To provide opportunities that advance the education, health, well-being, and independence for near-Southside families.
About Concord Indy
Concord Neighborhood Center was founded in 1875 by the American Turners and as a turnverein (German gymnastics society). The American Turners managed oversight of the facility and administered programs to the benefit of German immigrant families that relocated to the Near-Southside for employment. In the decades that followed, African American, Appalachian American and Jewish immigrant familie, attracted by the same employment opportunities, would also settle the neighborhood. The Jewish Welfare Federation assumed management of the Center in the 1910s and named it “The Communal Building.” Dedicated to “a joy of living and enrichment of the mind,” the Center functioned as a settlement house and provided an array of human and social service programs–English, naturalization, enrichment, and childcare classes—to residents. As families settled, they contributed their unique cultures, skills, and identities to this neighborhood and forged a unique and cohesive sense of place. From the 1870s through the Great Depression, the Southside is proudly described as “the heart of the early city.” Following the second World War, a congruence of factors shaped middle-class American life. An era of prosperity ushered in upward mobility supported and inspired by: suburban development, construction of the interstate system, and further industrialization. Many families left the city’s urban core for areas farther away from town.
In 1946, the Communal Building was established as a nonsectarian social services organization and a part of the Community Fund (United Way) and Council of Social Agencies. It was renamed Concord Center Association in 1952. From the early 1960s until 2004, the Center was a member organization of Indianapolis Settlements, Inc (ISI) and then Community Centers of Indianapolis (CCI). Following the latter’s dissolution, Concord’s independent 501(c)3 status was restored. The Center continues to direct programs and services to Southside residents. It is the southernmost multi-service organization in Marion County.
The Near-Southside Today
Concord’s programs and services are intended for individuals and families who reside within a 12.3 square mile catchment area immediately south of downtown Indianapolis. The official catchment area is bounded by: Washington St. (N.), I-65 (E.), Thompson Road (S.), and White River (W). The catchment area includes all of ZIP 46225 and segments of ZIP 46203, 46227, and 46217 and spans both Center and Perry townships. Comprising 18 formal neighborhoods, Concord’s neighborhood is home to more than 36 thousand individuals.
On Sunday, October 19th, the Communal Building is dedicated by the Jewish Federation of Indianapolis. “The structure will serve a majority of the Jewish organizations of the city as a meeting place, and as a social center where educational work will be conducted for the general uplift of the Jewish people.”
Photo credit: Clipping taken from Newspapers.com
On September 15, the Jewish Federation votes to make a $25,000 addition to the Communal Building as the building is deemed “too small for Jewish Federation activities.”
November 6, the Communal Building is damaged due to a fire of incendiary origin. The damages are estimated to be around $3,000 (over $70,000 today).
Photo credit: Clipping taken from Newspapers.com
After leasing the building for $1 a year for a decade, the Concord Center Association purchased the Communal Building from the Jewish Federation and the building becomes the Concord Center.
The Concord Center continues to be used by the Southside Jewish community with an estimated 10% of those using the center being Jewish.
“The Center is a non-sectarian, interracial social group work agency serving all in the neighborhood through a program of recreation and informal education.”
Photo credit: Gary Moore 1980
The Community Center celebrates its 50th anniversary, now under the management of the Concord Neighborhood Center. The new director writes, “although the Center’s surroundings and problems are far different from what they were in 1914, the challenge to serve the community today is as great as it was 50 years ago.”
Photo credit: Bob Doeppers 1962
Over 100 Concord Center area residents protest the plans for I-70. “Protester charged that the design bisected and isolated their neighborhood.”
Signs read, “Don’t Fence Us In,” “The Old Folks Want to Walk Through the Neighborhood,” and “I Want to Go to Grandpas”
In April, The Concord Center opens an “Outreach Office” at 732 S. West for residents that have become isolated as a result of the I-70 overpass.
Photo credit: Neighborhood of Saturdays collection
Enoch Mitchell retires after 47 years as a custodian of the Concord Center. The column writes,
“He stayed through cold blustery winter nights when the furnace had to be fired to keep the water pipes from freezing. He stayed when fires were set by vandals. He stayed when much stress and strain of a busy and active community center was piled on his already busy work load… Many people who have come to the building on West Morris have found a friend in Enoch, and in turn they have become his friend.”
Photo credit: Gladys Potenza 1975
Wheels rolling for the new center. After a decade of planning and raising funds, the dream of building a new Concord Center is coming true. “Old School 22, 1231 S. Illinois, is being demolished to make way for the center.” The new building will include a library, gymnasium, counseling offices, senior citizen lunch and meeting areas, youth program space, and kitchen, and a space for neighborhood meetings. “The community is aware and anxiously awaiting the new facility.”
Photo credit: Gary Clark 1982
The Neighborhood of Saturdays Project, led by Dr. Susan Hyatt and a group of IUPUI students, brings together Jewish elders and current Southside residents. The project worked to celebrate and share the history of the Southside and the role of the Communal Building/Concord Center
Photo credit: Neighborhood of Saturdays Project collection
In March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted normal life. Through the generosity of many and the dedication of the Center’s staff, Concord was able to remain fully open to provide childcare and e-learning classes for families in essential business and to ensure all neighbors were able to stay connected and meet their basic needs. As we continue the long recovery from COVID-19, we look forward to exciting changes ahead.