Welcome to Das Deutsche Haus.

In the mid-19th century, Indianapolis saw a tremendous influx of German immigrants to the city. By the 1890s, many German immigrants and their descendants were becoming civic and business leaders in the Indianapolis community. There was a movement to unite several of the German heritage clubs in one location, which spurred the design and construction of “Das Deutsche Haus.”

The project was spearheaded by the Indianapolis Turnverein, a group of gymnastics enthusiasts with a desire to promote physical and mental wellness in the community. The building was originally created to advance the Turnverein’s principles of “a sound mind in a sound body” by providing space for athletic and mental endeavors. Since opening to the public in 1898, Das Deutsche Haus has seen many changes, but the commitment to nurturing sound minds in sound bodies has endured.

A look back in time…

1851 First Turnverein is formed by Clemens Vonnegut et. al.


1892 Socialer Turnverein Aktiengesellschaft (Stock Association) is formed to raise funds and build Das Deutsche Haus (DDH).


1893-94 DDH east wing is built.


1897-98 DDH west wing is built in “seiner vollendung” (in its completion).


1900 Walter Reed delivers yellow fever speech in concert ballroom.


1907 DDH becomes home of Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union, founded in 1866 to train “turnlehrers,” gymnastic teachers, for Turnvereins and public schools.


1912 Carl G. Fisher unveils plan in DDH for privately funded coast-to-coast highway later named Lincoln Highway.


1917 U.S. declares war on the German Empire and German-American culture.


1918 DDH name is changed to the Athenaeum.


1941-1945 U.S. wages war with Germany and its allies.


1956 Melbourne Olympiad: Two members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team train in Athenaeum Turners program.


1970 Normal College leaves Athenaeum after 63 years.


1973 Athenaeum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the first time.


1972-80 Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is based in the concert ballroom.


1982 Athenaeum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the second time.


1987 Athenaeum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the third time.


1989-2009 American Cabaret Theater (ACT) is based in the concert ballroom.


1991 Athenaeum Foundation succeeds Socialer Turnverein Stock Association as owner.


1992 YMCA returns to downtown as tenant of gym and east wing.


1993-94 New slate roof is installed.


2001 Renovations to building include HVAC, sprinkler system.


2005 IndyMetro Church becomes a tenant of the building.


2008 Young Actors Theatre (YAT) returns as a tenant.


2008 First GermanFest is held on New Jersey Street.


2009 A rain garden is created in the front of the building with benches.


2010 During the tuckpointing of the south end of the building, a crane crashes into the Athenaeum, requiring extensive restoration to the east wing.


2012 Chimney is lowered to its original height.


2012 YMCA renovates the gymnasium and turns it into a wellness center.


2014 Sidewalks are added to the Biergarten, making it more accessible to people with disabilities.


2014 Archduke Markus Salvator and Archduchess Hildegard von Hapsburg of Austria visit the Athenaeum.


2015 West side of building undergoes tuckpointing and window renovation.


2016 Athenaeum is designated National Historic Landmark.

Athenaeum Foundation401 EAST MICHIGAN STREET

Our Mission

The Athenaeum Foundation preserves a treasured historic landmark that welcomes all to nurture a sound mind and a sound body through arts & culture, wellness and community.

The Athenaeum Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization.