Historical Churches Walking Tour, Indianapolis

Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Indianapolis

The rich history of Indianapolis is reflected, among other things, in the extensive collection of historical churches. Throughout decades, these sacred landmarks have influenced the social geography of the city and today serve as symbols of the city's cultural and architectural heritage.

One such is the Scottish Rite Cathedral, a prominent example of Neo-Gothic style, known for its intricate stonework. This cathedral, completed in 1929, serves as a hub for the Scottish Rite Masons and has a grand presence in the city.

Roberts Park United Methodist Church, established in the 1870s, holds the distinction of being one of the city's oldest congregations. The church's Romanesque architecture is a testament to its historical significance in the community.

Another two magnificent pieces of Gothic Revival masonry, Saint Mary's Catholic Church and Christ Church Cathedral, both date back to the 1850s. Saint Mary's towering spires make it a landmark hard to miss, while the imposing architecture of the Christ Church Cathedral has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, completed in 1871, is yet another noteworthy historical temple in the city. Its beautiful French Gothic architecture and stunning interior are a testament to the local religious heritage.

Collectively, these historical churches form an integral part of Indianapolis's identity; their cultural and social significance is hard to overestimate. If you are an architecture buff or simply seeking a place of spiritual solace, consider visiting these cherished locations on our self-guided walking tour.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Indianapolis (See other walking tours in Indianapolis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • Roberts Park United Methodist Church
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
Scottish Rite Cathedral

1) Scottish Rite Cathedral

The Scottish Rite Cathedral was designed by architect George F. Schreiber and plays an essential role in Scottish Rite Freemasonry's life in Indianapolis. This Neo-Gothic building was constructed between 1927 and 1929. Some of the highlights include a 212-foot tower with a carillon known as the "Singing Tower".

Sculptures depicted on the exterior include key figures such as King Solomon and King Hiram. Marble floors at the eastern and southern entrances feature centerpieces with the 12 Zodiac signs. These windows depict important symbolism to Freemasonry, as well as symbolism representing 1920s technology, as well as the liberal arts and sciences.

A ballroom with a floating floor and Elizabethan architecture also has a chandelier with over 200 lights. There is a Cathedral Gothic theater that features over 50 hand-painted backdrops. In addition to taking advantage of tours of this magnificent building, visitors can also stop at the Double Eagle Cafe for lunch.
Roberts Park United Methodist Church

2) Roberts Park United Methodist Church

Roberts Park United Methodist Church, located downtown, is affiliated with the University of Indianapolis. It is named after Robert R. Roberts, the first Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church to reside in Indiana. This building at the corner of Vermont and Delaware streets was erected in 1869.

The Church was dedicated on August 27, 1876, making it the oldest church remaining in downtown Indianapolis. Diedrich A. Bohlen, a German-born architect who immigrated to Indianapolis in the 1850s, designed this early example of Romanesque Revival architecture. The church is considered one of Bohlen's major works. Constructed of Indiana limestone, it has a rectangular plan and includes a bell tower on the southwest corner. The church is known for its interior woodwork, especially a pair of black-walnut staircases leading to galleries (balconies) surrounding the interior of three sides of its large sanctuary.

The bell tower has rounded-arch windows at the first and third level. The second level has a tablet inscribed with the church's name and its construction date. A pyramid-shaped room tops the tower, which houses the church's bell.

The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1982.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Mary's Catholic Church

3) St. Mary's Catholic Church

St. Mary's Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic, built in the Gothic Revival style modeled after the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was established in 1858 as St. Marienkirche to serve the growing population of German Catholics who were making their home in Indianapolis.

The Reverend Peter Leonard Brandt arrived from Vincennes, Indiana, in 1856 to establish a congregation among the German Catholics of Indianapolis. St. Mary's was their first church, completed in 1858. Priests conducted services in latin and sermons in German and retained Old World traditions. After the neighborhood become commercial, the congregation purchased property at New Jersey Street and Vermont Street. That is where they built the present church, which was under construction from 1910 to 1912.

Architect Hermann Gaul, a native of Cologne, Germany, designed the church. Gargoyles decorate the façade of the church at the entry portal and towers. On the north side, a stained-glass window depicts St. Boniface, the saint who converted the Germans to Christianity. On the south side, another window depicts St. Henry, the “church builder.” The interior has many statues and a apse with skylights.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Christ Church Cathedral

4) Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest religious building in continuous use in Indianapolis. It was founded in 1837. The present building was constructed in 1857 and is the oldest building on Monument Circle. It became the cathedral for the Diocese of Indianapolis in 1954. It is known for its Choir of Men and Boys and Girls' Choir, and for its pipe organs, one of which was donated by Ruth Lilly. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Due to Christ Church's central location in downtown Indianapolis, it became a hub of several charitable activities. During World War II and the Korean War it operated a canteen to feed and entertain thousands of military personnel. The parish is also the host of an annual strawberry festival. Christ Church parishioners held a strawberry festival as early as 1857 to raise funds for construction of the present-day church and held similar church benefits in 1863 and 1864, which marked the beginnings of the parish's successful annual fundraising event. Christ Church Cathedral has hosted a strawberry festival every summer since 1965, raising funds for local, national, and international charities.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church

5) St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church

St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church is a parish of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The church building and the rectory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Considered the mother of the Catholic parishes in Indianapolis, it played an important role in development of the Catholic Church in the city. Saint John's Church served as the pro-cathedral of the diocese from 1878 until 1906; its rectory served as the bishop's residence and chancery from 1878 until 1892. In 1900 the church served as the site of first episcopal consecration held in Indianapolis.

The present site on which the church was built was purchased in 1846, and the parish built its second church there. When it became too small, Dietrich Bohlen was hired to design the present church.Bohlen's son, Oscar, designed the twin spires and supervised their construction in 1893. The red-brick church has an eclectic style, including elements of French Gothic Revival and American Romanesque Revival architecture. The sanctuary has a seating capacity of 3,000. It was the largest church in Indiana when the cornerstone was laid in 1867; it was dedicated on July 2, 1871.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Indianapolis, Indiana

Create Your Own Walk in Indianapolis

Create Your Own Walk in Indianapolis

Creating your own self-guided walk in Indianapolis is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Indianapolis Introduction Walking Tour

Indianapolis Introduction Walking Tour

The "Crossroads of America", Indianapolis (or Indy for short) is the capital of the US state of Indiana and the heart of the American Midwest.

The Indigenous people had lived in this area since as early as 10,000 BC before they relinquished their tribal land to the United States, in the Treaty of Saint Mary's, in 1818. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Architectural Jewels

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles