Indy’s Oldest African-American Church Sold for Hotel Space


Indianapolis’ oldest African-American church has been sold. With it goes the last of what was left of Indiana Avenue, historically the mecca of black culture in the city.

By August, the 150 congregants of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 414 W. Vermont St. will move out of their historic Downtown building. The buyer, Indianapolis-based SUN Development and Management Corp., plans to redevelop the church and its adjoining parking lot into two hotels. A clause in the sales contract stipulates that as much of the structure be preserved as possible.

A church fundraising effort to pay for $2 million in necessary building repairs came up far short.

“It wasn’t even a drop in the bucket of what we needed,” the Rev. Lewis Parham said.

The pastor, who has been at the church a little over a year, said he will miss the sanctuary, with its brightly colored stained-glass windows and the high archways of the decorative wooden ceiling, the most.


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