The Athenaeum (Das Deutche Haus), 1893

401 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN

Architect/Designer: Vonnegut & Bohn


The Athenaeum is divided into the east wing and the west wing. The main entry, part of the east wing, is surrounded by heavy stone work and the first floor of the east wing has horizontal layers of brick and stone. The remainder of the east wing features strong stone work and unique German Romanesque details such as stone pillars, stone window surrounds and steeply pitched slate roof. The west wing of the building features less stone work and larger arched windows along with two towers and rough cut stone along the base.


Established as a Germanic Clubhouse the Athenaeum was originally called Das Deutsche Haus (The German House). The name was changed to the Athenaeum due to anti-German sentiment during World War I. Over the years the Athenaeum has housed many important Indianapolis institutions including the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union which went on to become part of IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis) as well as The American Cabaret Theater and the YMCA. One of the oldest institutions in Indianapolis, the Athenaeum is also home to the Rathskeller, Indianapolis’ oldest extant restaurant.


National Register of Historic Places, 1973

Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, 1982

Lockerbie Square Historic District, 1973

Style: German Romanesque

Owner (past/present):

Past: Sozialer Turnverein Aktiengesellschaft (Social Gymnastics Association)

Present: Athenaeum Foundation

Materials: Brick, Stone

Additions and/or changes with date: 2012: Restoration of east wing

Historic use/current use:

Historic use: Clubhouse

Current use: Restaurant, event space, YMCA & non-profit office space

Is building open to the public?:

Yes, group tours are available

Condition: Excellent

Website and/or sources of information:


Research Sources:

The Athenaeum Foundation. “History.” Accessed September 24, 2015.


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