million" dollar-range.
Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis says the armory is "an important landmark, both historically and architecturally." He calls the project a "perfect new use" that will also help revitalize the Riverside neighborhood.
Herron is targeting either 2017 or 2018 for students to begin classes in the building.