Remembering history 

Historic school torn down at IUPUI

Matt Arant

Historic school torn down at IUPUI

The Mary Cable building during demolition.

IUPUI students returning to class last week heard the rumble of falling debris as crews began demolishing historic Mary Cable School 4 at Michigan and Blackford Streets to make way for a parking lot, and later, a new building. Mary Cable has been slated for demolition for several years due to asbestos issues and other problems.

The Mary Cable School served the Ransom Place community long before IUPUI existed at its present location. School 4 was the city’s first black elementary school during the segregation era. The school was later named after Mary Ellen Cable (1862-1944), a prominent educator in the Ransom Place community, principal of the school and the first president of the Indiana NAACP, a chapter she organized herself.

The IU Foundation purchased the building during the late 1960s. IUPUI University Theatre moved to the Mary Cable Building in 1981.

University Theatre produced various student and children’s performances at the Mary Cable Building throughout the 1980s in tandem with a theatre degree program under the School of Liberal Arts.

University Theatre had dwindled by 1991 due to budget cuts within the School of Liberal Arts and the loss of the theater degree program, though students continued productions for a few more semesters. The theater ceased operation in 1993, closing with a total of 98 productions.

Though the school is being demolished, IUPUI Director of Media Relations Rich Schneider says that the university hasn’t forgotten Mary Cable’s legacy. New student residences near the White River were named after various leaders and figures from Ransom Place in 2004, such as the Cable House and the Wes Montgomery House. “[Her] name has great significance for the campus,” he says, “we wanted to preserve it. That name has always meant a lot.”

Spokespersons at IUPUI say the lot should become additional parking spaces by the end of spring. “Parking has always been a problem,” Schneider says. “But it will likely be used for something else.” Plans to convert the site into a new academic building are listed in Faculty Council minutes which date back more than five years.

Mary Cable closed its doors after the Spring 2005 semester. Most classes had already been moved to the newly built Information Technology Building across the road at Michigan and West Streets and to other nearby buildings. Remaining desks and furniture were donated to Indianapolis Public Schools last summer.

Learn about Ransom Place History at`anthpm/survey.html

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